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Spring Camping - end of April

Waterloo, Canada
9 posts
Spring Camping - end of April
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Several friends and I are planning to do a camping trip end of this month. Either leaving on the 26th or 27th for 2 or 3 nights. We are really just beginners at camping, and it was my first time last year when we did the same (end of April) at Cyprus Lake. Last year the lack of proper cold-weather sleeping bags for 2 of us led us on the road southbound until we ended up at a motel at Lion's Head for our second night -- which turned out to be an awesome place too!

We are mainly looking for good hiking trails and awesome views of mother nature; we have narrowed it down to either Killarney or Algonquin. We are leaning more towards Killarney now, but making a trip there means we MUST go to the Silver Peak which requires canoeing. Would the lakes be suitable for canoeing (beginners too) by then? How wet should we expect to get? We will be renting the canoes from the outfitters nearby.

So a slew of questions here..

Any other advice for us? Other locations maybe? How are Walmart's/Canadian Tire's sleeping bags? If we rent a heated Yurt, would summer sleeping bags be enough?

Thank you!

Toronto, Canada
Level Contributor
16,626 posts
855 reviews
578 helpful votes
1. Re: Spring Camping - end of April
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If the weather keeps up like it is today, you can expect to get pretty wet.....hopefully it will at least get to seasonal temperatures for you.....

Toronto
Destination Expert
for Algonquin Provincial Park
Level Contributor
4,272 posts
2. Re: Spring Camping - end of April
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The weather could be wet at any time, particularly in the spring, and the end of April is too far out to predict the day-to-day precipitation.

In Algonquin and Killarney I would not necessarily expect the lakes to have melted by then. They may have, but don't count on canoeing. The issue isn't beginners vs experienced folk, it's that you can't paddle if the lakes are frozen; if you are able to canoe, make sure the beginners are paired up with people who know how not to tip the boat, since the water will be pretty hypothermic. At the same time, don't plan on walking on any frozen lakes, as even if there is ice it will be just about ready to break up.

If you get a heated yurt (eg at the Mew Lake Campground in Algonquin Park or the George Lake Campground in Killarney) you should be fine, at least with with a 3-season sleeping bag. All sleeping bags I've seen have a temperature rating on the label, so if you are camping in a normal tent, make sure the rated temperature is lower than the forecasted lows. If you think you'll need serious winter sleeping bags, you can rent from MEC rather than making an investment.

Your choice of park might be limited by what's available campsite-wise, particularly if you're looking for a yurt. I would say Killarney would be worthwhile -- if you can't do Silver Peak, you can still hike to The Crack which is Killarney's 2nd best viewpoint after Silver Peak.

I've never used Walmart or Canadian Tire sleeping bags.

Edited: 8 years ago
Waterloo, Canada
9 posts
3. Re: Spring Camping - end of April
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We are definitely hoping for a better weather. Would be a terrible hike if the grounds are soaked through.

Thanks for the pointers tweedwolfscream. If the lakes are thawed and we do end up canoeing, how wet should we expect to get while portaging?

Toronto
Destination Expert
for Algonquin Provincial Park
Level Contributor
4,272 posts
4. Re: Spring Camping - end of April
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You mean like your feet? I really don't know, depends on the terrain. Some portages stay muddy throughout the summer, others are through more elevated and well-drained areas. Park staff could probably tell you about conditions in particular areas/portages.

Ontario, Canada
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231 posts
5. Re: Spring Camping - end of April
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Hi CsG29,

You mentioned that last year in late April was your first camping experience. Be prepared for VERY different weather this year. Last year Spring was about a month early, so the conditions you experienced then were more like what we normally see in May. Much warmer and drier than seasonal norms.

This year is a more typical year, with ice-out (ie the ice melts off the lakes) forecast for late-April or early May. You can take a look at Algonquin Park's ice-out report for more details:

http://www.algonquinpark.on.ca/news/ice-out.php

That said, if you do go camping, I suggest you do not go canoeing. Even if the ice is gone, the water will be "cold enough to kill you" as we say. I know you won't plan on going in the water but nobody ever does.

