I have always wanted to get up to Brent in Algonquin but it was always way to far for me to go. Now that I live in Muskoka, the drive is the same as what I used to drive to get from Niagara to Hwy. 60 in Algonquin, 3.5 hours, so I figured it was time for a visit. I had made some plans to go camping with a friend that weekend but she got very sick and couldn’t make it, so I did some quick planning to see what I could come up with. As I’d done very little car camping this year and could use a relaxing weekend, I decided I would aim for that. But, being August, there wasn’t much available, except in North Algonquin. Since I wanted to go there anyways, it was perfect for me! The forecast didn’t look bad either!
Brent had about 4 or 5 sites open which included 3 non reservable sites. I had my eye on one of the non reservables and watched it the 2 days before heading out. At 5am Saturday I checked one last time and saw it was still open. My ETA for the campground was around 8am, an hour after they opened, so hopefully, no one would come in between 7 and 8 and snatch it up. I fully packed for both car camping and kayak camping. Cedar lake had lots of sites open for backcountry camping as well, so if I didn’t get a good site car camping, I would just switch a few things up and head out to a backcountry site. No worries.
The drive was lovely except for some extreme fog in the first few hours. Once it cleared up I even saw a few deer en route. I arrived at the Brent office a few minutes past eight and entered to find a lovely Ontario Parks representative who happily confirmed site 26, the non reservable site I’d hoped for, was open still. YES! I was a happy camper.
I registered, took a photo and headed down the horrible 40 km gravel road, complete with washboard rutts in it, to the actual campground. The drive seemed to take forever and in many places you could only go 20km/hr. Others you could go a bit faster. Regardless, it was not even 9am and I had the whole day and night and the whole day tomorrow to explore the area so YIPPEE for me.
When I arrived at the campground, I was a bit confused. It seemed downtown Brent was in the middle of the small campground, including a tiny Alogonquin Outfitters store which I would definately check out later. How quaint it all was.
I arrived at my site and was elated. The woman at the desk was right, I would and did like this site. it was out of the way of the others and except for the double site next to me which had a bit beach full of kids, it was fairly quiet. I began the set up process.
I had brought both my Marmot backcountry tent and my giant princess car camping tent. I decided to use the princess tent. I hadn’t used it in ages and with it came the option of using my cot air bed, which I also brought. We were expecting some rain and with this setup I could chillout inside the tent, stay nice and dry and have lots of room to put a fold up chair in it and read my book and be able to stretch out and be comfortable. Why not?
Setting up some tents, solo, is a bit of a challenge sometimes. There are moments when you could really use an extra set of hands and this was definitely one of them. Fortunately, I’ve set this tent up alone quite a few times and I had my helpers ready and waiting for me. Trees are friends, as are rocks.
Shortly after the tent was set up and good to go! I had a gorgeous view of the lake! I put the cot bed in it, inflated the mattress and put my sleeping bag on top with my pillow. Check! Check! Check!
Next I took my kayak off my car and put it down by the water. I had my own private launch site and although it was a little rocky, it wasn’t an issue at all.
As it was expected to rain, I decided to put up my new tarp. Well, I’ve had it for about 2 months now, but it’s still pretty new to me and I love it. I once again used my knots that I learned in my level 2 sea kayaking course, which are the best knots ever in my book! I laid the tarp out where I wanted it, put the ropes in the trees and used the slider knots to raise the tarp up. I only had to readjust one of the lines, so that made me pretty happy!
Now I was ready for the rain, in other words, time to go out and play! I went for a quick swim to cool off and then headed out for a paddle!
I saw this very cool dude on the dock waiting to kill me…. errr… what? LOL. He was creepy and at first, like I assume others have, I thought it might be real. Freaky indeed!
I saw something strange and blue on the shoreline and thought I’d go take a closer look. They were made of Styrofoam of some type and looked awful sitting there. Only one thing to do, pack them out! I could barely fit the one piece on my boat, but I got it on there. It made a horrible mess too, but I just couldn’t paddle by and leave garbage sitting there, so with me, it came!
I continued on exploring Cedar lake and loving it. The weather was pretty good, not too windy, but warm and starting to get overcast. The rain wasn’t expected til 1am or so, but by the looks of it, it was coming sooner. As I had absolutely no internet at all, I couldn’t really check, so I just kept my eyes on the clouds and if it got nasty out, I’d go back to my site.
I came across a swampy area near the west end of the lake that looked really cool. There were some portages there so I decided to paddle in as far as I could and check it out. I loved small waterways like this, so calm and full of wildlife. Here the wind didn’t blow and it was very peaceful.
It was so pretty, I just sat in my boat enjoying the calm.
