Along Chikanishing Trail
Killarney Provincial Park is one of Ontario's most popular wilderness destinations. The origins of the park is owed to the conservation effects of The Group of Seven. They were a group of Canadian landscape painters in the 1920's, who petitioned the Ontario Provincial government to have the area preserved, to protect all of their magnificent landscapes from logging. How could you not want to explore the unique and rugged scenery, that a group of Canadian artists fought so hard to protect. The Chikanishing Trail was the first trail we had decided to accomplish since arriving in Killarney Provincial Park. It is only 3.5km long and passes over a series of small rocky ridges, ending at a stunning wave washed point along the pristine waters of Georgian Bay. As you depart from the parking lot, you immediately start to clamber up aged pink granite rocks. Just as we began our trek, we met a couple who were returning from the trail. Of course we questioned them about how it was, and they replied in broken English accents, “ …it was so beautiful, there is no words to describe it in English.” You could tell by the smiles on their faces that they were awestruck, and that we were in for a treat of an adventure.
Naturally, just as we were gallivanting along, it began to sprinkle rain and then downpour for a good twenty minutes. After the weather had graced us with rain, the granite and quartzite rocks became a very slippery hazard. The weather can change fast in this area, and as we found out, it's best to always be prepared with good hiking shoes, rain wear, weather protection for camera gear, and a definite must is bug spray.
The trail is marked by red arrows that are displayed on trees or painted onto the rocks before you. It can be quite an adventurous trail, because you must pay attention and look for the trail markers, all the while you are scrambling up and down rock faces. If by chance the wrong direction is chosen (it may have happened to us on a few occasions) it is quite easy to backtrack a few steps, or in most cases to spot a marker off in the distance and then simply reroute yourselves. As you wind along the trail, there are many lookouts, as well as plaques that describe the history of the old logging days. The cool breeze that blows in off the bay feels magical, as if you can breathe in the clear cool blue waters. The gorgeous vantage points overlook many small glistening granite islands and inlets basking in the sapphire waters of Georgian Bay. It is definitely understandable that this park is known as a kayaker’s dream.
As the trail loops back around, it heads into forest that has some marsh and bog characteristics. This is where the bug spray is needed, as it is a mosquito haven within this forest! As you walk along the wooden planks that keep you elevated slightly above the marsh, you can spot many healthy pine, beech, birch, and oak trees. The trail will eventually loop around to the spot where you began. Overall, The Chikanishing Trail was a great mini adventure with many landscape photographic opportunities, and I would definitely hike it again.
Quick Trail Information:
Access: Chikanishing Trail starts at the end of Chikanishing Road, 2 km west of the park office. Parking available.
Trail Length: Approximately 3.5 km Loop Trail
Time: Approximately 2.5 hours
Difficulty: Moderate to Difficult (can be steep in some sections, climbing up and over rocks)
Dog Friendly: Yes!
Helpful Safe Hiking Tips:
- Sturdy hiking boots are recommend.
- Know you limits and respect them. You are ultimately responsible for your own safety.
- In wet conditions, the rocks are very slippery, so be careful!
- You have to pay attention and look for the trail markers, no groomed trails!
- The trail goes through marsh/forest bring bug spray!
A few good essentials: first aid kit, map, compass, sunscreen, bug spray, water bottle, snacks, camera, binoculars, rain gear.
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