April in the Algonquin Backcountry – Early Spring Family Canoe Trip

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After a long winter, as soon as the ice melts we’re always eager to get into the canoe and paddle the Algonquin backcountry.

This winter wasn’t notably harsh in the Algonquin Provincial Park area, but winter held on for a long time. By the end of April there was  two feet of snow and the lakes were still frozen solid.

Hoping for a quick thaw, we decided to tie the red canoe to the car and head up north anyway – hoping to find some open water (and if not, snowshoe and hike cross country anyway)…

Living in southern Ontario, sometimes it’s hard to judge what conditions are really like in the Algonquin Provincial Park area. By the end of April it looked like everything was still frozen solid.

However, with a few very warm days in the forecast – and a spring thaw that was long overdue, we decided to try an early spring backcountry family canoe trip anyway.

Early spring right after ice out is an amazing time of year to go wilderness camping – those warm sunny spring days are amazing, and there are no bugs…or people.

We knew that the big lakes would still be frozen solid – but we were hoping that some of the smaller lakes that have a bit of a current might be navigable by canoe.

As it turned out, we did find some open water – enough for a short wilderness paddle and camping overnight in the backcountry – but not enough for an extended backcountry canoe trip.

This was the kids first time paddling a canoe in snow squalls, and sleeping in a tent below freezing is always cozy – but we were happy to have a beautiful sunny spring day to wake up to.

This series of photos was captured with a Nikon D800 and Nikon 20mm f/1.8 and Sigma ART 35mm f/1.4, along with a polarizing filter.

Family Lifejacket Spring Red Canoe Trip Backcountry Wilderness S
Early spring family wilderness canoe trip to northern Ontario, Canada just after the winter ice has melted on an overcast day with light blowing snow.
Girl Paddle Spring Red Canoe Trip Backcountry Wilderness Snow
Early spring family wilderness canoe trip to northern Ontario, Canada just after the winter ice has melted on an overcast day with light blowing snow.
Family Packing Spring Red Canoe Trip Backcountry Wilderness
Early spring family wilderness canoe trip to northern Ontario, Canada just after the winter ice has melted on an overcast day with light blowing snow.
Family In Spring Red Canoe Trip Backcountry Wilderness Camping
Early spring family wilderness canoe trip to northern Ontario, Canada just after the winter ice has melted on an overcast day with light blowing snow.
Family Paddling Spring Red Canoe Trip Backcountry Wilderness Blo
Early spring family wilderness canoe trip to northern Ontario, Canada just after the winter ice has melted on an overcast day with light blowing snow.
Family Spring Red Canoe Trip Backcountry Wilderness Paddling Sno
Early spring family wilderness canoe trip to northern Ontario, Canada just after the winter ice has melted on an overcast day with light blowing snow.
Spring Red Canoe Trip Backcountry Wilderness Blowing Snow
Early spring family wilderness canoe trip to northern Ontario, Canada just after the winter ice has melted on an overcast day with light blowing snow.
Close Up Paddle Spring Canoe Trip Backcountry Wilderness Blowing
Early spring family wilderness canoe trip to northern Ontario, Canada just after the winter ice has melted on an overcast day with light blowing snow.
Man Campfire Spring Canoe Trip Backcountry Wilderness Camping
Early spring family wilderness canoe trip to northern Ontario, Canada just after the winter ice has melted on an overcast day with light blowing snow.
Boy Campfire Spring Canoe Trip Backcountry Wilderness Camping
Early spring family wilderness canoe trip to northern Ontario, Canada just after the winter ice has melted on an overcast day with light blowing snow.
Morning Coffee Camp Stove Spring Canoe Trip Backcountry Wilderne
Early spring family wilderness canoe trip to northern Ontario, Canada just after the winter ice has melted on an overcast day with light blowing snow.
Man Holding Morning Coffee Spring Red Canoe Trip Backcountry Wil
Early spring family wilderness canoe trip to northern Ontario, Canada just after the winter ice has melted on an overcast day with light blowing snow.
Spring Red Canoe Trip Backcountry Wilderness Snow Morning Coffee
Early spring family wilderness canoe trip to northern Ontario, Canada just after the winter ice has melted on an overcast day with light blowing snow.
Man Coffee Morning Spring Red Canoe Trip Backcountry Wilderness
Early spring family wilderness canoe trip to northern Ontario, Canada just after the winter ice has melted on an overcast day with light blowing snow.
Family Paddling Spring Canoe Trip Backcountry Wilderness Ice Lak
Early spring family wilderness canoe trip to northern Ontario, Canada just after the winter ice has melted on cold, bright sunny morning.
Spring Family Paddling Red Canoe Trip Backcountry Wilderness Ice
Early spring family wilderness canoe trip to northern Ontario, Canada just after the winter ice has melted on cold, bright sunny morning.
Spring Red Canoe Trip Backcountry Wilderness Ice Lake Sunny Day
Early spring family wilderness canoe trip to northern Ontario, Canada just after the winter ice has melted on cold, bright sunny morning.

All spring family canoe trip photos from this session are available for royalty free licensing at Stocksy United. 

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JP Danko

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JP Danko is an active lifestyle photographer based in Toronto, Canada. JP can change a lens mid-rappel, swap a memory card while treading water, or use a camel as a light stand.

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