Eventually, I had to move on and paddled back into the main area of the lake. I continued on my trip around the lake and came across some small falls that were near the portage.
After checking out a campsite just past the portage, the wind picked up alot. It started to rain and the sky was very dark. As we were eventually expecting thunderstorms, I decided I should head back to my site. I didn’t want to get caught in the middle of the lake when lightening struck, so always, better safe than sorry.
When I got back to my site, I decided to hang my hammock. I hadn’t put it up before as I wanted to get on the water while the weather was still decent, but now that it was raining, it seemed like a good time. I decided to hang it right under my tarp, so I could relax and enjoy it during the rain. I had no idea how long the rain would last but originally it was to start around midnight and rain until morning. I had no way to check if that was still the case, with it starting at 4pm, so I just had to assume it would rain all that time and prepare for it. That way, it wouldn’t affect me, one way, or another.
I tested out the hammock and it was perfect! I got the fire going before it started raining too hard, in hopes it would stay lit. Then I started getting dinner ready. I was so hungry and couldn’t wait for my steak dinner! YUM! I even brought the coleman grill just in case I didn’t end up backcountry camping. I hadn’t used it all summer and it was a nice upgrade from my wee backcountry stove.
Dinner came out fabulous and I sat under my tarp in my sheltered area, listening to the light rain and enjoying my meal with a view. Life was good! Then I relaxed in my hammock and read the Algonquin Times! LOL
It was a great night, the rain fell lightly and I chilled out in my awesome ENO hammock. I even read my book, a whole 5 chapters which was pretty awesome for me. I always bring a book, but never crack the cover, ever, so I was happy I got a bit of reading done in this trip! It was my plan, to come here, be outdoors at a great location, and do my best to relax, something I wasn’t very good at, so I was glad I was achieving my goal somewhat!
I had quite a few frogs visit me while I was chilling out. They seemed to like the rain. I managed to stay awake until around 1030, then decided to get to bed. I was tired and I knew I would be up at the crack of dawn to head out for a paddle and get some sunrise pics (if I was lucky.) I was happy I had my princess tent and my cot air bed. With no fears at all, I went to sleep and had an awesome rest! I was solo car camping, compared to solo backcountry, this was not even close to as scary!
I woke up around 6am and after a quick visit to the nearby washrooms, which were fairly decent btw.
I hit the water to check out the sunrise that was behind the trees next to my site. Sometimes the only way to see the sunrise is to get in the kayak and paddle to it and I was excited to see what was waiting around the corner. I only paddled to my right the previous day, not my left at all, so this morning I was ready to explore that side of the lake.
It was pretty nice on this side of the lake as well. There were a few ranger cabins I passed and a couple of car camping sites. The sky looked very ominous and I knew there was (as of yesterday) a thunderstorm warning for this morning. I wanted to paddle for hours, but I imagined I would have to cut it short at some point if I was being smart about it.
I ran into some loons that sang me a little song. They didn’t sing long but long enough to put a huge grin on my face. There was nothing like the sound of loons and it was one of my favorites of all time, for sure.
Just then the sun popped up over the trees. It only stayed out for a few moments and then disappeared behind the clouds, but it was really beautiful while it lasted. Unfortunately, with the sky getting darker and darker, I decided I had to do the right thing and get off the water. There was no sound of thunder, but if it did start, I was way too far from my site to make it back safely. Being in the middle of a lake, during a thunderstorm, is not where I want to be, so sadly, I returned to my site and opted to check out the land portion of the park for now.
I got back and noticed lots of mushrooms along my route. I first went to the right of my site to see what was there. I found two ranger cabins and the end of the road. There was also a sign giving information about the cabins and the area. I loved these so stopped to read all the info and take a pic, of course.
Then I turned around and walked down the road towards downtown Brent. LOL.
I arrived about 10 minutes later although I was walking slowly and checking out all the cool things along the way. Eventually I arrived at the ‘downtown’ and the store, which I was suprised was open already.
The front of the store has these cool sign boards you can write on to leave your mark. I think this is a great idea so people put their signatures somewhere they should, instead of leaving grafitti. I, of course, had to leave my mark as well.
After checking out what some of the people had written, I headed towards the inside of the store and was pretty impressed with it and all the memorabilia I saw there.
First I read the info on the boards on the outside, then checked out the inside.
The Brent Algonquin Outfitters Store is a cool place full of really neat things! Not only do they have lots of gear available there, but they also rent canoes and can outfit you for trips into the back country.
I continued on down the camp road and arrived at the boat launch parking lot. A few were coming and going but overall it was pretty quiet.
When I was on the dock I looked over and saw the opening to a trail. Of course, being an explorer, I had to go check it out.
