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Date: April 26th – 27th, 2024

Map and Trip Details for the Trip Report Canisbay, Canisbay, Canisbay and Lake of Two Rivers
To purchase your own copy (physical & digital formats), visit Maps By Jeff


I started documenting the developed campgrounds in Algonquin Park near the end of the 2023 season. I made my way through about half of the 1,300+ campsites. It was an extremely time consuming and tiring task, but I wanted to finish the project during 2024. So, instead of heading to the backcountry right after ice out, I decided to go car camping and continue with the project. There are only two times in the year that I can document the campgrounds; either after the snow melts and before the campgrounds open, or after the campgrounds close before it begins to snow. Both of those are very short windows, so I wanted to take advantage of the opportunity.

I was going to be doing this trip with my friend Dan, and the original plan was to head north towards Kiosk, Brent, and time permitting, east towards Achray. But two days before the trip, Algonquin Park announced that they would be opening a handful of campgrounds earlier than scheduled. This included all three of those campgrounds, as well as a few along Highway 60. As a last minute change, we decided to book a campsite at the nearly vacant Lake of Two Rivers Campground, and spend our days documenting Canisbay Lake Campground. Canisbay wasn’t on the list of campgrounds that opened early, meaning it would be completely empty.

The weather looked promising for the Friday with lots of sunshine and warm temperatures. But it was going to be chilly overnight, hovering around zero degrees, and then starting Saturday morning it was going to rain for the rest of the weekend. Lots of rain. Lots and lots of rain. I was only going to stay for the Friday night, but Dan was going to stay a little bit longer; he booked a backcountry site on Tanamakoon Lake for Saturday night.

Day 1 — Canisbay Lake Campground & Lake of Two Rivers Campground

I woke up at 5:40 AM and got on the road just after 6:00 AM. When I arrived at Canisbay Lake Campground I spent some time catching up with Dan before starting to document the campsites. We split up at 10:00 AM and headed in different directions to tackle two different loops. I was documenting campsites 1 to 52, while Dan did the dog-free zone, campsites 53 to 101. It took us just less than 1.5 hours, a bit less than 2 minutes per campsite.

Normally, after doing the walkthrough to take photos of the campsites, I would do a second walkthrough to get GoPro footage. But this trip I tried something different. I made a contraption where I stuck my new Insta360 in a backpack, up high on a tripod, and did a POV style behind-the-head shot. I was attempting to do the video walkthrough at the same time as taking photos. If the idea worked, it would save a TON of time for the remaining campsites. I quickly reviewed the footage on the small Insta360 screen, and it looked promising.

After finishing those two loops we took a break and chatted for a bit. I only got a few hours of sleep the night prior, so I was exhausted after that first loop. But we continued onwards. Next, we did the northern loop. I did campsites 176 to 211 while Dan did 212 to 232. Again, we averaged less than 2 minutes per campsite, which was great timing. When I finished my section I went and did the Insta360 video for Dan’s section, while he went and took general photos of the campground. Since I didn’t need to stop to take photos, and since the Insta360 captures 360 degrees of content (in case the name Insta360 wasn’t obvious enough), I only needed to walk into the site, do a little loop, then walk out. I was able to move at a rate of 1 minute per campsite, which was pretty awesome.

The Canisbay Lake Campground was an interesting experience to walk through. It was in pretty rough condition after the winter. There were countless downed trees and an insane amount of scattered branches everywhere. It looked like a tornado had made its way through the campground. There were endless moose tracks throughout the campground, as well as throughout the individual campsites. There was plenty of moose poop as well. It all must have been very recent after the snow had melted. I was honestly shocked that we hadn’t seen a moose yet, considering how active they clearly were at the campground. 

Since the hardwood trees were completely bare, the campground was very open with lots of visibility throughout. This would be drastically different once the leaves came back on the trees. Each campsite looked very exposed with little privacy, but in reality, once summertime rolls around, the campsites would have significantly more privacy than during my late-April visit. This is an important piece of info that I’ll need to include when sharing the photos and videos of the campground.

Overall, Canisbay Lake Campground was nice, but the campsites didn’t really appeal to me. There were some that I liked and would enjoy staying at, but as an overall average, I wasn’t too impressed. With the trees full of leaves, it seemed like many campsites would offer great privacy. But most of the campsites have hard gravel ground, and I prefer dirt forest floor similar to the Lake of Two Rivers Campground.

There were lots of park staff driving throughout the campground sporadically. I spoke with one staff who was doing some maintenance… based on my tornado comment earlier, they had a lot of work to get done before the campground opened the following weekend.

