Killarney 2015

This is a few months late, but too good not to share.  Marcus and I had a 5 day long weekend around Canada day so we booked a much anticipated trip to Killarney Provincial Park.  It was our first trip to this particular park, and will certainly not be our last.

Day 1: We set off at the Carlyle lake launch


And paddled to the northern tip of the lake, just before the narrows.  We found our first camp site here at the mouth to the narrows:


Our tradition is to find a “Coffee Point” on every campsite… A high vantage point spot, on which we perch to have our evening scotch and our morning coffee.  For this site, it was here:


Day 2:  We packed up camp, and continued up through the narrows, picking our way through lily pads and dragging the canoe over a beaver dam


And turned westward into Joe lake, finding some wild iris along the way:


We found a camp site on the south bank, before the lake widened:


This campsite had the perfect, eating/cook/swimming/hangout spot under a windswept white pine (my favourite kind of pine.)  Just enough breeze near the water, to keep the mosquitos at bay, but still sheltered enough to be pleasant.


We had always wanted to see an acid lake, so we canoed across the lake, after having some lunch and setting up camp, and took the 80m portage into Ruth Roy lake.  It was beautiful but not as clear as we were expecting.  It’s possible this lake is starting to come back to life.



Day 3: Was a little windier.  We had a reasonable paddle across a choppy Johnnie lake, and made or way up to the 795m portage to Clearsilver lake.  The portage is not too bad as far as portages go.  Reasonably even ground.  We crossed Clearsilver lake, and beached at the portage to Bell lake.  Here, we stashed our canoe, and walked off the portage, before turning off onto the Silver Peak trail.  We knew it was a hard climb, but we were not prepared for how out of shape we’ve become.  This is one of those trails that I didn’t think we would finish, but it was worth it when we go to the top.

At times it was hard to believe it really was a trail, and not just a steep incline of strewn boulders.


The little red markers occasionally encouraged us by letting us know we were still on the trail.


Half way up we took a break, to drink some water and check on our progress so far.


The part after this was the most grueling.  Especially the end, was nearly a vertical climb.  However… as I said… completely worth, every step.  You could see over 100km away to Sudbury! And look down on all the lakes we had just crossed.



The climb down was almost as hard, trying to pick our way through the boulders.  All in all the trail took us 3.5 hrs from the start of the portage.  It let us know how out of shape we were, and how badly we need to do this more often.  Not to get in better shape, but to give ourselves this mental reprieve from the outside world.  Despite the hardship it really was the most significant enjoyment of our summer, to be alone with the Canadian shield and exploring it on foot or by paddle.

We headed back to our campsite on Johnnie lake.  Water was choppier than we like, but we’ve seen worse.  We were quite happy to finally see the calm waters of the narrow lake around our campsite, and settle in for a swim, some scotch and lots of food.  Lesson learned = 1 mickey of scotch is not enough for 2 people on a 5 day trip.  We rationed our scotch and used a knife to mark  on the bottle, how much we could drink each night:)

Oh and this site, boasted the best “Coffee Point” of them all.  That spit you see in the water below, is where we had all our  meals, coffees, and scotches.  There is nothing like being completely surrounded by lake while you consume something you love.


Day 4:  Next morning, we packed up and headed back the way we came in, down Johnnie.


Saw some nice wild Kalmia (Mountain Laurel):


My personal obsession… brave old conifers, stoically growing from cracks.  If I could visit him every day, I would.


Back into the shallows and the narrows, leading to Carlyle lake.


Picking our way through waterlily trails like this one:


And back over the beaver dam.  Although we had to line up and wait for the heron to finish his business there.


Another favourite thing of mine….. watching the pattern of the water current in the grasses under the lilies:


And all the way across a slightly windy Carlyle lake… finding that every site was occupied, except the last site at the bottom of the lake.  We reached it in good time though, and setup camp early enough to canoe back to a remote rock in the lake, to go for a swim and have a stick-fire cup of coffee.  Evening calmed the lake down significantly:


Our last fire of the journey:


And then woke up to a morning of glass and reflection:





And we will be going back the second we can 🙂


  1. Love your visit to Killarney and seeing the beautiful photos. I was there as a child. We stayed at the main campsite and we were allowed to bring a motor boat so we were waterskiing there.

    I do remember how clear the main lake was. It was very deep and you could see the bottom. There was a place near that we hiked to that had the cliff rocks that the kids were jumping and diving off. I also remember that we were able to get to another lake by boat where we hiked to the top of the mountain and we could see Georgian Bay, and we picked some wild blueberries up there too. The place was a wonderful memory.

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