Hike #52: Chikanishing Trail

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

58 thoughts on “Hike #52: Chikanishing Trail

  1. ourcrossings says:

    Wow, what a beautiful landscape, and the lakes are so pristine; it’s certainly a photographer’s and hikers paradise. Although, it makes you wonder how those lonesome pines brave the winds alone. By the way, are there bears in Killarney Provincial Park? Thanks for sharing and have a lovely day 😀 Aiva

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Killarney’s landscape sure is magnificent. The campground is quite small, which means that more of the park is left as wilderness. It definitely has some of the best hiking trails in Ontario. There are black bears in the park and there are plenty of signs to remind people that this is bear country. Thankfully I’ve never seen one while camping in Killarney. Thanks for reading.

  2. Ab says:

    Ahhh, this brings me back. This was the trail that we did during our daytrip to Killarney. Such a great hike and we found a nice private spot to swim. That board walk leading up to the bridge was partially covered in water when we hiked and I had slipped and got my shoes soaked. Boo.

    Killarney is such a beautiful landscape and so can’t wait to visit again. Thanks for sharing these wonderful memories and pictures!

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      This is such a great trail, we couldn’t think of a better one to end our 52 Hike Challenge with. When we hiked this earlier in the summer in June, the bridge was partially submerged under water too. That sucks that you fell and then got your shoes wet. Hopefully you didn’t hurt yourself and were able to dry off your shoes. You are much braver than I was to go for a swim there. Can’t wait to return to Killarney too.

      • Ab says:

        We found an amazing spot – very shallow. The water water cold but more refreshing than life threatening. 🙂 And T loved it. Just thinking about hiking and swimming there again is giving me the Will to get through these crappy pandemic winter days. 🙂 So thanks for the pick me up!!!

      • WanderingCanadians says:

        When we return next summer we might have to test out the water in Georgian Bay along this trail. And yes, at least we have something to look forward to that will help get us through the winter and lockdown. Now I’m just counting down the days until when I can make my camping reservations!!

  3. kagould17 says:

    What a beautiful place to hike and I am so jealous of how nice the weather was at that point in November. Great to have a good place to hike and good weather to do it in. Thanks for sharing and stay well. Allan

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      We had unusually warm weather this fall, which was great for hiking and allowed us to complete our 52 Hike Challenge much earlier than expected. It was worth taking the week off to enjoy the remaining days of nice weather, especially at a park like Killarney. Thanks for reading. Take care.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      I fell in love with Killarney over the summer when we visited for 2 days on our first Northern Ontario road trip. I’m glad we made plans to return later in the year. It was such a different experience visiting in the off-season as it felt like we had the entire park all to ourselves. It really was the perfect place to finish our 52 Hike Challenge. Who knows, maybe this year we’ll be able to complete the challenge again. The nice thing about Ontario is that it is so huge that there are plenty of places left to discover.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      It’s incredible how some trees are able to withstand the harsh elements and then become forever twisted and warped along the direction the wind blows. When we first signed up for the challenge we thought 52 hikes would be stretch, but turns out we had a lot more free time this year to go hiking and ended up finished the challenge earlier than expected! It’s been quite the adventure and I’m a little sad that it’s over.

      • WanderingCanadians says:

        Those odd ball trees certainly make for some good photo ops though. Our challenge for this year is to visit as many provincial parks in Ontario as we can. So we may actually end up inadvertently completing the 52 Hike Challenge again.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks! This has certainly been one of the most ambitious New Year’s resolutions that we’ve set for ourselves. Turns out we had a lot more free time on our hands due to the pandemic. Thankfully many of our parks stayed open and we were able to get outside and get some fresh air and exercise.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      For sure, the terrain is definitely not flat. I imagine the rocks would be quite slippery if it was raining or snowing outside. Luckily we had fabulous weather (and beautiful views) to complete our 52nd hike.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      For sure. At the beginning of the year we thought this challenge was quite ambitious. But like with many things in life, you just have to take it one step (or rather hike) at a time. It’s also been fun exploring more of what’s in our own backyard. Thanks for following along on our hiking adventures.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      The landscape in Killarney is simply stunning, which makes for some very scenic hiking trails. During your road trip to watch the eclipse, I would highly recommend making a detour to visit Killarney. And yes, they do have two cabins, in addition to other camping options. It certainly beat sleeping outside in the tent in the cold.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks! The nice weather we had during the fall really helped us complete the challenge faster than we anticipated. Looking back, I’m glad we were able to spend as much time outside and enjoy it before it got unbearably cold and gloomy.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      The scenery in Killarney is incredible, which makes for some memorable hiking. This trail (even though I struggle to pronounce its name) was a great way to end our 52 Hike Challenge. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  4. Lynette d'Arty-Cross says:

    Congratulations on completing your hiking challenge! And in such a beautiful place. I used to go to Georgian Bay quite regularly but not not for a long time now.

    That’s quite an accomplishment; the weather certainly cooperated for the most part.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks, it was great to have a challenge like this to focus on in 2020 and have something to work towards. Killarney was the perfect place to complete it. Georgian Bay is such a lovely area in Ontario. We’re planning on taking a road trip around Georgian Bay, including Manitoulin Island, this summer to explore more of the parks along the coast.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      I actually got the idea to take on the 52 Hike Challenge from you! So many thanks for the inspiration. 2020 was the perfect year for the challenge, especially considering that hiking was pretty much the only thing we could (safely) do.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Killarney is easily one of my favourite places in Ontario. It’s no surprise that its landscape inspired many members of the Group of Seven painters. It was the perfect place to complete our challenge. Thanks for reading and commenting.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      The landscape and scenery in Killarney is breathtaking. Since we were visiting during the off-season we had the trail and pretty much the entire park all to ourselves. I can’t remember it ever being so warm in November before, it was lovely.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      I usually enjoy coastal trails. I always find it so soothing being close to the water. Plus, there’s usually a breeze to help keep the bugs at bay during the summer. This was such a great trail to end our 52 Hike Challenge with.

      • alisendopf says:

        You can now do a presentation on 52 great places to hike in Ontario for your local library or hiking club. What a fantastic 2020 experience. Something positive to look back on.

      • WanderingCanadians says:

        For sure, I have no shortage of hiking recommendations in Ontario after completing the 52 Hike Challenge! The challenge was such a great way to get us through 2020 and it’s always good to have a goal to work towards.

  5. Janet says:

    Congratulations on completing hike #52! That is quite a feat. I’ve enjoyed your trips and experiencing Canada through your words and camera lens. This area in particular is beautiful. Again, congratulations and I look forward to what’s next.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks! It felt very rewarding to complete the challenge. At first I thought hiking 52 times throughout the year would be a bit of a stretch, but then the pandemic happened and I had nothing but free time to hike. It’s been fun being able to explore more of the trails in my home province. Killarney is incredible and I’m glad we were able to complete the challenge here in one of the most beautiful parks in Ontario. In terms of what’s next, for 2021 our challenge is to try to visit as many provincial parks in Ontario as we can.

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