Dan and I reconvened at our cars and took another break. We had done more than 20,000 steps and Elo was noticeably getting very tired. It was close to 3:00 PM and I decided to go back to Lake of Two Rivers to set up camp and take a short nap. Dan decided to take his kayak and go for a paddle on Canisbay Lake. I have no idea how he had the energy to keep moving! I’ve personally documented 12 of the 16 backcountry campsites on Canisbay Lake; I asked Dan if the remaining 4 sites were vacant, and only if he was willing, if he would document them. Thankfully, he obliged, and also thankfully they were vacant so he was able to document all four. It looked like I was going to finish documenting Canisbay Lake in its entirety this trip, both the campground and the backcountry!

We booked Campsite #214 at the Lake of Two Rivers Campground. I only had one priority when booking a campsite… I wanted a site that would accommodate pitching a tarp over my tent. Since the forecast was calling for rain early Saturday morning, I didn’t want to pack up a wet tent. I documented the Lake of Two Rivers Campground during the 2023 season, so I was able to reference my own photos while choosing a campsite. Campsite #214 was perfect, except for one thing. The pinecones. All of the pinecones. The entire campsite was basically hidden under a layer of very large pinecones. I saw Elo sitting with one paw in the air, and I realized the sap from the pinecones had created a sticky uncomfortable mess all throughout her paws. I was super tired, but I knew what I needed to do. I spent 20-30 minutes using a branch to sweep away all of the pinecones. I swept pretty much the entire campsite. And then, finally, Elo and I went inside of the tent to take a nap.

At around 5:00 PM I made my way back to Canisbay Lake Campground to join Dan. How the heck did he still have energy!? He started documenting the final loop, campsites 102 to 175, while I went and did the Insta360 videos for the dog-free zone. I continued at my rate of around 1 minute per campsite, and then continued to take videos of the general campground area (beach, permit office, etc.). And then we finally wrapped up for the day. Dan went to set up camp at our campsite while I went to the backcountry beach access to take one final video. Right as I arrived to the beach I got a call from Dan. He said there was a cow moose at the side of the highway on the way back to Lake of Two Rivers. I very quickly grabbed my last video then immediately got in my car and drove to the spot.

Here’s a story of three cars and three moose.

The cow moose was still at the side of the highway when I arrived. There was one other car pulled over, watching the moose from inside their vehicle. They told me there were two more moose in the bushes. I heard the two other moose rustling, but I couldn’t see them. I spent a while photographing the cow moose that was drinking water in a stream beside the highway. Eventually, it decided to cross the highway so I took a video of that. For some reason, a moose in the middle of the highway was always something I wanted to photograph, but I had yet to cross it off my list. Well, today was the day. A car was approaching at the same time that the moose decided to cross, so the car slowed down and gave the moose space to cross. Moose #1 and car #1 were a success.

I finally got a glimpse of the other two moose in the forest. They looked younger, another cow and a juvenile bull without its antlers. I got a few photos and videos through the trees before they approached the same spot on the highway as the earlier cow. The larger of the two crossed the highway, and I got my second set of photos and videos of a moose-crossing. Then the younger bull was ready to cross. A car blasted by and spooked the bull and it spun around to go back into the forest. I felt bad for the young moose. This whole encounter was right after a steep hill, so to the cars defence, they may not have seen the moose. But still, they should have been driving slower.

Now for the third vehicle. This car came over the hill and pulled over at the shoulder, where my car was parked safely out of the way. But then they noticed the moose a little further ahead in a narrow section of the highway, so they drove right up to the moose. They stopped directly in the middle of the road and put their blinkers on. That was incredibly stupid, not only because they were invading the personal space of the moose, but they literally stopped in the middle of a narrow section of the highway. About 20 metres in either direction and the highway would open up, but nope, they needed front row seats to watch the moose. This only scared the moose further inland. The other two moose had already crossed the highway, and now this moose was on its own. I hope they’re smart enough to find each other again. That third car was the worst.

Moose at the side of Highway 60 in Algonquin Park April 2024 v9
Elo Wearing Hurtta Coat in Algonquin Park April 2024 v4
Moose at the side of Highway 60 in Algonquin Park April 2024 v7

After spending probably 30 minutes watching the moose encounter (Elo stayed in my car the entire time), I went back to meet Dan at our campsite. I fed Elo and made myself some dinner before spending the rest of the evening relaxing beside a warm fire with some whiskey. At 11:30 PM we went to the beach to watch the stars. The stars were great, but clouds started to roll in and obstructed the view. We stayed for around 30 minutes, just in time to see the moon begin to rise among the cloud-filled shorelines. I made a last-minute visit to the comfort station and then settled into the tent at around 12:30 AM. Elo was dead tired. I was dead tired. It was around zero degrees so we bundled up and fell asleep immediately. My tent setup was very similar to my November trip from 2023, “Winter’ish Camping at Mew Lake Campground”, so you can check out that Trip Report for details about my packing, gear, tent insulation, etc.

