When my son and I reached the wave-washed point on Georgian Bay at Killarney Provincial Park, Ontario after hiking for 2 hours, our jaws dropped at the breathtaking scenery in front of us.
We took time to take in all the scenery and talked about the Georgian Bay as containing the world’s largest fresh water archipelago as part of the UNESCO’s Georgian Bay Biosphere. Admittedly, no picture can do justice to the beauty of the landscape at this point.
We had reached the spot after 2 hours of moderately difficult hike over the rocky outcrops and roots of the trees that tested our ankles on Chikanishing Trail.
In the honour of our furry friend K2 (February 13, 2011 – May 12, 2022), who would have been with us during this trip, my family, consisting of four adults and a 6 years old, visited 4 provincial parks, including, Killarney in June 2022.
We observed 4 of the several eco-systems of Killarney. The ones we experienced were:
- Pre-Cambrian rocks of the Canadian shield;
- Pine and hardwood forests and the boggy lowlands that surround the park’s many lakes;
- George Lake; and
- La Cloche Mountains: With an estimated age of 1.88 billion years, the La Cloche Mountains consist of metamorphosed quartz sandstone, which accumulated and was deposited in the Georgian Bay region of Ontario 2.5 billion years ago.
Killarney is an iconic 645 square kilometre wilderness landscape showcasing the wild Georgian Bay Coast of pink granite; the La Cloche Mountains’ white quartzite ridges and over 50 exceptionally clear, sapphire lakes set among Jack Pine hills. It enjoys IUCN category of a ‘National Park’ (US national parks of similar size: Rocky Mountains, Shenandoah, and Zion). One can enjoy biking, birding, boating (in the Georgian Bay only), canoeing and kayaking, fishing, hiking, swimming, wildlife viewing, and cross-country skiing (in winters).
The area has long captivated artists including The Group of Seven’s A.Y. Jackson, Franklin Carmichael and A.J. Casson, so much so, that they persuaded the Ontario government to make it a park.
Hiking the Chikanishing Trail
All five of us started the hike on Chikanishing Trail, but only my son and I were able to complete this 3 km long moderately difficult trail.
The trail meandered along the park’s southern boundary and crossed a series of small ridges and ending at a wave-washed point on Georgian Bay. Vegetation was typical of the rocky, windswept terrain of Georgian Bay. We noticed that taller pine trees, my favorites, oaks, and even flowering plants flourished in spots that provided shelter from the wind and where soil accumulated.
Interpretive plaques told the colourful history of this part of Georgian Bay.
The rocky outcrops were not difficult to negotiate, but they did take some toll on our ankles.
Hiking the Granite Ridge Trail
My son and I hiked on a moderately difficult 2 km long Granite Ridge Trail that required hiking carefully on granite rock outcrops.
The trail provided views of the unique La Cloche Mountains for which Killarney is renowned. The trail snaked through old fields and forests and climbed to a ridge with two lookouts over the park. To the south, our eyes moved along the shore from Collin’s Inlet and Philip Edward Island to the expanse of Georgian Bay.
To the north, we saw the spectacular La Cloche Mountains (see below). Unfortunately, because of shortage of time, we could not hike on The Crack that takes one to the top of the mountains.
A playful exploration of George Lake Beach
Six years old Zakariya played in the sand, while the rest took a rest as I continued taking shots of the landscape.
Because it was early June, canoes were not out yet. I believe canoeing in George Lake would be a great way to explore the ecosystems in and around George Lake.
We were able to enjoy the picturesque views around the lake, nevertheless.
I had set up my camping site perfectly with camping spice and condiment set at Grundy Lake Provincial Park, but they were nowhere to be found the very next day.
The mystery was solved when Zakariya decided to play a game of water-gunning the opponents, which meant me taking the brunt of his gunmanship. I noticed that he was using my camping spice and condiment set meant for storing sauces, ketchup, mustard, etc., admittedly, after doing a perfect cleaning job on them. Since my admonishing was not working, I gave up and resorted to playing several rounds of western duel using makeshift water guns.
Flora and Fauna
It is in this park that we had a full glimpse of a beautiful, but startled, black bear. Unfortunately, we were not able to take a shot. During our hike on the Chikanishing Trail, we saw the droppings of a porcupine (see the picture on the left). However, it was the sight of my favorites – the Eastern White Pines, which kept me in awe.
Other than the black bears and porcupines, the park is home to moose, deer, wolves, lynx, bobcats, martens and beavers, along with over 20 species of reptiles and amphibians. Over 100 species of birds breed, nest or rest within park boundaries.
The park lies within the Eastern forest-boreal, transition ecoregion. There is a wide variety of plant life, which includes eastern white pines, eastern white cedars, spruce, balsam, etc.
Where to stay
There are a number of front and back country camping sights. Several camping sites have electricity. However, we drove a rented Deluxe Van Camper from Canadream from Grundy Lake Provincial Park, where we were camping. It may be noted that we were only using our RV for resting during the hikes and other adventures.
And finally, Remembering K2, our Hungarian Kuvasz
Brantwood Mount Godwin Austen ‘K2’ (February 13, 2011 – May 12, 2022) –
Our companion, guard dog, a hiking buddy, who traveled with us to many national, provincial, and conservation parks passed away. It seems like a part of us left with him.