The summer of 2020 was my first summer in Canada. I didn’t want to let it go without an authentic campaign experience in one of Ontario’s popular camping spots – Algonquin Provincial Park. The park has multiple camping sites, and almost all of them were already full. After a long search, we found a perfect site next to Mew Lake. The site was huge, very well maintained, offered privacy and a beautiful lake view on one side. We camped there for one night.
Trip Completed: September 2020
Starting Point: Toronto, Ontario
Ending Point: Mew Lake, Algonquin Provincial Park
Total Distance: 308 Km
Duration: 2 days / 1 night
Mew Lake Campground, off Highway 60, Algonquin Provincial Park.
Maps & Resources
- Guidebook: N/A
Map: We used Google Maps to navigate our way to the site. On the campground, we used the map available on the Ontario Parks website to locate nearby facilities.
Do campsites require permits?
Yes, the campsite requires a permit, which can be easily obtained from the website. There is also an office at the campsite. It’s better to book it online and secure the best spot for yourself.
Outfitters & Shuttles
As this was our first camping experience, we didn’t have any camping essentials with us. We rented a tent, sleeping bags and mats, and fire starters from Toronto Outdoors. On our way to the park, we saw Algonquin Outfitters that supplies all camping and hiking gear.
Day 1: Toronto to Mew Lake (308 km)
Driving to Campground: We had our vehicle and the liberty to start the trips as per our convenience. We started our journey at 11.30 am, picked our camping gear from Toronto Outdoors, and then hit highway 400 going North at 1.00 pm. We took a break near Muskoka for refreshments and reached our camping site at 5.30 pm. It is only a three and a half hours’ drive from Toronto, but our break was quite long. The weather was delightful, and we simply wanted to enjoy that. Also, when we entered Algonquin Park, we slowed down to consumer all of its beauty.
Reaching Mew Lake: 5.30 pm is not an ideal time to reach your camping site. The office at the entrance of the campground was closed. We could still enter as we had the permit with us. There’s a big shower area near the entrance for the public. It wasn’t difficult for us to find our campsite as all the sites are very well marked and there are boards to direct you towards your site.
Our Campsite: Our campsite was way bigger than we expected it to be. It was in a radio free zone, which means you can’t play any loud music or anything that could disturb other campers. This was our very first camping trip, so we didn’t know what to expect. We thought there would be a parking area where we would park our car and then walk to the site with all our equipment. We were shocked to see that the campsite was big enough to accommodate our car. The site came with a picnic table and an iron pit for a fire. The entire space was clean. We didn’t have to clear anything. Toilet and a drinking water tap were close to our site. We had a gorgeous view of Lake Mew in front. As it was next to highway 60, we could see vehicles passing by, which out us off. Because of the vehicles’ constant sound, we didn’t feel that we were inside a national park.
Activities: As we reached late, we had little time to set up the tent and gather wood for the fire. Setting up the tent didn’t take much time. However, gathering wood was a daunting task. We thought it would be easy to find enough wood for the fire, but we could only find twigs and small branches that didn’t last long. Not carrying firewood was a big mistake. We managed to collect wood that lasted for more than 1 hour. While the fire was on, we had our meals. We didn’t cook anything on site as we had carried everything from home. Later at night, we went for a stroll to check on other campers. Almost all of them came with families. We were the only bachelor group. The sky was clear that night, so we stargazed for some time. Looking at a sky filled with bright stars always feels magical.
Day 2: Mew Lake Campground
Pack up: Throughout the night, I could hear squirrels and birds doing something around our tent. If you are a sound sleeper, carry earplugs. We woke up to a foggy morning; baby squirrels were busy collecting tiny pine cones. I was surprised by their co-ordination. One squirrel was on top of a tree pushing pine cones down, and another one was running around collecting them. I wonder where she took them. The authorities visited to clean the washrooms. We packed all our stuff and left. On our way back we wanted to see the Algonquin Arts Centre, but it was closed due to Covid.
Overall, considering it was our very first camping experience, the trip was a success. We learned some valuable lessons by observing other campers, and I hope to camp for multiple nights on my next trip.
What Went Well
It was easy to reach the campsite. We just had to follow the map. The direction boards inside the campground were time savers.
The campsite was huge and was well spaced from other sites. We enjoyed complete privacy. Looking at highway 60, right in front of us, was disheartening. Tip – If you are planning to camp here, don’t book a site facing Mew Lake.
Easy access to facilities. The toilet and water tap were only a few sites away from where we camped.
As we were in a radio free zone, it was incredibly peaceful at night—no loud noises from party campers.
What Could Have Gone Better
We should have reached there early. As we arrived late, we didn’t get much chance to explore the area around the campground. There’s a small beach we wanted to check out, but we couldn’t do so due to time constraints.
Not carrying firewood was a mistake. We had all the other equipment like fire starters, magic burners, iron pit to light a bonfire, but no hardwood.