It was thanks to the infamous Group of Seven artists that Killarney was established as a park and it remains one of the most beautiful parks in the entire province. Primarily a wilderness park; Killarney only has one campground at George Lake and is therefore a back country camping trip for most visitors.
Stunning pink granite, white ridged mountains and over fifty stunning emerald lakes make up this 645 square kilometer wilderness landscape. Perhaps that is why most visitors choose to explore this unbelievable park by canoe.
Camping amongst the fifty lakes is easily accessible by canoe and there are 183 campsites available for canoe-in visitors and an additional 33 sites for hikers. Canoeists will want to pick up a map and plan their trip ahead of time using one of the 11 popular routes. These routes range anywhere from a day to a weeklong trip and map out where to camp and the well marked portage routes. Canoes can be rented from Killarney Kanoes or Killarney Outfitters and advanced reservations are highly recommended. These two companies not only rent canoes but can set you up with all the equipment you need; as well as expert local knowledge on the canoe routes. It is important to note that the waters of Georgian Bay can be unpredictable and it is advised that you canoe close to shore.
For visitors looking to hike this stunning landscape; Killarney offers many day-use trails as well as an eighty km loop named after Franklin Carmichael’s legendary painting; La Cloche Silhouette. All of the hikes are over uneven rocky terrain and require sturdy footwear, lots of water and a packed lunch. The easiest of trails is the 2km Granite Ridge Trailthat offers spectacular lookouts over the park from the La Cloche Mountains to Phillip Edwards Island to Georgian Bay on the horizon. Keep your eyes peeled for raptors, porcupine and other small mammals that can be spotted along this trial. For the more adventurous the 6km trail The Crack takes you to the top of Killarney Ridge for one of the most stunning panoramas in the area. Hikers will need to be in great shape as they ascend through tumbled boulders using them as steps to reach the ridge.
The infamous La Cloche Silhouette Trail is a 7-10 days trek stretching eighty kilometers that takes hikers through valley bottoms, through luscious pine forests and alongside the beautiful sapphire interior lakes. There are 54 campsites along the way and hikers are required to obtain a permit and present their route before they embark on their rewarding trek.
Swimming is encouraged at any of the lakes throughout the park and there are two beaches at George Lake for day-use visitors. A dip in the O.S.A (Ontario Society of Artists) Lake is a must for any visitors as the water is so clear you can see the tropical colored stones that line the bottom as well as the many fish species that call this lake home. This fish sanctuary also ensures that no fishing is done on this lake. This lake also happens to be the reason behind why this park was saved and not logged. Another lake worth swimming in here is Acid Lake; don’t be fooled by the name this lake won’t harm you. The high Ph level does ensure that no algae grow here and it is yet another stunning clear lake. If you like to jump off rocks and cliffs, head to Bell and Three Mile Lake where a large rock in the middle of the channel offers perfect diving and jumping conditions. Make sure to check the water levels before hopping in though.
Other popular activities throughout the park include fishing, kayaking and wildlife spotting. There are over 100 different species of birds, 20 species of reptiles and amphibians and moose, deer, black bears, wolves and bobcats to be spotted. Camping at George Lake Campground is a great alternative to canoe camping; especially for families with young kids. The sites are spacious yet private and most are nestled in the rocks which make for great climbing and sunset watching. If you want something a little more glamorous; there are a total of six yurts that can be rented throughout the year. The yurts include beds, heating, electricity, a barbecue, picnic table and fire pit. At George Lake Campground there are numerous Natural Heritage Education programs that are offered throughout the summer including guided hikes, children’s programs and evening amphitheatre programs. Killarney also offers an extremely unique observatory near the George Lake Campground. The first of its kind; this free, public use observatory is outfitted with a high quality telescope and mount and is coupled with a wireless controller making it simple for first time users. Although the observatory will be used for special presentations and by the Natural Heritage Education Program the beauty of this facility how it is optimized for self-serve use.
Often called the Crown Jewel of Ontario and with its rugged peaks, overwhelming displays of color, stunning sunsets and abundance of wilderness it is easy to see why. From backcountry canoeing through endless sapphire lakes to a day of hiking, picnics and swimming; Killarney Provincial Park is the ultimate backcountry camping and canoeing destination.
Contributors: Lindsay MacNevin
Some awesome trip logs (loaded with information) from our friends
Killarney: Balsam Lake Loop – a 6 days backcountry trip log
Here is a casual weekend backcountry trip log by Iwenttheretoo blog
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