Heaven is not in West Virginia!

It's in some gorgeous lake systems in Ontario . . . moose

. . . where you can take a week to paddle, portage, swim, and rest your soul — all for a cost based on muscle and careful preparation, with very few dollars involved. And if you're really lucky, you might see a moose. And if you're not lucky, you can just go home.

I've taken four of these trips in my life, not very many when I look back on it. What I mostly wonder about now is: what happened in all those other years?

canoe approaches island at Algonquin Park aerial view of Killarney Park lake mirrors trees at Quetico Park

Algonquin Provincial Park

A huge park that starts about 3 hours north of Toronto, Algonquin features several loops of large lakes in the north, west, and south, and rivers in the east. You can do a loop that takes about a week, or paddle around a large central lake for as little as a day or two.

Killarney Provincial Park

Much smaller than Algonquin, Killarney is far more spectacular. Show above are beautiful quartzite cliffs that line many lakes; others are full of pink feldspar. Lakes and portages are shorter, but the terrain can be challenging. Water in many lakes is crystal-clear.

Quetico Provincial Park

I've not been to Quetico, but I thought this thing would look nicer if I had three parks! Quetico is more remote, but from the photos I'd say it resembles Algonquin, with a more gentle terrain than the cliffs of Killarney. Maybe I'll get there some day. Who knows — maybe you will too!

Great (and not-so-great) features of each park