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May 2023 Ontario Trip (Part 2 of 3)


Over the years, I have made plenty of trips to Ontario, crisscrossing the southern, central and eastern parts of the province. Living in Upstate New York, it's pretty easy to visit our neighbor to the north, or is that our neighbor to the west? Ottawa is one of my favorite cities to visit anywhere in the world, plus I've discovered the charm of Kingston, the waterfalls of Hamilton (which is on the same Niagara Escarpment that brings us Niagara Falls), the sheer beauty of the Bruce Peninsula, and more. But I hadn't explored much of Cottage Country. So I decided to change that, and what better time to go than over Memorial Day weekend, when the daylight is long and I have an extra day to explore.

These are the photos from the second day of the trip. I started and ended my day in the heart of Muskoka in Huntsville and then spent a good chunk of my day in Algonquin Provincial Park by heading down Highway 60 and back. From there, I headed to Burk's Falls and saw the Screaming Heads before making my way to Parry Sound and Killbear Provincial Park. I then continued on my way back to Huntsville by way of Rosseau.

I started my day by exploring a few places of note around Huntsville. First, I headed south of town and across the Locks Bridge on Muskoka District Road 2 to the historic Brunel Locks.

Historic marker explaining the history of the Brunel Locks.

The Brunel Locks were built during the 1870s, originally to allow passage for steamships along the Muskoka River between Mary Lake to the south with Fairy Lake and Huntsville to the north.

The locks are open seasonally and serves local boat traffic.

The Locks Bridge is in the distance.

Fairy Lake as seen from Lion's Lookout in Huntsville. The local Lion's Club is responsible for the lookout's upkeep, hence the name.

Lion's Lookout shelter.

Looking towards Huntsville from the Lion's Lookout/

Downtown Huntsville.

All about the Huntsville Swing Bridge, built in 1938 and replacing an earlier bridge at the same location.

The bridge was built to allow passage for steamships traveling between the nearby train station and the Muskoka River to various lakeside resorts.

Side view of the Huntsville Swing Bridge crossing the Muskoka River.

Now to take Muskoka District Road 3 out of Huntsville.

And east onto Highway 60 to venture over to Algonquin Provincial Park.

 Highway 60 is a quiet drive on this Sunday morning.

Limberlost Road leads to the Limberlost Forest and Wildlife Reserve. I did not have time to check out that forest, so maybe that's something I do on a future trip to Cottage Country.

Staying on Highway 60 eastbound instead.

The portage here was once home of the Portage Railway, a short narrow gauge railroad a little more than a mile in length that would bring passengers and freight across the height of land between Peninsula Lake and the Lake of Bays, which has an elevation difference of about 100 feet. Since travel between lakes was once quite common in Muskoka, the railway across the portage made sense where building a canal did not make sense.

Highway 35's northern end at Highway 60. Highway 35 travels for about 122 miles through Kawartha Lakes and Lindsay on its way to Highway 401 near Newcastle.

Whitney is at the east gate of Algonquin Provincial Park.

But before we even get to Algonquin Provincial Park, we have a scenic drive along Highway 60.

You know what, I feel like I'm back in the Adirondacks. Actually, that was one of the reasons why I wanted to check out this part of Ontario, to see how it compared to the Adirondacks in Upstate New York. Both places are part of the Canadian Shield geologically.

Watch out for moose, since after all, moose bites can be nasty.

Oxtongue Lake.

I'm really digging the sweeping curves on Highway 60 leading towards Algonquin.

Approaching the west gate of Algonquin Provincial Park.

A little back story about Algonquin Provincial Park, as told by this sign that looks like birch bark. The park was established in 1893 to serve as a wildlife sanctuary, making Algonquin the first provincial park in Ontario. The original park consisted of 18 townships and designated as Algonquin National Park under the Algonquin National Park Act. The name was subsequently changed in 1913 to Algonquin Provincial Park, and over the years, its boundaries were amended eight times to include 15 additional parcels of land.

Back on the road, I'm appreciating the fact that this land has been preserved for all to discover. Highway 60 crosses through the southern part of Algonquin.

I pulled off to see the Whiskey Rapids of the Oxtongue River.

The area around Whiskey Rapids was an area where famed painter Tom Thomson liked to venture during his time at Algonquin. Thomson first arrived at Algonquin in 1912, working, living and getting inspiration from what he saw, until his untimely death at Canoe Lake in July 1917. Thomson left a lasting impact with his iconic paintings of natural beauty, many of which were created at Algonquin Park or at his studio in Toronto.

Meanwhile, my camera is my canvas, creating some photos of Highway 60 as it works its way through Algonquin.

