Camping amidst the quartzite hills of Killarney Provincial Park is an exceptional experience whether car camping in George Lake Campground or exploring its extraordinary backcountry. George Lake Campground is a quiet, family-oriented spot with many campers who are keen nature-lovers. In winter the campground attracts cross-country skiers and snowshoers. The park’s yurt accommodation provides a very comfortable alternative to tent or trailer camping.
There are many spectacular sites in Killarney’s backcountry. On the south side of the park access is via Bell Lake, Johnnie Lake, Carlyle Lake and George Lake and Chikanishing Creek provides access to Georgian Bay. The new Killarney Lakelands and Headwaters area is easily accessed via Willisville (south of Espanola).
Park staff will provide year-round assistance with trip planning. Campers who wish to reserve sites between May and Thanksgiving must call the Ontario Parks reservation call centre at 1-888-668-7275.
George Lake Campground is open for camping all year. The main gates are closed during the snowy season and the campground and yurts become “walk in” from approximately the end of November to the beginning of May.
Campground campsites can be booked online or by phoning 1-888-668-7275. There are no reservations available from Thanksgiving to April.
Campground “D” – sites #82 to #113 including the East Beach are radio-free.
There are 183 backcountry canoe-in sites and 33 backcountry hike-in sites. Winter camping in the backcountry is available, however camping on existing summer campsites is prohibited. This is to protect the campsites from negative impacts that winter camping can cause. Winter campsites should be 30 metres from the shoreline of lakes, portages and trails. Sheltered areas near small bays and smaller interior lakes are recommended for winter campsites.
Killarney’s six yurts are located in the George Lake Campground in their own site away from other campers. A short walk of 70m to 200m will take you to your accommodation. Parking is available nearby but not on the yurt site. A wagon is available to transport your gear to the yurt. Vault privies are located very close to the yurts and a comfort station is a short distance away.
Each yurt sleep six people on two sets of bunk beds; each a double lower mattress and twin upper mattress. Inside, your yurt has lighting, electric heat and a power outlet.
Outside you will find a propane barbecue, two picnic tables and a fire pit. Yurts 3, 4, 5, and 6 also have an outdoor dining area with roof. A metal bear proof food storage locker is available at each yurt.
Campers should bring their own bedding, cookstove, cookware, dishes, food and other personal items.
Winter campers should note that the campground gates are locked and access to the yurt is by ski/snowshoe only – a distance of approximately 500m from the main park office to the six yurt sites. One toboggan is available to help move your gear. The comfort station is closed from Thanksgiving until Victoria Day weekend. Potable water, sinks and flush toilets are available in the heated bathrooms that are attached to the main park office.
If you arrive after office hours or on days when staff are not available, an incoming yurt reservation package will be left for you in the Self Serve Reservation Kiosk.
Please note that domestic animals (pets) are not permitted in the yurt or on site and smoking is prohibited in all facilities. Cooking in yurts is not permitted.
Parking for one vehicle is included in your rental fee.
Yurts can be reserved through Ontario Parks’ reservation system.
Let our enthusiastic Natural Heritage Education staff introduce you to this special region during regularly scheduled day and evening programs. The park is in the transition zone between the Northern Boreal Forest region and the St. Lawrence-Great Lake lowlands, so there is a wide variety of plant and wildlife within its boundaries. Some species, like Black Cherry and American Beech are rarely found this far north. More than 100 species of birds breed in the park. The park’s cultural heritage is not limited to famous painters, the use and enjoyment of the area goes back thousands of years as archaeologists have uncovered evidence of three prehistoric encampments, from 9,000, 6,500 and 1,500 years ago along shorelines of ancient meltwater lakes.
Explore the park’s backcountry via six hiking trails ranging from 2 to 80 km. This paddling paradise offers traditional canoe-tripping experiences amidst the many lakes as well as big water kayaking on Georgian Bay. Looking for some new routes to discover? Consider paddling in the new Killarney Lakelands and Headwaters Provincial Park, a natural environment class provincial park, on Killarney’s northern boundary and part of the backcountry management.
Winter excursions are growing in popularity from snowshoe hikes based at one of the yurts in George Lake Campground to a backcountry cross-country ski trip to commemorate Family Day. Or you can simply stay in the campground and participate in the events organized by the Friends of Killarney Provincial Park – it’s an excellent time of year to discover the park.
This year, be sure to participate in guided excursions of the exceptionally dark night sky at the Killarney observatory! During summer months staff and volunteer experts offer their expertise as they explore the “galactic backcountry”!
Don’t let the famous painters intimidate you! Each year an “artist in residence” offers special art lessons to visitors – they’ll help you develop your own artistic vision of the park!
All Killarney’s hiking trails cover uneven and rocky terrain. Sturdy footwear, plenty of water and a park map and compass is recommended. Killarney Provincial Park offers five day-use hiking trails plus may other hiking opportunities.
Chikanishing Trail 3 km (1.5 hours) moderate
This trail winds along the park’s southern boundary and crosses a series of small ridges and then ending at a wave-washed point on Georgian Bay. Vegetation is typical of the rocky, windswept terrain of Georgian Bay, though taller pine and oak have flourished in wind-sheltered spots where soil has accumulated. Old iron rings used for mooring lines during logging days can still be seen along the trail. Interpretive plaques tell the colourful history of this part of Georgian Bay.
