www.AlgonquinAdventures.com Backcountry Paddle-in Camping  -  Location  -  Campsite Selection www.AlgonquinAdventures.com

Route PlanningAvoid Logging Noise Campsite SelectionMaking Camp

There's a temptation while planning a trip, to try to "preselect" individual campsites along the route. Don't bother. A number of circumstances make this impossible, unless of course, a particular day-destination lake has only one campsite!

The Algonquin reservation system currently assigns reservations only for lakes or watercourses ... not for individual campsites. When you arrive at your day-destination lake, you may find other parties already occuppying some of the campsites. Once you reach your day-destination lake, pull out your map, review conditions and start the campsite selection process.

That particular day's variety of temperature, wind, rain, sun, bug and even moon conditions will help to narrow down your choice of  shoreline exposure.

This campsite's west exposure provides prevailing breezes and a sunset view.
If the black flies and mosquitoes of spring and early summer are about, you may want to check out the campsites exposed to bug-clearing wind.
The pines' sandy knoll protects the campsite from the northwest wind while allowing it to bask in the early morning sun.
If low temperatures are your main concern, consider campsites sheltered from the prevailing wind and benefitting from the early warming sun.
From sunrise to sunset, this campsite provides an ideal setting for summer activities. At night, it's 'front-row center' for the Milky Way.
If you intend to spend a summer day of rest and recreation, look for campsites with elevated rock points that will facilitate sunning, swimming and star gazing.

Once you've determined the "'shoreline exposure" that you desire, your selection will be narrowed down. It's within this reduced number of campsites that you have to make your final choice. There are some basic  campsite features , the quality of which you will consider in the final selection or acceptance process.

On the northside of Burnt Island Lake, this campsite has great mid-day sunshine.

1. Landing:

It's definitely preferrable to have deep enough water at the shore to save hauling the canoe through mud, deadwood or rocks.

Photo: A short step from the shoreside log to the rock face made for a good landing.

A rock ledge, secure log or row of stable dry boulders are ideal landings, with safe footing for unloading and exitting the canoe. Even a small sand or gravel beach is better than black muck, tangled branches or jagged rocks.

A deceptively viable landing is hidden away behind the trees to the left.

2. Shoreline:

It's ideal if the balance of the campsite's shoreline includes a decent view across the lake, a small sandy beach fit for relaxing, large flat rocks for sunning and a deep spot for swimming and drawing water.

However, most of the time you'll be lucky to get more than two of these four shoreline features together in one campsite.

Photo: This small Ragged Lake campsite has a unique shoreline and tentsite ... and a great sunset view.

Experiencing an access like this is once too often.

3. Access:

It's the path which you take from the landing to the tentsite and back again. It can be a few easy steps or a long, arduous effort.

Photo: Although the actual tentsite and its view were great, this long 45 degree rock access was more than tiring. It proved dangerous the next morning, when it was slippery with dew!

You have to rewalk the access every time you want to get to the shoreline. Being isolated from the water by a rough or long access can be a definite drawback.

If you have a large group, the availability of enough individual tentsites is a priority.

4. Size:

Many small or compact campsites will suite a camping couple. However, if your group has eight campers with four tents, such campsites are poor choices.

If your group needs multiple tentsites, before you start unloading the canoes consider sending a scout ashore to check on the campsite's actual useable size!

Photo: Seen from the water, this campsite appeared small. However, numerous tentsites were spread out amongst the trees.

Some forest floor debri improved the shelf's grade. After a night of rain, the slope became quite treacherous.

5. Grade:

Now and then, you'll wonder why a campsite was located where it is ... on the side of a hill!

Photo: This is the only campsite on Little Rock Lake. It has a small "shelf" on a steep slope high above the water.

With its tiny tentsite cut into the hillside, one actually wonders about stumbling in the dark and rolling into the lake. Unless it's the only choice, seriously consider looking for a better campsite.

Located on Linda Lake, southeast point .. directly opposite the portage from Owl Lake.

6. Trees:

It's a basic expectation to have trees around to tie your tarp(s) to.

Photo: This campsite has it all .. good landing, easy access, afternoon sunshine, sunset view, refreshing breeze and shelter under the trees.

However, depending on conditions, trees can be a blessing or a curse. Without sheltering evergreens, late season winds can blow very cold. On the other hand, an encompassing canopy of cedars can definitely intensify the early summer mosquitoe factor or prolong a morning chill.

Laughingly called the 'room with a view.'

7. Facilities:

The trusty old Algonquin "thunderbox" or "treasure chest" is practically taken for granted.

Now and then, a starving porcupine or some social misfit decides to target this facility. It only takes a couple of minutes to verify its existence and working condition.

Photo: Without this facility, you REALLY are roughing it!

January 4, 2024