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Killarney Provincial Park
 
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Killarney Provincial Park Canada's most famous painters, The Group of Seven, are said to have been responsible for the creation of Killarney. Three of the group painted extensively in the park and brought the area to prominence. Once you visit, you quickly understand their passion. This is an enchanted region, with bright white quartzite hills contrasted sharply by wind swept green pines, red granite shorelines and the emerald waters of Georgian Bay. While culture and natural beauty are reason enough to visit the park, the range of exceptional outdoor activities add markedly to the draw. Canoe routes abound, ranging from easy lake paddles to extensive trips through the parks heartland. Backpackers are presented with one of Canada's best trails in the form of the La Cloche Silhouette. This difficult path provides access to the best of the park.

 
 
 

Taking seven to ten days to complete there are dozens of lakeside campsites on route. Day hikers can do an out and back to get a taste of the trail. Hikers have several other options available as well in and around George Lake. Kayakers can take day trips along the parks shores or just outside the town of Killarney. For extended paddles the Fox Islands and Phillip Edward Island are the most popular destinations. For the experts, Killarney can be used as a launch point for extended paddles along the coast to through the 30,000 islands of the bay.

 
 
  Winter Cabin   Winter is a wonderful time to experience the park without the crowds. Winter camping is available and many trails are open to cross country skiers. Snowshoers are not forgotten with the Collins Inlet trail designated for their use. For those with a yen for nature but that want a little more comfort, the park has yurts available for rent (two nights minimum).  
 

Camping

Front Country Camping - George Lake has the only front country camping in the park. It is close to the front gate and is only a short drive from the waters of Georgian Bay. It has126 campsites, flush toilets and a laundromat. George Lake has great swimming and there are a number of trails leading from the campground for hiking. The park has is a boat launch.

 

 
  Winter Cabin   Backcountry Camping - There are 180 backcountry campsites in the interior of the park for backpackers and canoe trippers. You must camp at the designated sites. The camping sites are indicated by a diamond shaped orange marker with a tent symbol. There is a can and bottle ban in the interior of the park, during both the winter and summer months.  
 

Winter Camping

For those with the skills and equipment, winter camping is available in the campground and in the interior. A warming hut with a wood stove is available in the George Lake Campground. If you plan to camp in the parks' interior you must file a trip plan. The summer sites are not to be used in winter. Consult the park for details on where to camp. Do not travel over lakes or creeks and keep in mind that temperatures can drop below -30 C. The parks topology is surprisingly confusing and it's easy to get disoriented.

Note: The park has a can and bottle ban in the interior which is enforced all year long.

Cabins, Yurts and Lodges

The park has two yurts available for rent. There is a minimum of two days and they must be reserved (actually reserve early since they are very popular particularly with skiers and snowshoers). Contact the park for details.

 

Mountain Biking and Cycling

Mountain biking is not allowed on the park trails but you can bike on the park roads. A couple of suggestions from the park are Johnnie Lake Road, Bell Lake Road & Chikanishing Road.

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Hiking

The following are brief descriptions of three self-guided trails in the park that lead from the George Lake campground.

The Cranberry Bog is a moderately easy 4km loop that takes about 2 1/2 hours to complete and leads you through bog, marsh and swamp, with plenty of beautiful plant life and birds for your appreciation.

The Chikanishing Trail starts at the end of the Chikanishing Road and is a moderately easy 3km loop with a lot of ups and downs over granite outcroppings. It leads you to Collins Inlet on Georgian Bay. The Chikanishing trail should take about 1 1/2 hours to complete.

The Granite Ridge is a moderately easy 2km loop that is steep in sections. The trail takes you to two lookouts with views of the park and out to Georgian Bay.

Other hikes are the East Lighthouse/Tar Vat Trail that begins right behind the parking area at Killarney's East Lighthouse. There are also two trails that follow parts of the La Cloche Trail, one a 14km trail that starts at the George Lake Dam and the other a 20 km trail that starts from Blue Heron Circle parking lot. The parks topology is surprisingly confusing and it's easy to get disoriented.

Note: Killarney's trails are often rocky and the rock becomes very slippery if it rains (or snows for that matter). Check the forcast before you set out and consult with the park for details on your hike.

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Snowshoeing

If you have the skills and equipment you can break your own trail anywhere in the park. Some of the parks trails are not suitable for snowshoing since they climb and descend steeply and are just too exposed. The Collins Bay Inlet trail is packed and accessible to snowshoers.

The park has yurts and cabins which can be used for overnight stays by skiers or snowshoers in the winter. Contact the park for details. Do not travel over lakes or creeks and keep in mind that temperatures can drop below -30 C. The parks topology is surprisingly confusing and it's easy to get disoriented. Note: The park has a can and bottle ban in the interior which is enforced all year long.

 

Sea Kayaking

There are never ending possibilities for kayaking in this area. One possibility is the archipelago east of the park, between it's shores and Manitoulin Island. The area is made up of endless inlets and islands and has great potential as a prime destination but is difficult to access. The second area is south of the park, in and around Phillip Edward Island and out to the Fox Islands. There are thousands of small islands in the vicinity and the area is a standout when it comes to beauty. Sea kayaking in the park is certainly not as well developed as it might be given the areas potential. Before choosing your route, you should consult with the park and the local outfitters for more information.


Note: Georgian Bay/Lake Huron is essentially an inland sea where the weather can turn in very short order. Ocean kayaking skills are essential, navigation skills, charts, compass and a weather radio are essential. if you aren't a seasoned kayaker, please contact an outfitter or guide in the area. Remember these lakes are scattered with the remains of large ships and freighters.Note: The park has a can and bottle ban in the interior which is enforced all year long.

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Cross Country Skiing

There are approximately 33km of cross country trails in the park most of which are regularly groomed.

