Killarney Provincial Park is one of the most stunning examples of natural beauty in the world. We spent our time hiking the Crack in Killarney with kids.
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 provincial 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. At the time, we were relative novices at family hikes. We’d enjoyed quite a few long and challenging routes, including family hikes in Iceland. But we were far from experts.
Now, after 25 countries and countless miles on the trails, we understand the nuances of family hiking. To help other families share that love with their kids I’ve put together this guide on how to hike with kids.
We weren’t sure of how our kids would handle the rough terrain of the Killarney “the Crack” hike. 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 Newfoundland Green Gardens hike on our hands!
But we set off with the 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
Hiking the Crack in Killarney is Challenging
Including the Killarney hike 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 to a view of Kakakise lake and the terrain begins its climb upwards. This is where The Crack hike 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, who was five years old at the time, had no problems bounding over any obstacle that got in his way. Surprisingly, it was the roots that caused the most issue for our three-year-old 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 Hike at Killarney Increases in Difficulty The Further You Go
Once we completed the first rockfall climb, we were treated to 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 from the Canadian Shield mixed with random patches of trees. We all took this moment to catch our breath before continuing our way across the mountain.
Slip and Slide
As we continued on, the boys found some smooth rocks in 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 for 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 the Crack we were refreshed by 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 of 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 of the Killarney the Crack hike 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 things to do in Sauble Beach here.
- Bon Echo Provincial Park is situated three hours east of Toronto. Bon Echo has towering cliffs and ancient native pictographs.
- Mara Provincial Park is a popular spot for family vacations in Ontario due to its warm and sandy beach.
- 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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Wednesday 18th of April 2018
Hiking with family is always a fun and best way to make a strong bond with them.
Tuesday 8th of November 2016
I admire your kids Kevin and Christina! Family goals for me! The kids looks like they thoroughly enjoyed the hike. Hikes like these will leave a lasting impression on them throughout their life.
Friday 21st of October 2016
Oh my God! Bravo Kids! looks fun with thrill. I would like to do such a wonderful hike if I will be in Ontario. Its would really a unique & great experience for me. Thanks Kevin for sharing this post.
Thursday 20th of October 2016
Impressive! That three-year-old is truly a trouper! You're growing a couple of nearly fearless adventurers. Wonderful narrative and video. And I love the Group of Seven artwork up front. I have a Tom Thompson reproduction hanging on my hallway wall in Charleston, SC.
Monday 10th of October 2016
A bit of a struggle, a challenge, a test and loads of fun is how I would describe your experience. It is quite inspiring to see the kids take it up so well. I love the way you get the kids to rough it out. Cheers