How to Plan a Backcountry Trip from Scratch - Part 1

Plan early to score an amazing spot like this at Pukaskwa National Park! Stay tuned for Part 2!

1. Look at the capabilities of your group

  • Assess whether anyone in your group needs extra accommodations or has special needs. We have a trip coming up in September and it will be a 15km hike in. One of our group members may have a medical emergency and we will be renting a satellite phone. They're pretty affordable at $12.50 per day. Plan ahead for anything that may arise unexpectedly.

  • How seasoned are your group members? Their experience level dictates which campsites are attainable. This is for everyone's safety and enjoyment. If this is a first backcountry trip I would categorize a 3-hour hike in or a 4-hour canoe paddle in (+ portage) as a beginner level. You will want to assess other factors such as elevation which I will address in Part 2.

  • Not all parks are as extreme as this, but we have backpacked in parks that have cautioned with "An experienced camper cannot be responsible for an inexperienced camper." Basically, every person must be experienced. We encountered this in parks with coastal trails that involve rock scrambling so make sure to heed these warnings if they are present.

  • I would recommend calling into the park to ask about the difficulty level of the planned route if unsure. They are great at giving pointers about which trails other hikers have difficulty with or which portages are hard for beginner campers.

2. Figure out how much time you have

  • One day [arrival] will likely be spent driving to the park, registering at the office, traveling to the site, and setting up the campsite

  • One day [departure] will be spent packing up camp, traveling back to your car, and driving home

  • Any extra days would be spent hanging out at camp, exploring the surroundings, or day hikes using your site as a base camp (my fav!)

  • We usually plan backcountry trips for 3 days and 2 nights. This would include the arrival and departure days.

3. Choose a park you want to camp at

  • We camp annually at Killarney Provincial Park and Algonquin Provincial Park so you can't go wrong choosing a site there. See related post about our Killarney PP Backcountry Trip Routes for Hwy 6 Access.

  • If you're stuck, look at how far you are willing to drive and you can figure out which parks are in your radius. Killarney PP is a 4-hour drive from Markham. Use the Ontario Parks - Park Locator and filter by Camping - Backcountry to get a map of the parks closest to you.

Stay tuned for How to Plan a Backcountry Trip from Scratch - Part 2 where we talk about scoping out good sites, how to estimate distances and more!

ontario parks locator killarney
Locator for Ontario Backcountry Camping Parks

Related Posts

How to Plan a Backcountry Trip From Scratch - Part 2 - Coming Soon!

Killarney PP Backcountry Trip Routes for Hwy 6 Access

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