Online map of Algonquin Park
Scroll to zoom in and out and click and drag to reposition the map:
Credit: Jeff’s Map
Spanning a massive 7,653 km², Algonquin is the largest provincial park in Ontario. It’s approximately 1,500+ lakes, 1,200 km of streams, and over 2,000 km of canoe routes and portages make mapping (and maintaining the map) a huge undertaking – one that is difficult to fit everything on one sheet that’ll fit into your back pocket.
Thankfully, having all this to explore makes it one of the most popular parks in Ontario – seeing over 800,000 visitors and bringing in over $10,000,000 annually – so there are a few mapping companies to choose from.
Here’s a quick comparison:
Map fidelity comparison
Backroad Mapbooks (BM) is missing a site marker on the large island in Misty Lake, showing 2 instead of 3, and the markers are quite imprecisely placed – likely a casualty of the map’s scale – as well as missing a site marker on the island on the west side of the lake before the portage to Little Misty.
Note the difference in the length of the portage between Misty Lake and Timberwolf to the south – Jeff’s Map (JM) states that while the sign says 765m, which is what BM reports, the actual distance is 845m – which is similarly shown on The Adventure Map (TAM).
Note the additional details provided on JM including estimated paddling and portage times, mud warnings and POI markers. It is more information dense which is great for planning, but maybe a bit “busy” for following a route and navigating. Unlike the others, it is lacking topographic contours to show elevation and steepness.
TAM is higher contrast with clearer topographic lines and it’s scale is less than half of the others’, allowing the shape of the shoreline and placement of the markers to be more precise, which is makes locating your position based on geography and landmarks easier if you don’t have phone/GPS handy.
Best Algonquin Park map for planning – Backroad Mapbooks
- Price: $20
- Size: 117 x 86 cm
- Scale: 1:140,000
- Waterproof: Yes
- Floats: Yes
- App: Google Play ($9.99), App Store ($6.99)
- Accompanying digital version: Avenza Maps, Locus Map, Topo Maps+
Founded in 1993, Backroad Mapbooks is based in Coquitlam, BC and is Canada’s top-selling source of outdoor recreation maps.
Released in 2018, this all-in-one map covers the entire park and then some. It has topographic lines which can give you an idea of how difficult a particular portage or hiking trail will be.
The backside of the map includes a smaller scale (1:75,000) map that focuses in on area around Highway 60 which cuts through the middle of the park and provides more details of the more popular access points including Canoe Lake, Smoke Lake and Opeongo Lake. This secondary map spans from Ralph Bice Lake to the east arm of Opeongo Lake along the top and from Oxtongue River to the East Gate (where Hwy 60 crosses the park border) along the bottom.
However, much of this information isn’t necessary once you’re out in the wild and essentially becomes dead space.
At more than a metre across, the map can get a bit unwieldy while on-the-go and folding it down to a specific area of interest can be challenging.
The legend is quite extensive and includes a lot of information that makes planning a trip easier, such as:
- 34 pre-made paddling routes, including length, portage length and difficulty
- 34 hiking trails, including length, elevation and difficulty
- 3 backpacking trails, including length, elevation and difficulty
- Facts about the park
- Park rules and regulations
- Entry and camping fees
- What lakes to find 7 different species of fish and which are stocked
- Types of access points and locations
- Trip planning resources
- Contact information for emergencies and outfitters
I could do without the strip of advertisements along the middle and down the side on the backside of the map (there are no ads on the front, thankfully). They are somewhat filling in what would otherwise be empty space and likely help keep the cost of the map down, but they’re kind of intrusive and there could always be more map or park information there instead.
If you would prefer to use your phone to navigate and track your location, they have their own app which allows you to download and use their map offline. The app lets you track and place your own waypoints, includes hundreds of POIs and records your pathing for later viewing and editing.
The details provided for fishing lakes including species and which are stocked are well-liked by reviewers. Having access to all of this and having your location always on can eat up your battery, so you may want a physical map as a backup or a power bank to charge your phone.
Best Algonquin Park map for navigating – The Adventure Map
- Price: $15 ($9 for Opeongo/Canoe Lake)
- Size: ?
