There’s a few things that everyone thinks of when they hear “Canada”: hockey, lumberjacks, maple syrup, Justin Trudeau, and “the Great North” – all wonderful things to be associated with. But having a true Canadian experience isn’t complete without that last point, exploring all the beauty and wilderness this country has to offer.
This is the first of our 3 part Summer In Ontario Parks Itinerary series, starting with the iconic Killarney Provincial Park!
Killarney Provincial Park has a historic past, and inspired some of the Group of Seven’s artists so much that they persuaded the Ontario government to make it a park. With this itinerary we’ll guide you with a travel route, suggest things to see and do, and of course, what Ontario sourced food to bring with you. Although the itinerary is more cut out for the casual “car-camping” adventurist, feel free to make it your own if you’re more of a portaging type explorer. So put on your sweater, fill your cooler with Ontario craft brews, and go find your own White Pine!
Before setting off for your journey, make sure to prep everything you’ll need for your trip. Keep in mind, summer weather in Ontario can be unpredictable, so make sure to pack both light and loose clothing, as well as a rain jacket and waterproof tent cover in case a storm comes down. Check out this easy Parks Canada checklist if it’s your first time going: http://www.pc.gc.ca/eng/media/ltc-dlc/ltc-dlc07.aspx
Located in Central Ontario on 645 kilometres of untouched wilderness, Killarney Provincial Park’s George Lake campground is open year round for car camping, but also provides 183 backcountry canoe-in sites, 33 backcountry hike-in sites, 1 rustic one-roomed cabin, and 6 yurts. Be aware though that the cabin and yurts get booked up very early in the season, so plan accordingly if that’s the type of accommodation you’d like to stay in.
From Toronto, Killarney is approximately 4 hours and 15 minutes or 412 km. For the majority of this drive you’ll be on the ON 400 N, and the Trans-Canada Highway/ON 69 N.
On your way northbound from Toronto, make a stop at the Flying Monkey Brewery in Barrie and pick up a six pack of their well known Hoptical Illusion and a couple Acadian Groove’s (10% Canadian Maple Porter!) for nights around the fire.
Next stop is Muskoka Lakes Winery, a Feast ON certified winery in Bala, just a slight detour off the 400. Owned by Johnston’s Cranberries, a family owned farm, they produce wines using their own farmed cranberries as well as other local fruits, and partner with local dairy farms for amazing cheese plates. If you’ve got the time and want to stretch your legs, stop for a Bog to Bottle discovery tour. Make sure to pick up a jar of their cranberry sauce to add to your camping meals, or add some flare to s’mores (if you wanna get extra fancy, bring white chocolate instead of the regular Hershey’s bar – it’ll be a great pair with the cranberry sauce).
What to Do
Killarney has a wide variety of activities to engage in, ensuring you have something new to do every day. Along with fishing and canoeing, it’s a great place for birding and has several hiking trails to explore. For the beginner hiker, we suggest the Chikanishing Trail (3 km), which takes about 1.5 hours to complete.
However, if you’re up for the challenge, take a stab at the infamous “The Crack” trail (6 km, 4 hours). It’s an intensive hike, and requires a lot of physical strength that takes you through a cascade of huge tumbled boulders of what is known as “The Crack” (warning: the park site warns not try to reach the Crack unless you are in good shape and can get an early start), but once you get to the top of the ridge you’ll experience one of the best views in the park.
What to Eat and Drink
While hot dogs and trail mix are camping staples, we’re offering some tastier alternatives to ensure that you can still eat well out in the wild, without much prep or cooking.
- Florence Meats Biltong
- St Albert’s Cheese Curds
- Evelyn’s Crackers Lavender Shortbread
- Stasis Preserves Hummus
- Forbes Wild Foods Labrador Tea
Be sure to bring plenty of bug spray, biodegradable soap, and a copy of Walden to complete your trip. Happy camping!