Tea Lake, a favorite subject of Tom Thomson's paintings and now enjoyed as a campground by many.

But I am continuing along Highway 60 to my next stop, the Hardwood Lookout. Trying to get in a bunch of different places around Algonquin during the little time I had, I figured this would be a nice stop.

A stone obelisk at the top of the Hardwood Lookout.

That monument is dedicated to Douglas McDonald Hains, who led efforts in conversing Canadian natural resources, particularly the forests, fields and streams.

The Hardwood Lookout gives you a nice view of Smoke Lake to the south.

Highway 60 along Smoke Lake.

Smoke Lake.

Highway 60 is one of the more scenic highways in Ontario, and stretches like these through Algonquin Provincial Park are among the reasons why.

Views like this make Highway 60 an especially fun drive to take.

Cache Lake. This was the hub of Algonquin Provincial Park, boasting a resort, railroad station and park offices from the 1890s to the 1950s. While accommodations have changed over the years, you can explore some of the remnants of the days of yore by way of a short trail.

A short piece of the old railroad was kept for historical purposes. A railway used to have a stop here, allowing passengers coming from Toronto or Ottawa to be dropped off right in front of the resort.

Things have certainly changed since the hotel was dismantled in 1956. However, a few artifacts from the resort's heyday have remained.

Such as a retaining way for the resort.

This staircase led to the front entrance of the hotel, which was known as the Highland Inn.

Canisbay Lake is home of one of Algonquin's many campgrounds.

Much of Highway 60 through Algonquin looks like like.

Or this. A good comparison would be parts of NY 3 or NY 30 to the west and south of Tupper Lake.

While I doubt that the popular fad in the 1990s called Pogs was named after Pog Lake, the lake has been around for much longer.

I headed to the Algonquin Park visitors center, which is where I started to turn around. Maybe next time I'll visit the Algonquin Logging Museum. The visitor's center was interesting, with a museum explaining the history and nature of the park.

A replica of the Algonquin Park train station at the visitor's center, although there looks to be some part of this station that were true to form.

At this point, I decided to head back towards Huntsville, but I made a few more stops before leaving Algonquin.

First, I took a quick stop at Spruce Bog, which is a marsh surrounded by spruce trees.

There is a loop hiking trail that goes around the Spruce Bog.

Or one could just take pictures of the bog.

Back on Highway 60 west, where I have a different hike in mind.

Getting ready to turn off Highway 60 for an adventure.

Driving some distance down a dirt side road, but at least there's some yellow on brown signs. I've only commonly encountered signs with this color scheme in New York, Ontario and Quebec.

My hiking destination for the next couple of hours: Booth's Rock. The Booth's Rock trail is 5.1 kilometers long and goes in a loop, passing by a pond, an abandoned railroad line, flights of stairs going down the hill (at least on one side of the trail) and an excellent lookout from Booth's Rock to nearby Rock Lake.

The view from Booth's Rock looks great in late May. It was worth dealing with all of the bugs flying around on the trail to get views like this.

Booth's Rock was probably the right hike to take in terms of time, distance and difficulty for me that day. There are some other great hikes at Algonquin, such as the Track and Tower Trail or Centennial Ridges, but I had plenty of time to see other things in an action packed day.

You probably can't see it in this photo, but I was watching some people paddling in Rock Lake below.

One last view of Rock Lake from the top of Booth's Rock.

Following an abandoned railway line that is now part of the Booth's Rock Trail. This was apparently part of one of Canada's busiest railway lines at one time.

Through Algonquin Provincial Park, Highway 60 is also known as the Frank MacDougall Parkway. Frank MacDougall was the Superintendent of Algonquin Provincial Park from 1931 through 1941, and with his background in both forestry and aviation, he pioneered expansion and development of air services in the park. This included the use of aircraft in wildfire detection, the movement of officers on forest management duties, fish and game regulations and also restocking streams with fish.

Taking the scenic way west. Since Highway 60 is the only through road through the park, I might as well enjoy the ride.

This way to the Centennial Ridges Trail, which is supposed to be another spectacular hike at Algonquin.

The water's probably still a little too cold at the beach.

Driving alongside the Lake of Two Rivers.

A hike to Bat Lake is perfect for your Baturday.

The Track & Tower Trail, which is a 7.5 kilometer long hike. I considered hiking this trail before deciding on the Booth's Rock Trail.

Highway 60 has blue and white kilometer posts within the friendly confines of Algonquin Provincial Park.

Getting ready to say goodbye to Algonquin Provincial Park. I'd like to return some day and visit some of the places I missed during this trip.