- Scale: 1:60,000 to 1:80,000 (1:40,000 to 1:50,000 for Opeongo/Canoe Lake)
- Waterproof: Yes
- Floats: ?
- App: No
The Adventure Map by Chrismar Mapping Services splits Algonquin up into a series of smaller-scale maps (more zoomed in). The scale is approximately half that of Backroad Mapbooks’. Since each map only has to cover a fraction of the park, they are more compact, far less cumbersome than the larger more all-inclusive maps and fold into smaller size.
Rather than simply tracing outdated, generalized government topos or buying data (as they claim other map providers do), they use aerial photogrammetry to create a completely original “made-from-scratch” contour map showing exceptional terrain detail to provide a high degree of clarity. We’ve noticed this during our trips and is primarily why we named their maps “best for navigating”.
The high contrast between the dark blue water and light green land makes the map easy to read in most light conditions.
- Topographic contour lines
- Geographic notes: hills, depressions, cliffs, glaciers
- Colour-coded vegetation: forests, open areas, avalanche chutes, wetlands
- Markers: campsites, portages, rapids, falls, distances, toilets, POIs
- UTM Grid (GPS-ready) and magnetic north (compass-ready)
Some of the details might be getting a little old as the data for AL1 was collected in 2012, but on their website they claim to be regularly updated every 2 to 4 years. During our 3 trips through the park, we have never found any significant contradictions between its details and reality.
The backside includes a detailed visitor’s guide with dense details interspersed with colour photos of the wildlife and views you hope to see during your time in the park. While history, descriptions of POIs and photos are interesting, the backside is not as utility-focused for either planning or navigating or as as well formatted as other options:
Which one should you buy?
Unlostify Map of Algonquin Park
The Jeff of the well-known Jeff’s Maps – Jeffrey McMurtrie – and co-creator Deki Kim have published excellent maps of Killarney, Kawartha Highlands, Massasauga and West French River – and their map of Algonquin is being released sometime in 2021. It will be broken up into multiple parts rather than a mega-map. Follow their Facebook page to be notified when the map is out.
What to expect
Unlostify’s maps are excellent for planning your trips as everything is very visual.
The front side is the planning map. It has a whiteboard coating so you can brainstorm and sketch out your proposed route, make notes and then snap a pic to the other members of your party to see what they think.
They have colour-coded route difficulty (newbie, mild, moderate and extreme), POIs colour coded by type (water, nature, historical and activities) and rated 1 to 3 stars so you know how far out of the way you should be willing to go to get to it, portage steepness ratings and estimated travel times based on your level of skill, which makes it easier to plan where you’ll make camp at the end of each day. The routes are drawn in glow-in-the-dark ink so you can read the map in the early morning and late evening.
The backside is the trip/navigating map which is less cluttered and only include the info you need. If there’s one area for improvement for Unlostify’s maps is that the fidelity of the shoreline’s contours is lacking and some small islands and streams aren’t shown altogether (which gave us a bit of trouble while circumnavigating Philip Edward Island) – making them weaker for navigating than The Adventure Map series. This isn’t a big deal as in most cases you’ll still get to where you’re going, but it’s nice to know all the options on every route!
Jeff’s Map of Algonquin Provincial Park
Good for planning, but no longer available
- Scale: 1:84,000
- Waterproof: Yes
Unfortunately, Jeff’s Map’s are no longer available for sale through their website. The online version they provided at algonquinmap.com is also no longer working since major web browsers stopped supporting Adobe Flash Player in early 2021. We are hosting a copy of that online map here using a different plugin to ensure it stays available to the public until they update their website and the map becomes available again.
Note: The Jeff of Jeff’s Maps has left the company and has founded Unlostify – which provides beautiful, accurate, and easy to use camping maps for Killarney, French River, Kawartha Highlands & Massasauga (and Algonquin – coming 2021) that I’ve personally used and can recommend for planning your next trip.
Until then, you can buy a waterproof physical copy of Backroad Mapbooks’ Algonquin Park Map: