In my opinion, Killarney Provincial Park is one of the most scenic parks in Ontario. In fact, I think that you would have to travel up to the north shore of Lake Superior or north end of the Bruce Trail on Georgian Bay to find scenery that is equally spectacular.
Environment: Killarney Provincial Park is located along the northeast shoreline of Georgian Bay, near the town of Killarney, accessible along Highway 637. The park features the La Cloche mountain range, which contain white quartzite stone ridges and cliffs. There are pine and hardwood forests as well as lakes that are sapphire blue in colour. At 485 square kilometres, Killarney is one of the larger parks in the Ontario Parks system, having been established in 1964. The Group of Seven scetched and painted in the park. O.S.A. (Ontario Society of Artists) Lake is one of the most picturesque lakes in the park and was named in honour of the Group of Seven. Killarney is known for having some of the best canoeing and hiking in the province.
Beach: There are two beaches at George Lake, which is where the car accessible campsites are situated. If you are backcountry camping, there are excellent swimming opportunities in deep, clear lakes with rocky shorelines throughout the park.
Camping: There are only 126 car accessible campsites at George Lake. In the summer it is very difficult to secure a campsite at George Lake because there are so few campsites. For backcountry camping, there are 140 canoe-in campsites and 33 hike-in campsites.
Canoeing: There are 11 main canoe routes in the park, which connect through a series of lakes, rivers and portages. Many of the most beautiful lakes are accessible from the George Lake campground. Canoes are available for rent at George Lake and outfitters are nearby on Highway 637. My favourite lakes are: George, Killarney, Norway, and O.S.A. Lakes. Many of the most spectacular ridges and cliffs are located in this area of the park. Killarney contains some of the most scenic canoe routes that I have seen in the province. Don’t go canoeing without a Killarney Provincial Park Canoe Guide.
Fishing: Prohibited on many lakes within the park, so check with the park office when you arrive.
Hiking: There are five hiking trails at Killarney. The La Cloche Silhouette Trail is a 100-kilometre loop that will easily take you a week to hike. This trail is accessible from the George Lake campground and there are strategies that you can use to see some of the best areas along the trail without doing the complete hike. For example, I have camped at Norway Lake, while on a canoe trip and hiked to Silver Peak, which is the highest peak in the park. From Norway Lake, it is at least a 10-hour return trip, so a day trip is probably out of the question. Most people will access this part of the park from the trail that leads to “The Crack”, which is accessible from Highway 637, seven kilometres east of the park office. The Crack is a section of the white cliffs where Silver Peak is situated and offers a magnificent view of the park. Allow four hours to do this six-kilometre trail. This trail is quite difficult as it entails climbing over large rocks. The Granite Ridge Trail is only two-kilometres and also offers a panoramic view. Purchase a copy of the park map if you plan an overnight hiking trip.
Shopping: Park stores are located at the entrance to the George Lake Campground and Bell Lake. The town of Killarney is at the end of Highway 637 and offers more shopping.
Wildlife: I have seen moose as well as other wildlife throughout the park. This area is remote, so it is an excellent place to see animals.
In Conclusion: The July-August occupancy rate for 2009 was 93%, making it the third most difficult park to get a campsite reservation at. Reserve five months in advance of your arrival to secure a campsite. You have a greater chance of getting a campsite during mid-week and in the backcountry. Spend at least four nights at Killarney, however a week would be better. No Ontario camping experience is complete without a trip to Killarney.
My Park Rating: 5 out of 5