Entering the Township of Algonquin Highlands, which means we've left the park.

Back to where Highway 60 meets Highway 35 in Dwight. I stopped at a nice chip truck around here for a snack.

Experiencing some déjà vu. I actually wound up taking Muskoka District Road 9 on my way out of Huntsville the following day.

Back in Huntsville, back to Muskoka District Road 3. This road actually goes for quite a distance within Muskoka, from Highway 141 in Rosseau going west to Highway 11 near Arrowhead Provincial Park going north. 

But I'll forge on by staying on Highway 60. I have more of Ontario to discover in the narrow window of a three day weekend.

Although Highway 60 ends soon at Highway 11. It's a long way from its east end several hundred kilometers in Renfrew.

I'll be going north on Highway 11, but not all the way to North Bay today.

Here's the end of Muskoka District Road 3 that I was referring to a little earlier.

Novar, gateway to the Almaguin Highlands just north of Muskoka. Also, starting to see more secondary highways the further north I go.

Plenty of traffic heading north on Highway 11, some of which may be going to North Bay or beyond.

I like the patterns of the rock cuts in this photos.

Highway 518 is one of a few weeks to get to Parry Sound from the Highway 11 corridor.

I wound up taking Highway 11 as far as Burk's Falls, exiting ahead at Secondary Highway 520.

I like the angle of the signs in this shot where Highway 11 meets Highway 520 in Burk's Falls. It's like they're telling each other that they smell.

Entering Burk's Falls on Highway 520. Blink and you'll miss it.

Crossing the Magnetawan River in Burk's Falls on this pony bridge.

I'm pretty sure I missed the historical plaque, but not my turn. Highway 520 goes to the west here.

I'll be following Highway 520 past Magnetawan, but with a noteworthy detour along the way. Highway 520 passes by a lot of farmland between Burk's Falls and the west.

Why yes, I went to see the Screaming Heads of Midlothian, which may be one of the more unique sculpture parks I've ever seen.

The Screaming Heads were created by Canadian artist and retired high school art teacher Peter Camani. He created the concrete sculptures on his property near Burk’s Falls starting in the early 1980s over a period of about 30 years. According to a statement made by Camani, they are inspired in part by the concept of duality, which is found in teachings stretching from Druids to Taoists. When the sun rises in the east, it lights up one side of the sculpture so you have a light side and a dark side; as the day progresses the differences blend then gradually reverse.

Known as Ontario's Stonehenge, the Screaming Heads are located on a 310 acre property with plenty of sculptures to check out.

Screaming Heads of all shapes and body parts.

After seeing one of Canada's most unique places, I'm back on Highway 520, entering Magnetawan here.

Historical marker explaining the Magnetawan Lock, which was built to allow boats to travel more places. The hand powered locks are still operational during the summer months.

The Rosseau Nipissing Road is known as Ontario's Ghost Road, which was once the home of a number of settlements, which have since become abandoned. The 120 kilometer road was one of Ontario's Colonization Roads, which were first developed during the 1850s to settle the lands between the Ottawa River and Georgian Bay. The Nipissing Road was opened in 1877, and only four communities along the old road is still thriving, one being Magnetawan.

One of the segments of the Nipissing Road is Highway 510, which splits off from Highway 520 in Magnetawan.

We'll be heading towards Parry Sound on Highway 124.

Or maybe east on Highway 124 instead?

No, definitely west on Highway 124 and Highway 520. The two highways run concurrently from Magnetawan and past Ahmic Harbour before splitting off in Dunchurch.

Most of Highway 124 is scenic and quiet.

McKellar Lake.

Highway 124 ends at Highway 400, just a few miles north of downtown Parry Sound.

Just 165 kilometers to Sudbury. Highway 400 is gradually replacing Highway 69 between Parry Sound and Sudbury. There was a large impact with an asteroid or comet about 1.8 billion years ago that struck the Sudbury Basin, leaving that area to be high in copper and nickel deposits.

Passing by Nobel. I didn't get a prize, though.

At the time I wrote this article, Highway 400 ends just past Highway 559. a few hundred kilometers north of Toronto. I exited here so I could visit my second Ontario provincial park of the day.

But first, a drive down Highway 559.

Entering Killbear Provincial Park, where the Georgian Bay meets the Canadian Shield.

Not the best picture, but I do enjoy the retro font on the numbers of 559.

I took some time to quickly explore a few sections of the park and dip my toes in the cold water. There were a few short trails that allowed me to whet my appetite and get an idea of what Killbear is about.

The Lighthouse Point Trail takes me to this small light station at Killbear Point.

