Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Mizzy Lake Trail

Mizzy Lake Trail in Algonquin Park is a beautiful 13 km walk in the northern woods. It's rather rough underfoot with many tree roots and rocks, but there aren't any steep climbs. It travels alongside numerous ponds and small lakes, and if you get there early in the morning, you will most likely see moose and beaver in the water. There are wolves in the area too, but chances are you will never see them as they are quite shy. This trail is noted for its wildlife viewing, but early morning, and early evening are the keys to seeing anything.

It's my favourite trail in the park because it's rather dark and mysterious in those woods, and the trail is very narrow which makes it seem more like you're following an animal trail than one blazed by people. It's also a very quiet trail, and during the heat of a summer's day, you are lucky to hear even one bird singing high in the tree canopy.

Hiking along you are suddenly surprised to see beaver meadows glowing green in the sunshine with soft grasses blowing in a faint breeze. These glimpses of meadows and ponds and creeks are like looking through a window at a beautiful scene.

beaver dam

It was an extremely hot day when my husband and I traipsed through the woods, and all that water was looking more and more tempting, let me tell you!

Halfway around the trail, we follow a short stretch of disused railway track. The track is out in the open and spans a couple of large beautiful ponds. Unfortunately, this is prime nesting grounds for deerfly, and they mercilessly attack you all the way along the open stretch. It's annoying because you want to linger and admire the ponds, and hopefully see some wildlife, but the deerfly keep you moving! This year my husband packed his bug net that goes over his hat. He has a bad reaction to deerfly bites and wasn't taking any chances. I don't mind them so much because I know these flies will dive-bomb you for ages before they finally settle in for the bite. I just kept flicking the back of my shirt every so often to get them off me before that happened. 

People often see moose feeding in these shallow ponds in early morning. One couple we saw said their friend saw a moose here that morning around 7:00 a.m.  We did hear a moose giving a call when we were passing an earlier pond, but couldn't see one. 

One of these ponds (following) is called Wolf Howl Pond since this is where some wonderful recordings of wolf howls were made back in the 1970s.

There is a 2 km side loop that you can walk up that supposedly has some "bear nests" up in the beech trees. Bears will climb beech trees and break down branches to provide a platform or nest. This gives them a comfy spot to munch away on the ripened beech nuts. We had never done that loop before, so decided to give it a try this trip. It's not a very popular path, and is becoming a bit overgrown in places. Not to mention it was a bit eerie walking through the woods to an area known to be frequented by black bears! But on we went. We were greeted at the start of the loop by this inquisitive grey jay. They remind me of giant chickadees with their masked faces and friendly approach to humans (they'll come to your hand for seeds just like chickadees). We didn't have anything to feed him, so he soon left us on our own ... with the bears. 

The bear nests are difficult to see (so said our guide book), and I didn't see any! We did find lots of scratch marks on the trees' soft trunks from bears climbing up the trees, however. I was rather thankful that beech nuts weren't ripe yet, so we didn't have any bear encounters ... maybe in a week or so after our visit the beech nuts would be in prime shape for harvesting. 

My parents had two huge beech trees on their property, and whenever the beech nuts ripened and fell to the ground, you could no longer walk barefoot in that corner of our yard as the nuts have a very prickly shell, and they were littered across the grass!

We made our way back on the return trip, stopping a couple of times to rest for a quick snack and long drinks of water. At the muddy spots in the trail we saw what looked to be very fresh moose tracks (and also someone's bare feet prints!?). We started looking for them in every muddy spot along the trail, until eventually they ran out, and we were back out at a small lake. Two men were sitting at the lake resting (with a bottle of wine), and immediately asked us "Did you see the moose?!" What?! We told them we only saw the moose tracks, but no moose. They told us it was a big bull moose and was just off the path enjoying a munch on some leaves in a particularly leafy section of the trail. Darn it! I knew exactly where they meant as it was super hot through that part with low underbrush on either side, and lots of raspberry canes too. I was concerned about the bears at that point. So we walked right passed him and didn't even know it! I find it amazing that an animal the size of a moose, with enormous antlers, can easily glide through a dense forest and you won't even see him. Oh well.

This is another beaver meadow that you cross over on a boardwalk. It's always extremely quiet in this meadow, and that day it was dead still. It's peaceful for a few minutes, but the longer you stay there, the longer it feels a bit, um, lonely, and far away. But I do love these spaces with real atmosphere, don't you?

We finished the trail having seen one beaver in one of the ponds, a painted turtle, and a grey jay. We heard the moose calling, and saw the tracks, but no moose that day. We were rewarded all through our week with seeing other moose though, and I'll share those next post.

Looking through the forest along the path ... there are probably all kinds of moose in there!
Thanks for stopping by!



  1. And this is how I know that you live in another country: there are no bears in the beech trees in my local woods. BEARS?? And moose? It's strictly rabbits and squirrels here. I love this post, Wendy, the pictures are beautiful and I am looking forward to the next one. x

  2. Hello, I would love to see bears and moose. Just as long as I was a good distance away. I enjoyed your hike and the lovely photos from the park.

  3. I think you are both very brave Wendy what would you have done if you had encountered any bears! I don't like the sound of those deerfly either I would be wearing a net too. The scenery is beautiful thank you for sharing it with us. :) xx

  4. Looks like an incredible place to walk, hate deer fly, we get them here in the spring and they're merciless.

  5. Thanks for taking us along on your hike, Wendy. This is the first time that I've heard of bear nests. Glad you didn't have any beary scary run-ins!

  6. Don't think I've ever walked the Mizzy Lake Trail, but I have walked part of the old railway - in the winter on snowshoes I think it was. Such a wonderful place at any season..

  7. What a lovely place in the woods, my friend. How I would love to walk among those trees :) We have lots of bears, elk, and deer here and it's quite common to see them wandering around. We have some moose, but I have never seen one....maybe someday {{smiles}}

    Have a wonderful Thursday and thank you for sharing your beautiful hike with us. Hugs!

  8. The colour and images in your photos are so beautiful, Wendy. I'm always a bit wary of running into bears when we hike in the woods - so much so that for Christmas Tim bought me an air horn! Moose are so ungainly looking, but equally graceful. An paradox of nature. Looking forward to seeing your photos of one.

  9. Such a beautiful place and very wild-looking! You are brave to hike near bears and moose and wolves, and a bit eerie to think they are right there and you didn't know.
    Your photos are wonderful - I can hear the silence. Thanks for taking us along! x Karen

  10. What a lovely place to be trekking in, Wendy. And so exciting to be near a moose - I look for one every time we go to Canada. Also beavers, and I saw one swim across a lake last year, but would love to see them up close. It must be very pleasant in this area.

  11. Good Morning Wendy,
    What a serene, inspiring and motivating hike you embarked upon.
    Your countryside is gorgeous-reminds me a bit of Colorado but of course much lusher.
    Moose are such fascinating animals, we actually have several of them that live on the farm in Idaho down by the snake river and next to the larger ponds.
    I love nature-we think we might purchase a few acres in Colorado next Summer and put a 5th a wheel on it. It is a manageable driving distance from where we live in Texas.

  12. The beaver dam is beautiful! Thanks for the photos ♥

  13. Beautiful! And you're right - that deep blue water looks very inviting!

  14. Wonderful photos and what a great place to hike, although a bit 'rough' for my liking and ability and FEAR! haha.

  15. You're right about moose being easy to miss even though they are enormous. I've been working in the woods and watched moose walk by but didn't hear a thing - if I hadn't been looking right at the animal, I wouldn't have known it was there.

  16. I love that trail. I've done it several times. The only time I regretted doing it was one time during blackfly season.


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