Killarney Provincial Park is a must-visit location this summer. Whether you’re into hiking, birding, hanging on a beach, or taking to the water, there’s something for everyone to enjoy in the park.
Killarney is located just south of Sudbury and around 4 hours from the city. For some, that drive is a piece of cake, but for others, a few stops can make it a much more enjoyable adventure.
Here are my tips to make the most of the park (and the drive).
Where to stop en-route to Killarney
Parry Sound is a perfect halfway point to stop once you’re past the traffic of Southern Ontario. The town has tons of sights to see, including the Tower Hill Lookout, the scenic river, and the historic town centre.
Consider stopping at the Northern Perk, where you’ll find fresh local baked goods and a range of drinks overlooking the lake. Their seasonal drink, the verbena blue iced tea, is a must-try. Grab a Muskoka chair and stay a while to take in the view.
If you’re more into the brewery scene, stop at Trestle Brewery. Their huge patio overlooking the river is the perfect place to perch up and enjoy a range of snacks and beers. We learned the hard way that it’s a busy local spot, so make a reservation ahead if you can.
If you’re up for a short 20-minute detour, I highly recommend stopping in at Killbear Provincial Park as well.
Home to the famous west wind jack pine, Killbear also has a range of beaches and rocky hikes that are perfect for swimming. Consider booking a campsite and staying for a night to explore all the trails and rugged coastlines.
Where to stay in Killarney
From Parry Sound, Killarney is another two-hour drive. If you’re into camping, the George Lake campsite has a range of spacious sites and a few yurts (make sure you book early). Pro tip: if at first you can’t find anything, set alerts for your favourite campgrounds so you don’t miss out.
If you’re not into roughing it, the Killarney Mountain Lodge is another great option. Offering everything from multi-person bunk rooms to conference suites, the Lodge is located near the park in the town of Killarney.
The hikes you have to try
Killarney hikes are, in my opinion, some of the best in Ontario. They range from easy pond-side ones to multi-day 80-km options.
As a Group of Seven lover, seeing La Cloche Mountains was a must for me. I once had the opportunity to hike there with a local artist guide who told stories of his experiences painting with A.J. Casson. Since then, this park has held extra magic for me.
Once in the park, the first hike to do is The Crack. This day hike is often the busiest, so arrive early to snag parking and quieter trails. The trail is 8 km out and back through a forest and across shining white quartz rocks.
Though it has a hard rating, don’t let that deter you. The rating is more to do with the rock scrambles than the overall physical challenges, and the hike can be done in about two hours, leaving lots of time for photos and lunch at the top.
If you’re feeling adventurous, The Crack is part of the larger 80 km-long La Cloche trail that leads through the mountains and around the park.
This one can take 5 to 10 days to complete, with backcountry campsites along the way. If that sounds like too much, Lake of the Woods and Cranberry Bog are easier alternatives.
Stop in at Killarney Outfitters to find what you need for a paddling adventure. They offer a range of water vessels and can help you plan and prepare for your trip.
Paddling on George Lake will take you to many cliff spots and further along the granite ridges to portages and lakes deeper into the park.
Another favourite hike of mine is the Chikanishing Trail. A short 45-minute loop takes you along the shores of Georgian Bay. Paddling will take you further to Crown land campsites and sunbathing islands that dot the shoreline.
If you’re looking for more history of the land, consider visiting Point Grondine, Ontario’s First-Nations-owned backcountry camp. They have upcoming paddles with local Anishinaabe guides to consider this summer too.
Make Killarney Provincial Park your top destination this summer, and make sure to plan your trip to explore the park’s beauty.