Our guide to hiking the Crack in Killarney Provincial Park has everything you need to hike one of Ontario’s most magnificent trails.
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 many of Ontario’s most scenic nature regions, such as Pukaskwa National Park, Killarney Provincial Park 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 blue lakes.
Hiking the Crack in Killarney Provincial Park was long on my list of incredible hikes in Ontario before the fates came together one Labour Day long weekend. With beautiful weather and an opening for camping at Killarney Provincial Park, we made the journey north from the GTA for the Crack Hike in Killarney.
About Killarney Provincial Park
Just South of Sudbury Ontario, Killarney Provincial Park sits on 645 square kilometers of picturesque landscape and wilderness. Killarney perfectly showcases the landscapes of North Channel of Georgian Bay which features age-worn mountains dotted with stunning, crystal-clear lakes and winding hiking trails fit for every skill level.
Killarney Provincial Park covers an area of over 645 square km (400 sq miles). The park features stunning, crystal-clear lakes for swimming and paddling, but the park is really known for its world-class hikes. Located in Killarney Provincial Park are numerous trails such as the lengthy 80 km looped La Cloche-Silhouette Trail, Silver Peak Trail, and the LaCloche Mountain range hosts a challenging trail named “The Crack hike”.
Many of the best hikes in Killarney PP are suitable for experienced hikers, but there are hikes for all skill levels, especially around the campground. Having completed some other notable hikes in Ontario such as the Cup and Saucer Trail on nearby Manitoulin Island, my family was anxious to try our hand at hiking The Crack in Killarney.
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.
What Is The Crack Hike in Killarney?
The Crack hike is considered by many hiking enthusiasts to be one of the most epic Killarney Provincial Park hiking trails, it’s second only to the La Cloche Silhouette Trail, which actually includes the crack within its 80km loop.
The Crack is a 6 km round trip hike in Killarney that is rated moderate-difficult due to its steep, rocky terrain, scrambling, and steep drops. The crack hike covers a breadth of terrain from leisurely strolls through the forests to an ever-steeper incline up the La Cloche Mountains into a literal scramble over rock falls to reach one of Ontario’s most epic viewpoints.
The trail is moderately well-marked, but there are sections that might require some patience as there are few trees on the rocky tabletops.
“The Crack,” is a rocky divide at the summit of the Killarney hike that was naturally created due to a fault in the Earth’s crust and movement over time.
How To Hike The Crack in Killarney Provincial Park
The Crack is one of the most epic Killarney Provincial Park hiking trails. This 6 km round trip (3 km one-way) hike in Killarney is rated moderate-difficult due to its steep, rocky terrain.
For the first 2.5 km of the Crack hiking trail hikers are treated to a flat walk through birch and scotch pine forests. It’s a scenic and leisurely route that winds past lakes. The hike, at first, gives little warning about what is to come. About 2 km into the trail, the Crack Hike in Killarney meets with the La Cloche-Silhouette Trail, and that’s where things become interesting.
The hike passes 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 on to large rock falls which require scrambling.
Once you’ve completed the first rockfall climb, you are 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 groves of pine trees. From this point, be prepared for:
- Sharp rocks that get very slippery when wet
- Large and small cobble
- Crumbly, erosion-prone soil
- Exposed roots and other tripping/slipping hazards
- Large boulders
- Steep drop-offs
The last stretch of The Crack hike in Killarney Provincial Park is a scramble up between two rock faces known that helped the hike get its name. Once you’ve reached the top, you will be refreshed by the drop in temperature from being under the hot sun then make your way through the crevasse to the final rockfall before the view.
Enjoy discovering all the caves caused by the rockfall as some are deep enough that you can go all the way into them.
After climbing out of the crevasse you will be struck by the amazing views of Killarney Lake. The view covers the lake and much of the Southern La Cloche mountain 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 sunbathe, picnic, and take in the breathtaking views.
Our Killarney The Crack Hike On Video
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Hiking Killarney’s The Crack With Kids
The Crack hike in Killarney Provincial Park is challenging and requires some thinking along the way. When my family first hiked the Crack, we were novice hikers and my children were two and four years old. Now, after 25 countries as a family and countless miles on hiking trails around the world, 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
How To Stay Safe On The Crack Hiking Trail
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”.