Day 2 — Canisbay Lake Campground & Lake of Two Rivers Campground

I woke up around 5:45 AM after getting about 4 hours of restless sleep. I felt pretty terrible. I had a slow morning packing up camp while making myself breakfast and coffee. Thankfully, the rain hadn’t started yet so I was able to pack up while everything was still dry. Dan woke up around 8:00 AM just as I was about ready to head back to Canisbay Lake Campground. I still needed to do the Insta360 video for campsites 102 to 175, and Dan still had about 40 campsites left to document in that loop.

The sky was mostly overcast and the rain threatened to begin at any moment. I made my way towards Canisbay while Dan stayed behind to pack up his gear. The moment I got started at the campground I knew it was going to be a struggle. My eyes were heavy and my vision was borderline blurry from how tired I was. It was a cool-temperature morning with a gentle breeze, which was actually very refreshing. I powered through and finished the entire loop in just over 1 hour. Still no rain (for now).

Woods Tent with Car and Kayak in Background Algonquin Park April 2024 v1

Dan had arrived and started working on his campsites. I went to lay down on a picnic bench and closed my eyes for 15 minutes with Elo by my side. I continued to lounge and relax while waiting for Dan to finish his campsites. Once he finished, we spoke for a little while before parting ways. I thought he was crazy for venturing into the backcountry with the forecasted weather, but hey, all the power to him. The forecast had turned into an extreme thunderstorm warning with the potential for large hail, but that still wasn’t enough to deter him. He later told me that the storm never happened, and after the rain cleared it ended up being a pretty nice evening.

I got into my car and went to the Visitor Centre. Someone reached out to me online and asked if they could paint one of my photos. I gave them permission, and their painting was part of an exhibit that was being displayed at the Visitor Centre for a few months. I wanted to go see it in person! The moment I finished at the Visitor Centre and got back into my car, it started to rain. The word “rain” might be a bit generous though… it was a torrential downpour. I felt bad for Dan, he must have just set out onto the water shortly before the rain began. For me, it was perfect timing. Even though the drive home wasn’t particularly enjoyable in the rain, at least all of my gear was dry.

The Aftermath

This trip was only two days, but it was an extremely tiring two days. I barely got any sleep the night before the trip or the one night during the trip. I had done a combined 45,000+ steps with Elo tethered to my waist during the two days of this trip. My body was toast. But I was really happy that Dan and I were able to document the entire Canisbay Lake Campground in this one single trip. The fact that Dan was able to document the remaining backcountry campsites on Canisbay Lake, along with the one remaining backcountry campsite on Little Island Lake (that I hadn’t yet documented), was the cherry on top.

The larger campgrounds like Canisbay Lake, Lake of Two Rivers, and Pog Lake, are such daunting tasks to even think about. There’s so much physical work involved with actually documenting the campground, and then 5x as much time required for the digital side of things (eg. getting all the content ready and onto my website). Fully documenting the entire Canisbay Lake Campground in just two days was a big achievement. Thankfully I had Dan’s help, otherwise it would have taken much longer and probably would have required two separate trips (I would not have had the energy to continue any further after those 45,000+ steps!)

The weather ended up being great. The first day was 15 degrees and sunny with a gentle breeze and not a single cloud in the sky. I couldn’t have asked for anything better. The evening was chilly but tolerable, and totally fine when sitting beside the fire. Overnight was cold, with its lowest being minus one degree, but that was totally fine too. I’m no stranger to those temperatures. I brought more than enough insulation for Elo, including her new Hurtta Extreme Warmer jacket as a “probably unnecessary but I’m going to play it safe anyways” measure. The jacket made her look like the wise wizard in a video game that’s about to send you on a quest.

The bugs were practically non-existent. It was pretty soon after ice out and there were a few bugs flying around, but barely biting. I did get one or two bites, but nothing worth complaining about. Dan said he got zero. I’m sure this trip was at the tail end of the bugless season right before the bugapocalypse. 

Overall, this was a short trip, but it was the perfect start to the 2024 season. Elo was happy to be back in Algonquin Park, even though those 45,000+ steps completely drained her. On the plus side, it meant I’d get to enjoy a few relaxing days at home while Elo was in recovery mode, before her normal herding breed energy levels would return to full force!

Campground Information & Campsite Photos

To see all of the campground information collected, including photos for every individual campsite, click on the pages below.

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