Distance hiked: 3km
Location: Killarney Provincial Park, Ontario
Date: November 20, 2020
At the beginning of the year we signed up for the 52 Hike Challenge. Little did we know that in a few months there would be a pandemic. Turns out we’d have so much more free time on our hands to go hiking. While we had initially planned a few hikes in other provinces and countries, due to travel restrictions, we were forced to hit the trails in our home province of Ontario. And turns out there are quite a lot of great hiking options here.
With a handful of hikes left, we decided to take some time off of work and head to one of our favourite places in Ontario, Killarney Provincial Park, to complete the challenge. We booked a heated cabin in the park for three days towards the end of November. After spending the morning hiking one of my all-time favourite trails, The Crack, we headed out in the afternoon to hike along another one of my other favourite trails in the park, the Chikanishing Trail (3km, rated moderate).
The trailhead is located at the end of Chikanishing Road. There’s also a boat launch and canoe access point here so the parking area can get busy. But in November, we were the only ones here.
The trail is well marked with red circles outlined in black on the rocks and red markers on the trees. The path winds through the southern boundary of the park, crosses a series of small smooth ridges and leads down to a point on Georgian Bay.
There are a few interpretive signs along the way that tell the history of this part of Georgian Bay. Since the glaciers left, native people have lived here. French explorers who came to Lake Huron (referred to as Lake Attigouautan at the time) in the early 1600s weren’t knowledgeable about canoes, local foods, medicinal plans and the geography of the land. Therefore, the help and cooperation of the First Nations was essential to European exploration and fur trade.
Between the 1870s and early 1940s, most of the surrounding forests were logged intensively. The logs were floated down the Mahzenanzing River to Collins Inlet. Many of the lumberjacks, drivers and millers at Collins Inlet came from Killarney or Wikwemikong.
The vegetation along this stretch was sparse and stunted. Only hardy plants can survive the harsh winds.
The trail then leads across a wooden boardwalk and bridge to a point along the shore of Georgian Bay. After hiking to the point, we turned around. Near the bridge the path branches off to form a loop.
This part of the path leads through the forest. We were thankful to be out of the wind. There were some muddy patches, but there are a few boardwalks and planks over the worst of the swampy areas.
The trail then leads up a small ridge and back to the trailhead. And with that, we were now done the 52 Hike Challenge. We drove back to our heated cabin to settle in for the evening with a great sense of accomplishment.
My progress on the 52 Hike Challenge can be found here