Algonquin Outfitters is an outdoor adventure company and store that takes you into the wilderness or equips you to get there on your own. The company began in 1961 as a single small business and has now grown into a chain of several retail and seasonal stores located around the park, with locations in Muskoka and the Haliburton Highlands.
The centre of the business is canoe trips, but their services and equipment offerings have grown far beyond this singular view. They carry kayaks, canoes, mountain and road bikes – for rent or purchase – water skis, cross-country skis, snowboards and wakeboards. In other words, if it’s outdoor gear you need, Algonquin Outfitters can help.
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More about Algonquin Outfitters
Algonquin Outfitters began as a small business with the first location at Oxtongue Lake, Ontario. The founder, Bill Swift Sr., better known as “Swifty,” and partner Dave Wainman opened the business in 1961 with a rental fleet of 40 cedar-canvas canoes.
The company believes in quality staff who know their trade. Those who work the counters in-store are equally important as those who take visitors out on the trails and waterways of Algonquin Provincial Park, where they do most of their outdoor work.
The company has three locations inside Algonquin Provincial Park at Lake Opeongo, Lake of Two Rivers and Brent. These locations operate seasonally and provide rental and retail services from late April until Canadian Thanksgiving in October. Locations in Hidden Valley Highlands and Sir Sam’s ski areas operate during the winter months only. These locations do demo programs, sell clothing and accessories, and rent out snowboards and skis.
Their other retail locations can be found in Oxtongue Lake, Bracebridge Port Carling, Huntsville, Haliburton and Minden, where they carry equipment, gear, clothing, and other items. Each location is distinct from the other, with a unique personality shining through as they cater to the particular needs of the community in which it serves. Each location, save for the Port Carling location which only offers rentals, has a retail presence.
Algonquin Outfitters offers a wide range of outdoor-oriented services including rentals for mountain and road bikes, canoes and kayaks, snowshoes and Nordic skis, camping and hiking gear, stand up paddleboards and water trampolines.
Their qualified tour guides lead guided Algonquin Park trips, Hailstorm Creek Wildlife viewing trips, half-day Costello Creek trips, and snowshoe safaris. Self-guided trips for wildlife viewing, canoeing and biking trips are also available..
The company primarily operates within Algonquin Provincial Park. Their qualified staff lead canoe trips of varying lengths into the park or rent the equipment for your own personally designed canoe trip (and deliveries are available). Algonquin Outfitters offers access to canoe routes and maps for the region to make your trip easier and safer.
Their website also offers extensive information on what to pack, how to deal with various concerns along the way, such as portaging, and whether or not kayaking along the typical canoe routes of the area is recommended.
Algonquin Provincial Park itself covers 7,653 square kilometres of rugged Canadian Shield terrain, with over 2,000 kilometres of canoe routes. Canoers and kayakers can paddle their way through lakes and streams and follow portage trails through the interior of the dense forests. Much of the park is only accessible by canoe. Motorboats are restricted on most lakes in the park, fly-ins are prohibited, and only one road, Highway 60, offers road access.
Throughout the rustic park, portages and campsites are well-maintained and clearly marked, with readily available maps for easy navigation. Backpacking is another popular activity in the park, for those less water-centric.
The park is also home to many picnic areas, sandy beaches, day hiking trails, and the incredible scenery only this region of Ontario can offer. A number of mountain bike trails weave their way through the park.
When visiting the park, look out for local wildlife. There are approximately 3,500 moose in the park, 2,000 black bears and 35 packs of wolves. During late August and into early autumn, visitors have been known to howl for wolves and received a response from a nearby pack.
Beavers can be found along the Beaver Pond Trail, white-tailed deer abound, chipmunks and red squirrels can be spotted easily and a favourite waterfowl, the common loon, is often seen and heard on the many lakes around the park. Additionally, you may spot foxes, otters, and any of the plethora of butterflies that flit through the park. More than 272 species of birds have been spotted within the boundaries, as well, making the park a birdwatcher’s paradise.
For those not quite ready to venture in too deep on portage trails, there are 12 drive-in campgrounds with easy access to parking facilities, hiking trails, day canoe trips, and other outdoor activities. The park also has lodges and resorts for those looking for a rustic but-not-quite-so-rustic experience.