When hiking The Crack in Killarney PP be aware of the time you are starting, This hike is challenging during the day and can be quite dangerous in the dark. Experienced hikers take an average of 4 hours to complete the hike (Round trip) whereas others not as experienced take, on average, 5 hours to complete it.
During the summer months, it is recommended that you do not start hiking the Crack after 5 PM. In the fall months, it would be wise to start even earlier to ensure you are not scrambling back down the mountain trying to beat sundown. Keep in mind that the views at the top are stunning, and you may find yourself spending hours taking in the scenery.
Before you start your Killarney The Crack hike, stop in at the Lake George park office and grab a map. A phone can be used to help guide you but keep in mind that your signal can drop and the battery could die. It is a better idea to minimize the use of your phone for emergencies.
The Crack Trail Markers
The Crack hike guides you by using red markers, so ensure you keep an eye out for these red markers on open rock areas and on trees. In areas where markers can’t be placed, a red post is typically placed. There are areas along the trail, especially once you’ve reached the rocky portion, that trail markers can be challenging to find. Luckily the Crack is a fairly popular trail, and you’ll likely come across other hikers on the route.
The Crack consists of steep climbs, slippery cobbles, and rocky terrain. Ensure you are wearing the proper footwear so you’re as steady as a mountain goat. Wear hiking shoes with a lot of tread, because running shoes or sandals don’t have nearly as much support or grip. You can have a look at our favorite hiking shoes for this year here:
What To Bring On The Crack Hike
It is important to stay hydrated so bring a bottle of water (2 liters per person) when you tackle this hike. It is also smart to bring the following:
- Snacks to keep your energy up
- First aid kit for scratches and strains
- Hat and sunscreen
- Weather-appropriate clothing, including layers
- Enough water for a full day of hiking
Make sure that you pack wisely and that you have something to keep your garbage in until you get back to the bottom. Remember to leave no trace while enjoying the outdoors.
Tips for Killarney’s The Crack hike
- 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
- The daily parking permit is $15.50 and to guarantee your spot, you can go online and purchase your parking permit up to 5 days in advance.
- Check the forecast before starting your hike. It is not recommended to hike The Crack in Killarney Provincial Park when it is raining.
- Stay on the trail. Do not wander off and try to take shortcuts
- 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.
- Dogs are allowed to accompany you but must be kept on a leash at all times.
- If you are camping in Killarney Provincial Park, the hiking trails are included in our stay.
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.
Other Great Killarney Provincial Park Hiking Trails
Chikanishing Trail (3 km, 1.5 hours, moderate)
Cranberry Bog Trail (4 km, 2.5 hours, moderate)
Granite Ridge Trail (2 km, 1 hour, moderate)
Lake of The Woods Trail (3.5 km, 3 hours, moderate to difficult)
Things To Do Near Killarney Provincial Park
Whether you’re paddling, hiking, or camping in Killarney Provincial Park, Whether you’re exploring the park or the nearby towns, the Killarney region is absolutely magical.
One of the top reasons people visit Killarney Provincial Park is to go camping. The George Lake campground is a great getaway if you enjoy waking up to the wilderness. This campground is even open for winter camping. When you are camping in the George Lake campground, you have access to trails that Killarney Provincial Park has to offer.
George Lake is lined with two stretches of beach, where you can set up, relax and catch some rays. The beaches are shallow and are roped off for your swimming pleasure. The water temperature is comfortable in the summer. There are also washrooms available on both stretches of the beach.
Killarney is well known for being a great place to canoe. In Killarney, you are able to canoe for a couple hours, day trip, or head out on multi-day trips that can include forays into Georgian Bay.
Depending on how adventurous you are feeling, you can canoe up and down the shores taking in nature without having to paddle across long expanses of water. In George Lake, more experienced canoers can venture further to easy/moderate portages to escape further and see sites not accessible by roads or hikers. You can arrange a rental in advance right on the shores of George Lake
The Town of Killarney
Nestled at the end of Highway 637, this quaint village looks out over Killarney Channel and is a must to visit. With colorful buildings lining the shore accompanied by fishing boats sprawled across the docks, Killarney has quite the Maritime feel to it.
Dine in some fine restaurants such as Herbert Fisheries, Killarney Mountain Lodge, Sportsman’s Inn, Curds n’ Way Café, and Bake Shop.
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!
Other Great Places for Hiking in Ontario
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