The Bat Lake Trail in Late Fall
We walked around the Bat Lake Trail in Algonquin Park on a beautiful late November day. This trail visits several widely differing forest ecosystems, including a grove of large hemlock trees and and extensive bog. There is also a lookout with an excellent view.
2006 November 22
We decided to take advantage of a beautiful late November day to walk the Bat Lake Trail off Highway 60 in Algonquin Park. When we left home, it was minus 4C with no wind, and there was a low, diffuse mist that looked more like haze. As we neared the Park, we saw areas of light snow on the higher ground, and there was even more snow in the Park. Lake of Two Rivers was still open, but most of the smaller lakes were thinly frozen over.
As we started our walk, the temperature had risen to minus 1C and the sun was slowly burning off the mist. There were many trees down from the storms of the past summer, but most had been cleared from the trail. Since trail maintenance for the year ends in October, there were a few more recent obstructions, but none too difficult to get around or over.
Soon the trail drops into a wide ravine with a creek running along it.
There are also many wet spots on this section of the trail. The trail mostly follows the creek upstream along the ravine, rising to a fairly narrow place at the top.
Once out of the ravine, the trail runs alongside a beaver swamp through a forest of balsam, birch, cedar and hemlock. Near the end of the swamp, hemlocks dominate the forest, and there are many large trees in an area referred to in the trail guide as a 'cathedral grove'.
From the hemlock grove, the trail climbs up to its highest point, where there is a lookout. By this time the sunshine and the climb had warmed us up quite a bit.
We ate lunch in a sunny spot at the top of the hill. Even here, the sounds from Highway 60 were audible, due to the lack of wind.
At least the climb down is fairly short, and the trail soon levels out in a mainly evergreen forest. Eventually we came to Davies' Bog, a wetland area surrounded by black spruce and tamarack. The trail crosses the bog on a boardwalk.
Farther along the trail we came to Bat Lake. The edge is boggy, with a lot of sphagnum moss and other wetland plants, including some cotton grass. The trail comes out to the water's edge in two places, where boardwalks allow access without wet feet.
Beyond Bat Lake the trail crosses Davies' Bog again, then again passes through a forest of spruce, balsam, birch, and white pine on the return to the parking lot. In this section, there were a lot of blowdowns, some obstructing the trail.
When we arrived back at the car, the temperature had risen to 4C. We sat on the tailgate and had hot coffee from our thermos while enjoying the sunshine and the view of Mew Lake (still frozen) across the highway. Soon we were back on the road, arriving home just after 5:00. Sunset was at 4:30, so it was getting dark and the temperature had fallen to zero by the time we got home.