If you head about an hour southwest of Sudbury, Ontario, you’ll find yourself travelling along Highway 637 and in Killarney Provincial Park. The Park is open year-round, and is known for it’s beautiful landscape. The pink granite, white quartzite, and a slew of clear lakes are all surrounded by 645 square kilometers of wilderness.
Shortly after entering the Park (if travelling from Sudbury, or 7km if you enter from the Main Gate near Georgian Bay) the trail head for a hike called The Crack is an indiscreet dirt parking lot on the side of the road. There’s no sign to indicate you’ve arrived (or passed) any sort of significant location, so keep your eyes peeled for the opening in the trees.
This is where I found myself this summer, ready to tackle this “moderate to difficult” hike, listed as 6km (4 hours) with steep climbs. I paid the $12 fee to park (you can pay this at the main gate entrance as well), and my companions (one two-legged, one four) and I headed down the flat wooded pathway that marks the start of the trail. The first couple kilometers of the hike are fairly easy. The pathway is an old logging road, and so was wide, flat, and easy to follow. We came to Kakakise Lake and crossed an old (but cute) wooden bridge, and followed the lake a while longer before a gradual incline started.
There was a few times early on in the hike where the incline would get steadily more steep and I would think we were beginning the final ascent, but each time was surprised as the ground leveled out again and we’d continue trekking onward, into the woods and slowly up the mountainside. Although overall the trail was relatively empty, we often found crowds at the steeper areas, bottle-necked with earlier adventurers returning down and those ahead of us slowing the pace with the added difficulty. Being in some relative form of fitness, once we were up and over those hurdles, we were able to quickly put space between us and the other hikers again.
If you’re looking for a hike to keep you on your toes, this one is it. The terrain varied from the wide logging road, to gradual inclines with narrow pathways, to steep, slick rock surfaces, gradual climbs up and over the quartzite mountainside, and finally clambering up large boulders before scaling through The Crack and up to the top, where you’ll have panoramic views of the park’s wilderness and the crystal clear Killarney Lake.
You’ll want to give yourself time to enjoy the views from the top, especially on a clear day. We were a bit rushed at the top, and with the beautiful, far-reaching views it would have been great to sit and take it all in (especially after all that work getting up there!).
When you’ve finished taking in the scenes from the top, turn around and head back down the way you came. This is important, otherwise you’ll find yourself on the Silhoutte Trail – a whopping 80km hike. The return trip is significantly easier than the way up, but you’ll still need to watch your footing heading back down through the Crack and down the wall of boulders – especially if you’re tired from the hike up. Continue watching for the red trail markers, too; I have a fairly decent sense of direction and yet nothing looked familiar going the opposite direction.
Once you do emerge from the woods, reward yourself with a well-earned lunch or supper. Head about ten minutes further along Highway 637 to the historic town of Killarney, on the Georgian Bay, for fish-and-chips from Herbert Fisheries. It’s arguably the best fish-and-chips I’ve had, and on a sunny day you can enjoy them at a picnic table on the dock, watching the kayakers move through the channel and sailors coming in to tie their boats at the dock.
Good to know:
Although the hike is posted as taking four hours, we were able to complete it in closer to three, though we moved quickly and didn’t take more than a few minutes at the top. I also recommend allowing yourself that extra time at the top to enjoy the views. If you’re not planning to head into Killarney for a meal after, bring something to snack on at the top.
The trail guides recommend being in good shape, and I don’t disagree with that assessment, although we did see a fair amount of people who seemed to be able to manage by taking it slow. Bring plenty of water and wear sunscreen.
Dogs are permitted in the park on a leash. We saw a handful of other dogs, and our agile lab only needed a gentle nudge clambering over one large rock. Otherwise, he probably had an easier time than we did! If you do bring a dog, make sure to bring plenty of water for them as well.
Have you hiked The Crack or spent any time in Killarney Provincial Park? Let me know in the comments!