Although spring typically comes a little later in Muskoka and Algonquin Park than it does in Toronto and other parts of Canada – thanks largely to the area’s high elevation – it’s certainly no less special.
In fact, there are those who’d argue that cottage country and Ontario’s largest provincial park do spring better than anywhere else in the country. After all, where else can you combine the thrill of moose spotting with a chance to indulge in what might well be the best-known and most-loved contribution to Canadian cuisine,maple syrup?
One of the best ways to get the most out of this splendid season is to book a getaway at Couples Resort. Located on the eastern fringes of Algonquin Park near the village of Whitney, this first-class ‘adults only’ resort offers a perfect mix of rustic luxury and nature in the heart of some of the country’s most attractive scenery.
Five star dining
Popular as Canada’s only 5 star couple’s resort, this year-round all-inclusive resort has a strict no kids policy – consequently, romance and indulgence feature high on the agenda. Just a few hours drive north of Toronto, this former fishing lodge prides itself on being the hottest hang out for couples looking for a chance to relax and reconnect while escaping everyday routines as they explore and enjoy indoor and outdoor adventures.
Notable amenities available to guests include saunas, walk-in steam rooms and in-room Jacuzzi tubs, along with wood burning fireplaces and fully screened-in decks with hot tubs. Guests can choose from a variety of accommodation options including large luxurious suites of up to 1400 sq ft, or lovely standalone cabins complete with king beds and deluxe bathrooms with double steam showerheads and bidets.
Other highlights of a stay include personalized five-course in-room gourmet dining or the chance to enjoy delicious meals in the sumptuously decorated resort dining room (no jeans or casual wear). And when you’re done playing indoors (the resort also has a full service spa), there’s plenty to do outdoors, too. Activities include on-site tennis and nature trails along with canoeing and kayaking on 11 km long Galeairy Lake as well as exploring Algonquin Park itself or taking in some trail riding on horseback.
So, what about those moose?
As much fun as hanging out at the resort is getting in some moose spotting, something that’s surprisingly easy to do if you time your visit right and plan to stay at Couples Resort between mid-April to mid-May (an added perk are the free park passes!).
Thanks to its location just minutes away from Highway 60 – the main route through Algonquin Park – you won’t have to travel far to get your fix of moose spotting. These magnificent and very large animals are drawn to the road for the salt that’s applied over the winter. With the snow and ice gone, this bounty of salt tends to pool in roadside ditches, and is something the park’s moose have come to rely on in order to compensate for their salt-deficient winter diet.
At dawn and dusk these normally shy creatures, sometimes with youngsters in tow, are usually pretty easy to spot and usually don’t scarper at the sight of approaching vehicles. In fact, a leisurely drive from the resort through the park can easily reward moose watchers with glimpses of a dozen or more of these large animals. But be warned: stay in your car unless they’re a safe distance away (you’ll know you’re too close if they flatten their ears!) and drive accordingly. As good a highway as it is, there are plenty of blind spots from which a moose might suddenly be startled and dart out.
Spring brings with it the chance to see other wildlife, too. By early April the snowmelt brings the first sightings of returning migratory birds such as loons and Canada geese. Listen carefully and you might also hear or, better still, catch a glimpse of the elusive Algonquin eastern wolf, always an exciting experience.
In addition to the area’s magnificent wildlife is its diverse flora which literally springs into life between late April and early May. Of particular interest are the select group of wildflowers known as spring ephemerals which bloom in the narrow window of time between the melting of the snow and the arrival of the park’s dense tree cover.
To learn more about the etiquette of moose spotting in Algonquin, visit The Friends of Algonquin Park’s Facebook Page for details, along with photos and news of the latest sightings.
… and the maple syrup?
Another great reason for escaping to Couples Resort is the chance to participant in the century’s old tradition of maple syrup making.
With the sap running generally between mid-March and the end of April, and with an abundance of maple trees to tap into, maple syrup manufacturing has grown in Muskoka and the area surrounding Algonquin Park into a thriving cottage industry, with numerous family run establishments catering to the sweet teeth of Ontarians as well as those from overseas (maple syrup is in fact one of Canada’s leading exports).
An easy expedition from Couples Resort is nearby McRae Family Maple Syrup. Just a few minutes drive away, the McRaes have been tapping their trees since 2011 and have since grown into full-blown maple syrup maker boasting some 200 taps and a delightful yet modern sugar shack. Everything’s made on site, with a wide variety of products available year-round. To learn more, visit their website at www.mcraefamilymaplesyrup.ca
Another good option is to pop into one or more of the businesses participating in the Muskoka Maple Trail (www.discovermuskoka.ca/things-to- do/muskoka-maple-trail) on your way to or from Couples Resort. Two of the easiest to get to are Mark’s Muskoka Maple, a maple syrup producer since 1975 that offers a fun chance to walk through the sugar bush, as well as Maple Bluff Farm that’s been around since 2004. Both are just a few minutes from Huntsville, itself a worthwhile place to break the journey.
To learn more about Couples Resort, visit their website at www.CouplesResort.ca or call them at 866-202-1179