A quick look around also leads me to some nice views of the Georgian Bay,

And this boat leaving Parry Sound.

A different view of the lighthouse. It's more of a beacon, I think.

Some more views of Georgian Bay.

Georgian Bay is not much smaller than Lake Ontario, at 5,792 square miles compared to 7,320 square miles. However, Georgian Bay is considered to be part of Lake Huron.

The main park road at Killbear Provincial Park was named the Eddie Ramsay Parkway, in honor of the main who worked at Killbear for 62 years. Eddie Ramsay started working at the park in 1959, before the park opened to the public. He built campgrounds, roads and worked in the maintenance department to help keep the park up and running. Well deserved, I say!

Perhaps one of the most photographed trees in Ontario. It's seen better days and has a couple of poles supporting it.

Being a well photographed tree also gives you the benefit of being next to some great scenery.

One more photo of the tree. It is near some of the campsites at Killbear, making it pretty easy for people to visit.

Before leaving Killbear, I decided to check out the Twin Points Trail briefly.

There's some nice rock outcroppings to be found along the shore on the trail.

One final picture of the Georgian Bay before I head inland.

Back on Highway 559, I pass by Raby Lake.

Along with some waterfowl to wave past.

Highway 559 owes its existence to the popularity of Killbear Provincial Park, providing a provincially maintained road to and from the park.

Highway 559's eastern end is at Highway 400, and it's time to head south on the freeway for a bit.

Not going all the way to Toronto from here, but definitely passing Parry Sound.

Some rock cuts to see as we enter McDougall.

Parry Sound, Ontario, the hometown of one of the greatest players in National Hockey League history: Bobby Orr. There is also a museum located in Parry Sound called the Bobby Orr Hall of Fame, which I visited in 2016.

Back to Highway 124, but I have a different way planned back to Huntsville.

Continuing south on Highway 400, which is also part of the Trans-Canada Highway in these parts.

You can really see the different layers of rock.

I think Ontario has it right when it comes to variable message boards. Simple messages without any humor or fuss.

That's a pretty small sign for the exit for Highway 141.

Taking Highway 141 eastbound most of the way back to Huntsville.

Highway 141 was one of my favorite drives I took during the entire long weekend, and there were some strong candidates.

Tally Ho-Swords Road may now be one of my favorite road names ever. Because it began with a bloody S, there is a village to the north of Highway 141 called Swords, but I don't know where the Tally Ho part came from.

Highway 141 passes through some scenic woodland.

Plus some scenic farmland too.

Plus there's some sweeping curves as far as the eye can see.

Highway 141 meets Highway 632 in Rosseau. Highway 632 runs between Lake Rosseau and Lake Joseph on the way to Port Carling. There is also a shortcut over to Huntsville from Rosseau, but I decided to stay on Highway 141.

Back in Muskoka.

I took a detour to Four Mile Point Park and got some excellent views of Lake Rosseau. I could have (and should have) stayed there all summer.

The shores of Lake Rosseau are dotted with nice cottages complete with garages for their boats.

The stream that leads into Rosseau Falls.

Rosseau Falls is below this spot, and feeds right into Lake Rosseau in the distance.

Back on Highway 141, and this view of the road hugging the landscape between the cliff and Skeleton Bay is my favorite view from this highway.

A slightly different view as we round the bend.

Muskoka District Road 24. Somehow, Dee Bank doesn't have the same ring to it like an insult I'm thinking of that starts with dee.

Just a side road that leads to Skeleton Lake.

Everybody loves Raymond, Ontario. Maybe.

More scenic farmland dotting the sides of Highway 141.

Muskoka District Road 35 provides a nice shortcut down to Bracebridge.

But we'll stay on Highway 141 here.

Passing by Longs Lake.

Time to hop back onto Highway 11 at Highway 141 ends in Utterson, Ontario. 

Starting to hit dusk on those final miles back to my hotel for the weekend.

Muskoka District Road 3 is that shortcut from Rosseau to Huntsville that I mentioned earlier, and it is also one of the exits from Highway 11 into downtown Huntsville.

But I decided to take the exit for Highway 60 instead. I thought it would be a faster way to get into downtown Huntsville.

Coming full circle, we're back at the Huntsville Swing Bridge 

It was nice of them to include an old photograph on the side of the bridge.

Day is done. Time to go back to the hotel and get ready for another day.

Sources and Links:
The King's Highway - The History of Ontario's King's Highways
Gribblenation - May 2023 Ontario Trip (Part 1)
Gribblenation - May 2023 Ontario Trip (Part 3)


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