I don't think you'll miss canoeing, though! There are so many great hiking trails in Algonquin Park that you could spend days sampling them. You can also rent bicycles to try the bike trails. The trails will definitely be muddy. Bring water-resistant boots, extra socks and a spare pair or two of shoes. Dress in layers and have a waterproof top layer in case of rain. Sometimes we get gorgeous hot sunny days in April, 25°C or higher, and it feels like summer (but no bugs!). At night, though, it can drop 20° down to single digit temps.

A heated yurt would be your best bet for camping. Even then, you'll want a three-season sleeping bag. Consider also some alternative accommodations. I've heard good things about Wolf Den Hostel near the west gate of the park. I believe they have some dorm-style accommodations which might be just as cost-effective as camping.

http://www.wolfdenbunkhouse.com/

Or even stay at a hotel, motel, B&B or cottage resort nearby and drive into the park and/or check out the surrounding area. It might not be the same as waking up in a tent, but you can still spend your days out in the woods and maybe even find a place with a fireplace or outdoor fire pit to get some of that camp atmosphere in the evening. If you go this route, see if you can find a suitable place that's participating in the Fuel & Fun promo, which includes free $50 gas card and $50 vouchers to use for dinner, bike rentals, etc.

http://explorersedge.ca/partners/

As for Killarney Park, I think they'll be experiencing similar weather patterns as Algonquin Park. Plant to hike and/or bike but probably not go canoeing. You can hike to the Crack from the George Lake campground and it's a great full-day hike. There's a short cut you can take from the road but if you've got the whole day in front of you, go for the whole shebang.

Toronto
Destination Expert
for Algonquin Provincial Park
Level Contributor
4,272 posts
6. Re: Spring Camping - end of April
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Good catch joyojac, I missed the reference to late April 2012. But yes that's true, spring was a full month earlier than normal last year and that's not repeating now.

I've stayed at the Wolf Den and I can recommend it. Sort of in between a hostel and a chalet -- economical but nice. They have cabins available in the summer but I'm not sure if that includes April.

The shortcut to the Crack that joyojac mentions is a side-trail that starts from a trailhead east of the campground on Hwy 637. You'll see what I mean if you look at a park map. I've never hiked either of these routes so I don't know which is nicer, I've only hiked to the Crack from Kakakise Lake during a canoe trip.

Basically I see the tradeoff like this... Killarney has the more stunning views for sure, but Algonquin has a larger variety of land-based activities -- short hikes, long hikes, hikes focused on scenery, hikes focused on wildlife/ecology, plus the visitor centre and the logging museum if there are any really bad days weather wise. And if you do get out on the water in Algonquin (not saying you should unless things warm up a lot), fishing opens that saturday so you could catch the park's first lake trout or brook trout of the season. (Brook trout might even be catchable from shore, maybe on the Madawaska River?) Fishing opportunities are much more limited in Killarney.

Kingston, Canada
Level Contributor
3,689 posts
87 reviews
152 helpful votes
7. Re: Spring Camping - end of April
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I agree that canoeing with lake temperatures as low as they will be is a bad idea. Canoes can tip easily, and it could quickly turn into an extremely dangerous situation if someone tips a canoe - not ideal conditions at all for a beginner.

There will be some wonderful hikes you could explore. I'd be sure to have waterproof hiking boots though.

ktown

Waterloo, Canada
9 posts
8. Re: Spring Camping - end of April
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Thank you so much for all the feedback! Everything posted here is being thought through. We have forgone the plans for canoeing and will be focused on hiking. I will be buying a decent pair of waterproof hiking boots soon as well. Are there any activities/spots nearby the parks that we shouldn't miss out on? We might not end up hiking for all 3-4 days. I know there's the Fish & Chips spot at Killarney town that must be visited. Anything else closeby to either parks? Ziplining maybe?

Once again appreciate all the feedback!

9. Re: Spring Camping - end of April

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