My better half and I recently decided to load up our ATVs on the trailer, and book a getaway somewhere we had not been to before—for fun and to just do something different. After exploring our options, we settled on a small cottage resort in Whitney, just a few kilometres east of the east gate entrance to Algonquin Park on Highway 60.
Highway 60 continues west as the only thoroughfare through Algonquin Park, through the town of Dwight, on to Huntsville, further east toward Madawaska, and through the Madawaska Valley. We chose to stay at the Adventure Lodge, situated directly on the mighty Madawaska River, at an especially scenic location, with nine very nice log cabins to stay in. It’s also directly on the multi-use trail T6.4, part of the Haliburton ATV Club – which is by far the largest of all the ATV clubs in Ontario, as well as the club with the most members, and the most kilometres of trail (by a large margin!)
Romantic Resorts in and Around the Park
We drove to Whitney from Highway 11 to Highway 60 through Huntsville, and through Algonquin Park, and stopped in to have a look at one of the resorts within the park, the lovely Killarney Lodge. It does seem like a wonderful place to stay, and there are many more just like it for those who wish to stay within the park.
Before arriving at the Adventure Lodge, we made another stop at the Couples Resort (they also own the Adventure Lodge). It is possibly the most luxurious resort north of Toronto, period. It's for couples only, where it is Valentine’s Day every day, with a five-star rating. We met briefly with owner John Sorenson, and he couldn't be a nicer guy! If you are looking to do something special to treat your significant other, this may be the very best place in Ontario to do it!
ATVing at the Adventure Lodge
We then pulled into our destination, the Adventure Lodge, and met with the resort managers, Ken and Penny Reed, who I soon found out, are also the chefs. They served us up delicious breakfasts and real gourmet dinners every night, which are also included in the price of the cottage! This frees up your whole day to do whatever it is you choose to do, and there are a myriad of options to choose from.
The lodge is open nearly year round and is very accommodating to snowmobilers, ATVers, hikers, kayakers – anyone who wants to get out and enjoy the vast wilderness in the area. The multi-use trail is right in front of the resort, as is the Madawaska River, where kayaks, canoes, and all the gear, even life jackets, await your use.
This is the most eco-friendly resort I have seen, utilizing large amounts of solar power, solar hot water, and carbon-neutral, highly efficient central wood heating systems. The cottages have a real living area, a huge indoor Jacuzzi, and a wood fireplace stocked with wood in the room, and more on the front porch for your use. There is also a stocked fire pit, surrounded on three sides by a large pond for guests to freely use. It’s a very nice, very friendly place, and extra comfortable! Make sure and breeze through the gallery. We can hardly wait to go back, and we just checked out!
Things to do in Madawaska Valley
Once we were settled into our room, we had the whole afternoon to explore the area, so we drove east to the town of Barry's Bay, which we found to be very interesting, with quite different stores and shops selling very unusual merchandise of all kinds at surprisingly attractive prices. The outdoor steam train exhibit is first class, and worth a visit! Grumblin' Granny's has lots of unique products, including some teak items imported from Bali, Indonesia, that one would be hard pressed to find anywhere else!
On to the Trails
Once we returned to the Adventure Lodge, we thoroughly enjoyed our gourmet dinner that evening, then the next morning we set out on our ATV tour of the area. The Adventure Lodge is right on Haliburton ATV Club’s trail T6.4, and we headed east toward the town of Madawaska. Much of this part of the ride is on the easier side, but the scenery simply forced us to stop every few minutes and gawk at how beautiful it is!
Once we finally got to Madawaska, we rode for a bit on significantly more challenging trail south toward the town of Lake St. Peter, but decided to double back because it would have been too far for us to make the loop there, and back around to Whitney, without riding in the dark in unfamiliar territory. We should have left earlier. On the way back, we stopped at the easy-to-miss waterfalls on the Madawaska River for a break, and met a number of different and interesting people there, many who were there for a swim or a kayak to cool off.
We then took the T6.2 powerline loop that runs right up to the edge of Algonquin Park. It presented a very different sort of very dramatic scenery, with very large, wide hills that offer more challenging riding and bigger hills to climb.
The part of the trail that runs from Whitney to Madawaska is also part of the OFSC snowmobile federation's B trail, and is also part of their RAP (Round Algonquin Park) snowmobile tour that receives priority maintenance and grooming throughout the snowmobile season for a premium experience that is a "must do" at least once for most sledders! The Mad Musher Restaurant in Whitney is a stop many trail users in the area have been to; we had a hearty and delicious breakfast there.
I highly recommend the entire area to anyone who loves nature, the outdoors, and small towns with a lot to offer! We enjoyed our trip immensely, and we will certainly be back before long. Thanks again for the outstanding hospitality offered from Ken and Penny Reed, and the Adventure Lodge.