Killarney Provincial Park – Most Scenic Park in Ontario?

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.

O.S.A. Lake

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.

Entering Killarney Lake

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.

Looking West to Georgian Bay from Silver Peak

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

Resources: For camping information and tips, see: The Camp Tripper. For camping gear, see:


About Patrick Dzieciol

I have authored and published "The Camp Tripper - The Secrets of Successful Family Camping in Ontario" If you want to get in touch with me, please drop me an email at:
This entry was posted in Beach, Camping, Canoeing, Georgian Bay, Hiking, Killarney, Ontario, Outdoor, Park, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Killarney Provincial Park – Most Scenic Park in Ontario?

  1. Dave Bailey says:

    Fishing: The park office has a sheet which lists which species are in which lakes, and which lakes are closed to fishing. If you don’t want to travel then George Lake is excellent for smallmouth bass, drop-shotting over rock falls can produce fish in the 5lb range.

  2. Elaine Vegas says:

    Visited Killarney based on your recommendation. It was absolutely beautiful – awe-inspiring views (although Tobermory’s Grotto area rivals it in beauty). Overall, I think I much prefer Killarney for it’s rugged, wild feel. We were camping in Grundy Lake and made the 1.5 hour drive to Killarney. The campground looked really nice – many little loops with only 2-5 sites which looked to be wonderful if camping with 2-3 other families. My 12 yr old daughter and I hiked “The Crack”. Took us 1.5 hours to hike up and 1 hr 10 minutes brisk hike back. We have only done mostly easy-moderate trails and this was our toughest hike so far – it was a blast to do for someone with moderate skill level and was such an accomplishment to make it to the top! Our favorite hike to date and has given us the confidence to continue seeking out other more challenging hikes.

    Considering coming back to car camp next year – still trying to figure out if canoeing here will work for us. We are fairly inexperienced canoeists, used to canoeing only on calm, quiet lakes and rivers (e.g. I ruled out canoeing in Killbear based on reports I have read). My husband does not want to do any portaging, which limits us. That said, I love to canoe for 3-4 hours at a time and because we love the feeling of exploring, prefer to explore a river/chain of lakes that are suitable for daytripping. I have a feeling we will cover the “easy” canoe routes pretty quickly and run out of places to explore. Any advice from folks familiar with Killarney?

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