While much of the time on our backcountry canoe trip to Killarney Provincial Park was spent eating, swimming, and generally lazing around the wonderfully isolated campsites, we did manage to squeeze in some hiking. From our comfy base camp, we paddled, portaged, and trekked up Silver Peak, the highest point in the park. Although it looks more like a small hill from afar, at 543m the summit is nearly as tall as the CN Tower in Toronto!
After paddling about 1 km from our campsite on Grey Lake, we reached a 540m portage connecting to Bell Lake. This might have been the most challenging part of the whole trek, as the path was infested with mosquitoes and other biting insects, relentlessly attacking while we were carrying the canoes. Getting through the portage was such a relief every time (and we did the same crossing three times this day). Paddling another 2.5km, we reach the trailhead on the far west side of Bell Lake, and the start of the Silver Peak Trail.
The trail to the top is a sidetrail of the longer LaCloche Silhouette Trail, a 78-km loop of the LaCloche mountains in Killarney Park. It starts off relatively easy through a section of thick forest, and becomes more challenging with steep climbs up bouldered sections as you approach the peak. There isn’t much to see until you reach the top, as most of the mountain is covered with trees. The summit, however, is exposed white quartzite weathered to a smooth finish, and we were among the last groups to reach the peak that day, which is usually very popular and crowded. The views in all directions were great – we could even glimpse the city of Sudbury in the far north.
We could also see rain clouds moving in, so after a brief break (and a wild blueberry hunt) we made our way back down the peak, retracing the route to our canoes. By the time we reached the lake, it was coming down steadily which made the trip back a rain-soaked paddle. Fortunately it cleared up before we reached our campsite, and we were treated to a magnificent sunset followed by an equally satisfying camp dinner. Seven hours and 25km of padding and hiking – all in a days work!