I found alot of mushrooms on the trail and they were so interesting I had to take pictures of them all… and a frog. LOL.
After completing the trail, which was only a short loop, I headed back to my campsite to make some breakfast. I had been up adventuring for hours on an empty stomach. Not good. I made up some sunny side up eggs on toast, which were delicious, and of course, a hot chocolate with a splash of baileys. The way every day should begin !
I did a bit of relaxing in the chair and the hammock. I had until 2pm to get off the site and I planned on spending my time there until I had to leave. I wanted to go back out on the water but I knew I couldn’t due to the thunderstorm warning, so I eventually put my boat back up on my car for the drive home later. I played around with my camera taking pics and read a bit more of my book and relaxed as well.
Before I knew it, it was time to head out of the park. I stopped at the disposal area and got rid of the big blue Styrofoam pieces I’d paddled out of Cedar Lake and headed to check out Brent Crater Trail. I had had this trail book since 2001 when I purchased one of each of every trail book for Algonquin Park, but had never been up here to use it, so now that I was finally here, I had to hike the trail and check it out.
I drove the few km’s out to the trail and parked my car. My stomach hadn’t been feeling too good most of the morning but I ignored it because I wanted to do this trail so badly after all this time. Unfortunately, that was a big mistake and after about a half a km or so, things got worse. I had no choice but to turn around and head back to the car. I was so bummed…. pardon the pun…. but not much I could do about it.
As a consolation, I drove up to the Brent Crater Lookout platform and checked that out.
The view was pretty awesome and although the area is just too big to photograph, I did my best. I took a panoramic shot, but it didn’t do the view justice. Sometimes, seeing things live is the only way to see them.
After reading all the plaques and checking out the views I started the long journey down the awful road in and out of the park.
While I was driving I came across the access into the North River, which is another place I wanted to check out in the future. When I went to the put in I was pretty amazed. The area was so full of trees and shrubs and brush and the waterway was incredibly narrow and appeared shallow.
I was tempted to put my kayak in and see how far I could paddle but due to my upset tummy, I decided it wasn’t in my best interest and continued on. First I had to check out this little gem I found near the put in. LOL
Shortly after I saw a turn off for Wendigo Lake and thought what the heck? It’s only 2kms and who knew when I’d be back here? So, I drove the 2 km’s to check it out. The first km was fine, a windy dirt road, no worries. But just at the end of the first km, I came upon a river. hahaha. In the middle of the road, well, where the road should be. At first I thought it was impassable, but then I figured what the heck? I was on a one lane road and I had no way of turning around. I wasn’t about to drive backwards an entire km so onward I went praying all the way that I wouldn’t get stuck.
and I didn’t! When I looked left out of my window, below is what I saw. Basically the water level is way above the road level and the only thing that seems to be holding the water back is a beaver dam. After noticing that…. I drove quickly through and back onto the road at the other side. With my luck, that beaver dam would break as I was driving past it! LOL
I had some gorgeous views along this drive and eventually came out to a dock at Wendigo Lake.
I contemplated going for a swim before heading home, but then decided against it and hit the road for my three hour plus drive back to Port Carling.
The trip back was great, except 15 minutes before arriving home, I hit a deer. I had almost hit one about a month ago in the exact same spot coming home from Algonquin and that occurrence prompted me to go out and buy deer whistles for my car. Since then I’d not seen a deer near the road while driving and I was convinced they were working and I was invincible. Not so much. Seems they don’t work?
I was driving along going the speed limit which was 80km/hr and there it was standing on the side of the road, but on the road. I slammed on my brakes as I knew no one was behind me and no one was coming towards me. My car skidded across the road making that sound, and all my gear attempted to become part of the front seat. The deer turned and stared me right in the eye, and now I know exactly what the term “deer in the headlights” comes from. He stared right at me! The car screeched to a halt and just bumped the deer who then fell under my car and felt like it legs, at least, went under my front left tire. I screamed and waited and suddenly, he popped up, and drunkenly walked, then ran into the bushes on the other side of the road. I pulled over a bit ahead and off on the shoulder and inspected my car, nothing, not a mark anywhere, so odd. I went over to where the deer went into the forest and I found the same, nothing. Sigh. I hope it was okay and now, I was paranoid about driving up north. Great. Stupid deer. Urg.
It wasn’t the best end to the weekend, but the weekend overall was pretty awesome and I enjoyed it, all except for the end.
If you are looking for a quiet remote campground in Algonquin, be sure to check out Brent. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
Thanks for checking out my post and I hope to see you again soon! Lots of great posts coming up…. I know because I’ve already lived some of them!!! You’ll see! Please leave a message or a comment and I’ll get back to you!