The historic village of Killarney welcomes over 100,000 visitors each year, and it is no surprise why. With its magnificent landscapes that inspired the Group of Seven artists, the spectacular provincial park is considered the ‘Jewel of the Ontario Parks system’. With the oldest community on the North Shore covering just over 1500 square-km of rugged Canadian shield and the provincial park covering an additional 645 square-km, this area offers a unique opportunity for all kinds of visitors and activities. These might include avid kayakers and canoers, both drive-in and back country camping, boating, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, fantastic hiking trails, and more. The village of Killarney is located just 10 km from Killarney Provincial Park and offers a variety of lodging and great food for all tastes.
Here are the top five activities to experience in Killarney
— HIKE THE KILLARNEY LIGHTHOUSE TRAIL —
This Lighthouse Trail begins on the east side of the entrance to Killarney Mountain Lodge. The hike itself is about 5km round trip and is not a loop so you will be returning on the same path you hiked out on. This hike provides hikers with an unforgettable view of open water Georgian Bay and its rugged pink granite shoreline. The trail winds you through a mixed forest of pine, red maple and spruce. Once you reach the base of Mount East you are only a short climb to the top to the scenic view of the bay and far off islands. As you continue down the path you will get a chance to view the coves created by the last ice age and the iconic lighthouse located on the point of Killarney. Once you reach the lighthouse you are treated with a breathtaking view of the north shore of Georgian Bay. This lighthouse dates back to 1866 where Killarney residents operated the lighthouse each night and they did so until 1980 when the lighthouse became fully automated.
If you are in a rush and do not have 2-3 hours to do the hike, you can also drive in most of the way to the lighthouse – leaving you with only a quick climb up the rocks to see the lighthouse and viewpoints. To get here, you travel East along Ontario Street until you reach the end of the road – take your time as the road is in rough shape and can be slippery if there has been a recent rain fall. Make sure to watch for hikers travelling along the side of the road.
— HIKE THE CRACK TRAIL —
The Crack Trail begins 7km outside the provincial park in a small parking lot that is marked by a small sign with two diamonds. The Crack is the most difficult hike in the area and is a 6km round trip with suggested time of 3-4 hours to complete. This is not a looped trail as if you continue going past the crack itself you will end up on a 7-10 day hiking trail through the La Cloche Mountains. This hike starts off on an old logging road that is level and easily navigated for 1.5km until joining up with La Cloche Silhouette Trail at which point becomes much more rugged.
Beyond Kakakaise Lake, the trail becomes incredibly steep and more rugged as the forest starts to disappear and gives way to the exposed quartzite outcrops and cliffs that dominate the area. Once you reach the top, you will experience the iconic Killarney views of the glacial lakes shimmering under the blue skys framed by the La Cloche Mountains and age old pine forests. This is a place you do not want to forget your camera – this will be a view you won’t want to forget.
— Relax in the Killarney Mountain Lodge Carousel Lounge —
The Killarney Mountain Lodge recently upgraded their already beautiful lodge and made this unique octogonal lounge into a chic place to stop in for a drink and appetizer. Between the comfy couches, the panoramic view of the marina and the great service, make sure you stop in for a cocktail. The extensive food and drink menu allows for a full sit down dinner or a quick drink or bite before heading off on your next adventure. None the less, make sure to stop in at the Mountain Lodge as it is a staple in the village of Killarney.
— SPEND A NIGHT IN KILLARNEY PROVINCIAL PARK —
Killarney Provincial Park is the crown jewel on the Ontario Parks and it is a must see if you are making the trek into this area. The dramatic landscapes inspired the Group of Seven to paint many beautiful paintings of the surrounding area. With only 126 drive in campsites, make sure to book your reservations well ahead of time. The park is one of Ontarios most popular wilderness destinations, and its limited facilities offer visitors a chance to experience the solitude and beauty of this undisturbed natural setting. The park is an outdoor enthusiasts playground with spectacular hiking trails, beautiful clear lakes to canoe or kayak on, wildlife watching, star gazing and so much more. Killarney sees over 100,000 overnight visitors a year with an additional 40,000+ day visitors to the park each year, and when you get a chance to visit you will understand why this one of a kind park is such a special place in Ontario.
— GO ON A KAYAK OR CANOE TRIP —
One of the most popular activities to do in Killarney Provincial Park besides hiking is canoing or kayaking. The park offers numerous canoe routes that give you access to areas of the park interior that you can only reach by water. The routes vary from a weekend paddle to up to two weeks, depending on your pace. The interior canoe routes include portages which can be several kilometers long with often significant elevation gain. Before you head out, make sure you choose a route that matches your skill set and objectives for the trip. Here is a list of the routes that are available:
- Bell David Lake Loop (2 Days)
- Carlyle-Killarney Lake Loop (2 Days)
- George – Norway Lake Loop (2-3 Days)
- Nellie Lake Loop (2-3 Days)
- George Lake to Baie Fine (3 Days)
- Charlton-Cat Lake Loop (4 Day)
- George Threenarrows Lake Loop (4 Days)
- Bell-Threenarrows Lake Loop (4-5 Days)
- Bell Lake-Baie Fine Loop (6-7 Days)
- Charlton-Great Mountain Lake Loop (7-8 Days)
- North Boundary Loop (9-10 Days)
All of these routes are well laid out and described in detail in the Killarney Provincial Park Canoe Guide which includes maps. Often on these routes you will find yourself on your own with nature and for that reason it is truly is a wilderness park that makes it one of the most popular canoeing and kayaking destinations in Ontario.