Freeland Trail - 11.5km (return), Easy, Linear The trail is relatively flat with some rolling sections to keep it interesting. The trail travels from the the Bobcat section of the campground, to it's end point just to the east of Freehand Lake.

Chikanishing Trail - 6km (return), Easy Following along the creek of the same name before heading out along Chikanising Road. This is a picturesque trail suitable to beginners.

Collins Inlet Trail - 14km (return), Easy/Moderate, Linear

The park has yurts and cabins which can be used for overnight stays by skiers or snowshoers in the winter. Contact the park for details. Do not travel over lakes or creeks and keep in mind that temperatures can drop below -30 C. The parks topology is surprisingly confusing and it's easy to get disoriented. Note: The park has a can and bottle ban in the interior which is enforced all year long.

 

Backpacking

La Cloche Silhouette Trial - Located in the heart of Killarney, the La Cloche Silhouette Trail is a seven to ten day hike of approximately 100 km. The trail takes you through some of the most spectacular scenery in Ontario. It includes wetlands and forested sections, as well as ridge hiking along the La Cloche Mountains. The ridge hikes are particularly scenic, providing wonderful overlooks on the park. There are 180 backcountry campsites available along the trail. Many of the campsites along the way are located lakeside and are shared by canoeists. This is a tough backpack and you should be in shape if you intend to complete the whole thing. There are two trial heads with parking, one at George Lake Dam in the west, the second at Blue Heron Circle in the east. There are black bears in and around Killarney Provincial Park. You can pick up a bear awareness pamphlet at the park office. A trail map can be purchased from the Friends of Killarney Park. Caution should be taken on the ridges in storms, because of the footing on the slick rocks and the heightened exposure to lightning strikes. Map and compass skills are essential, particularly if you do any off trail hiking, planned or otherwise. The parks topology is surprisingly confusing and it's easy to get disoriented. Backcountry permits are mandatory and have a cost attached to them. Backcountry reservations (and front country, if applicable) should be made as early as possible, as the route is becoming more and more popular. Avoid the peak seasons at the end of July, the month of August as well as long weekends in the summer. Be aware the park has a can and bottle ban in the interior which is enforced all year long.

Note: The La Cloche trail is rocky and the rock becomes very slippery if it rains (or snows for that matter). In addition many sections are very steep adding to the footing problem. Check the forcast before you set out and consult with the park for details on your trip.

 

Canoeing

The park has a number of canoe routes that can get you deep into the parks beautiful interior. The routes vary from a weekend paddle to almost two weeks of travel, depending on your pace. Alas the interior canoe routes invariably include portages. Depending on the route, portages may be several kilometers long include some with significant elevation gain. Choose a route that matches your skills and physical condition. Contact the park for details.

The routes are as follows:

  • Bell Lake-Baie Fine Loop - Bell Lake Access, 6-7 Days
  • Bell David Lake Loop - Bell Lake Access, 2 Days
  • Bell- Threenarrows Lake Loop - Bell Lake Access, 4-5 Days
  • Carlyle-Killarney Lake Loop - Carlyle/Johnnie Lake Access, 2 Days
  • Charlton-Cat Lake Loop - Charlton Lake Access, 4 Days
  • Charlton-Great Mountain Lake Loop - Charlton Lake Access, 7-8 Days
  • George - Norway Lake Loop - George Lake Access, 2-3 Days
  • George Lake to Baie Fine - George Lake Access, 3 Days
  • George Threenarrows Lake Loop - George Lake Access, 4 Days
  • Nellie Lake Loop - Charlton Lake Access, 2-3 Days
  • North Boundary Loop - George Lake Access, 9-10 Days

All of these routes are documented and described in detail in "Killarney Provincial Park Canoe Guide" which also includes small maps of the routes. The guide is available from the Friends of Killarney Provincial Park. Note: The park has a can and bottle ban in the interior which is enforced all year long.

Nature

The park is home to Skunks, Raccoons, Moose, Deer, Ferrets, Fox, Wolves, Bobcats and of course Black Bears. If you look up you just might catch a glimpse of some Hawks and Osprey working the thermals along the cliffs. Loons and Blue Heron's are often spotted on the parks lakes. Acid rain has unfortunately done considerable damage to the parks lakes. The transparent waters of the many lakes are awe inspiring, until you realize the origins of this condition. Fortunately the lakes are making a slow recovery due to the tireless work of concerned groups and individuals - contact the Friends of Killarney Park to see how you can help.

 

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Interactive Map of Killarney Provincial Park

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Paddling Killarney Park
 
 

Resources

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Getting There

Killarney is located in north eastern Ontario south east of the city of Sudbury and just to the north east of Manitoulin island on the shores of Georgian Bay. From Toronto take Highway 400 north to the 11 then take the 69 heading towards Sudbury. About about 40km south of Sudbury, turn onto Highway 637 which heads west into Killarney. From the north take the Trans Canada, Highway 17 to Sudbury then head south on the 69 to pick up the 637. It takes about 7 to 8 hours driving from Toronto and 10 to 11 from Ottawa.

 
 

Resources

 

Surrounding Regions

Park Weather - From the Weather Network

Out-There's Ontario
Ontario Tourism - Official Site

 

Related Links

 

Links of Interest

Canadian Geographic
Conde Nast Traveler

Islands Magazine
National Geographic
National Geographic Adventure
National Geographic Traveler
Outside Magazine
Sunset Magazine
Travel and Leisure Magazine
Wavelength Magazine

 

Surrounding Regions

Out-There's Ottawa
Out-There's Eastern Ontario
Out-There's Central Ontario North
Out-There's Ontario

 

Out-There's Destinations

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Killarney Provincial Park

Killarney, Ontario
P0M 2A0
Ontario Parks

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