Cranberry Bog Trail 4 km (2.5 hours) moderate
Hikers along the trail pass some of the park’s loveliest scenery. Bogs, marshes and swamps are home to Sundew, Leatherleaf, Pitcher Plant and Cranberry. Beaver feed piles can be seen along the way. Many birds frequent this trail’s habitats and Blanding’s Turtles make an occasional appearance in Cranberry Bog. Look for evidence of glaciation—smooth rock surfaces, striations and chatter marks.
Granite Ridge Trail 2 km (1 hour) moderate
Providing views of the unique La Cloche Mountains for which Killarney is renowned the trail winds through old fields and forests and climbs to a ridge with two lookouts over the park. To the south, your eye moves along the shore from Collin’s Inlet and Philip Edward Island to the expanse of Georgian Bay. To the north, see the spectacular La Cloche Mountains.
Lake of The Woods Trail 3.5 km (3 hour) moderate to difficult
This loop trail encircles Lake of the Woods, traveling through a variety of forest types, from old growth stands to elevated rocky outcrops. These outcrops offer excellent views of Silver Peak, six kilometres to the west and Lake of the Woods below. At one point, the trail descends to the lakeshore where a short boardwalk connects to the lake’s only island.
The Crack 6 km (4 hour), difficult
The view from the top of Killarney Ridge is absolutely stunning. The immense white cliffs of the La Cloche Mountains surround you as you ascend through the cascade of huge tumbled boulders of what is known as"The Crack”. Once you reach the top of the ridge, you’ll be treated to beautiful panoramic vistas on all sides – certainly one of the best views in the park!
Note: Do not try to reach the Crack unless you are in good shape and can get an early start.
La Cloche Silhouette Trail 80 km loop (7-10 days) strenuous
Although this trail takes up to 10 days to do in its entirety, hikers can take shorter trips starting from two trailheads in George Lake Campground. (Day hikers should leave sufficient time to retrace their steps along the trail back to the campground.)
The west section of this trail is moderate, heading to Acid and Lumsden lakes over rolling forested hills. It crosses small streams and rivers, occasionally following the rocky shores of small lakes. Keep on the lookout for wildlife or clues of their presence.
The east section of this trail heads uphill to the Crack, a ridge with a vista of rugged and scenic landscapes. Considered strenuous, this section passes through forests and wetlands and over rocky ridges. It takes 12 hours of steady hiking and you have to climb over large boulders to reach the top of the ridge. Do not try to reach the Crack unless you are in good shape and can get an early start.
With just under 645 square kilometres of backcountry wilderness and 183 campsites situated on over 50 lakes, Killarney offers numerous canoe routes that can be explored for only a day or for over a week. The deep clear lakes, nestled between the impressive white hills of the La Cloche range, are a canoeist’s dream.
Pick up a guide and a map detailing 11 of the more popular canoe routes and backcountry campsites in the park.
Swim at two beaches in the campground or in any of the interior lakes and rivers.
Only canoeing and kayaking is permitted on the interior lakes. There is a boat launch at the Chikanishing Access Point for kayak and boat access to Georgian Bay.
Many of Killarney’s lakes are fish sanctuaries. However, limited fishing opportunities are available in the park’s eastern and northern sections.
Biking is available on park roads and the bike trail along the Chikanishing Creek to the Chikanishing Access Point.
Natural Heritage Education programs are offered during July and August at the George Lake Campground. Programs are varied, ranging from guided hikes, children’s programs, evening amphitheatre programs, art-in-the-park and artist-in-residence programs. The park also boasts a small observatory and hosts guest astronomers throughout the summer.
The park contains a wide variety of habitats for forest songbirds, birds of prey and waterfowl. The park hosts a Christmas bird count, as well as spring and summer Loon counts. Park Naturalists can direct birders to good locations and can help to identify the birds you’ve seen.
Hunting is prohibited in the vast majority of Killarney Provincial Park. Hunting IS permitted in Killarney Lakelands and Headwaters Provincial Park and in Killarney Provincial Park 2006 additions ONLY. Nature reserve zones are excluded.
Killarney is primarily a backcountry park with a network of maintained portages, hiking trails and campsites. George Lake Campground offers full amenities with a comfort station and two Park Outpost stores offer an excellent selection of maps and gifts. Area outfitters rent canoes and gear.
Winter facilities and services are available but are limited in the park.
Nearby, the Town of Killarney offers many amenities, Make sure you stop by Herbert Fisheries - Fish and Chips for their fresh caught Lake Huron Whitefish and famous fish and chips!
A comfort station (complete with showers and flush toilets) is located in the George Lake campground. During the winter camping season this comfort station is closed.
Flush toilets are found in various locations at the George Lake campground. A comfort station is open seasonally in the campground and washrooms with hot water and flush toilets are open year-round adjacent to the park office.
All washrooms are barrier-free and two barrier-free campground campsites are available.
Come for a day at the beach, a picnic, barbecue or a hike along the trails.
Laundry facilities are available at the George Lake Campground comfort station.
A boat launch is available at Chikanishing access point which provides access to Georgian Bay.
Canoes are available from a number of local outfitters; snowshoes can be rented through the Friends of Killarney Park and can be reserved by calling 705-287-2800
At two Outpost shops, operated by the Friends of Killarney, you can buy maps, trail guides, educational books and souvenirs. The Outposts are located at the George Lake park entrance and at the Bell Lake access point.
There is one picnic shelter in the park which is located at the Winter Warm-Up Hut in the day-use area. The shelter is available on a first-come first-served basis.
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Killarney Provincial Park