What is So Great About Killarney Provincial Park
Killarney Provincial Park, located near the shores of the beautiful Georgian Bay is considered by many to be one of the most beautiful parks in Ontario. Like Pukaskwa National Park, Killarney was a muse for the famous Canadian painting troupe the Group of Seven due to its iconic pink granite and white quartzite ridges surrounding more than 50 sapphire lakes. When looking for a way to spend our Labour Day long weekend, we got lucky when a campsite opened up in Killarney and jumped at the chance to experience this beautiful park and do our best at Hiking The Crack in Killarney with kids.
Killarney Provincial Park is located just south of Sudbury, Ontario and covers an area of over 645 km². Killarney Park features stunning, crystal clear lakes and hiking trails fit for every skill level. Killarney hiking trails Include the epic 80 km looped La Cloche-Silhouette Trail, Silver Peak Trail, and Killarney Parks most famous hike “The Crack”. Many of the hikes are suitable for experienced hikers and we were anxious to try our hand at hiking The Crack in Killarney with kids.
While we opted to camp in one of the many car campsites that Killarney Provincial Park has to offer, the park also has many backcountry sites for hikers and canoers as well as Yurts for those who want more of a “glamping” experience.
Hiking the Crack in Killarney with kids
The Crack is one of the most epic Killarney Provincial Park hiking trails. This 6 km round trip hike in Killarney is rated moderate-difficult due to its steep, rocky terrain. We weren’t sure of how our kids would handle the rough terrain of Killarney hiking. So we gave ourselves double the four hours recommended for the hike. And we agreed that we would turn back if things got hairy. After all, we didn’t want another Green Gardens hike on our hands! But we set off with full intention of hiking The Crack in Killarney. You can read all about our experience hiking the Green Gardens trail in Gros Morne National Park here, or our CBC feature here.
Pro-Tip: The parking lot for The Crack can be difficult to find. There are two small reflectors on each side of the drive leading to the parking lot, which is about 3 km from the George Lake Campground
This is Easy! Wait! No, it’s Not!
Including Killarney hiking to the Crack with kids appears easy at first view. When you first start the trail, you’re treated to a flat walk through birch and scotch pine forests for the first 2.5 km. The hike at first is off-putting and almost a little boring. About 2 km into the trail it meets with the La Cloche-Silhouette Trail. Shortly after you are treated with a view of Kakakise lake and the terrain begins its climb upwards. This is where The Crack in Killarney starts to become one of the most famous hiking trails in Ontario. The climb begins innocently, from smooth terrain, moving to jutting roots and on to small, and then large rock falls.
C (5 years old) had no problems bounding over any obstacle that got in his way. Surprisingly, it was the roots that caused the most issue for D rather than the large rock falls. I think the fact that they were small and innocent looking had him paying less attention so he tripped a few times. Hiking the Crack in Killarney with kids is no easy task, but the boys were up for it!
Pro-Tip: The Crack is not a loop. Hikers must return along the same trail that they entered or they will enter the La Cloche Silhouette Trail, which is a 78 km loop.
The Crack Keeps Getting More Challenging
Once we completed the first rockfall climb, we were treated with a stunning view of Killarney and O.S.A. Lake. These lakes lie on popular Killarney canoe routes that we would explore the next day. The terrain at the viewpoint takes a dramatic twist from forest to rocky plains and the trail markers become significantly more difficult to follow due to the unclear paths and random patches of trees.
The kids worked on their temporary cairns and we all caught our breath before making our way across the mountain. It’s this time of challenging terrain that makes the Crack one of the hiking trails Toronto hiking groups love to visit.
Slip and Slide
As we continued on, the boys found some smooth rocks at an area just below The Crack crevasse that they could use as a slide. Christina and I both watched with amusement at their antics while cringing in horror at the thought of having to replace the rear ends of their poor shorts!
Moments like this really bring to life how kids can find fun anywhere and everywhere if you let their minds be creative. They loved searching the ground florescent colors of quartzite stones and collected pink, purple and white stones along the way.
Reaching the top
After the kids’ shenanigans, we continued across the rock and got our first view of the crack. The boys were anxious to start making their way up. They may have been encouraged by the promise of gummy worms when they arrived. As we entered into the Crack we were refreshed with the drop in temperature from being under the hot sun and began making our way through the crevasse to the final rockfall before the view. C loved discovering all the caves caused by the rockfall and even found one deep enough that we could all go into. Despite its challenges, the Crack was fast becoming one of our favorite Ontario hiking trails!
Pro-Tip: If you are on a canoe trip, “The Crack”” portion the La Cloche Silhouette trail can easily be accessed from either “Killarney Lake” or Kakakise Lake”.
We climbed out of the crevasse and were struck by the amazing views of Killarney Lake. The view covered the lake and much of the Southern La Cloche range. The peak is a popular place where many hikers rest after the long climb up the trail. Many people at the peak were sunbathing, picnicking and taking in the breathtaking views.
We enjoyed a picnic of our own and took in the view before heading back down the trail. Climbing down was more complicated than going up. For D, climbing down the larger rocks required a helping hand, but he did it with a smile. Christina and I were both so proud of the boys for their great attitudes on this tough hike. Hiking The Crack in Killarney has a timeline of 4 hours and with our stops and lunch, we did it in just under 7, and we still got back before the sun went down!
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Other Great Places for Hiking in Ontario with Kids
If you are looking for the best Ontario hiking trails for kids. Or you are just looking for great parks in Ontario. Killarney Provincial Park is just one of many. You can check out a few of our favorite outdoor attractions in Ontario below.
- Sauble Falls Provincial Park is only two and a half hours north of Toronto, The region makes for a wonderful day trip from Toronto. You can read about Sauble Falls Provincial Park here.
- Bon Echo Provincial Park is situated three hours east of Toronto. Bon Echo has towering cliffs and ancient native pictographs. You can read all about Bon Echo Provincial Park here.
- Mara Provincial Park is a popular spot for family vacations Ontario due to its warm and sandy beach. You can read all about Mara Provincial Park here.
- You can also visit one of Ontario’s Five National Parks like Bruce Peninsula National Park, Fathom Five National Marine Park, Thousand Islands National Park, Pukaskwa National Park or Georgian Bay Islands National Park. You can read about Ontario’s National Parks here.
- You can also check out some of Ontario’s best Conservation Areas such as Limehouse and Belfountain for easy outdoor activities in Ontario.
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