Camping in a Cabin in Killarney Provincial Park

Length of stay: 2 days
Visited: November 2022

Killarney Provincial Park is located along the northern shore of Georgian Bay. It is surrounded by wilderness and contains mountains, forests, lakes, beaches and wetlands. It is open year-round and provides a number of recreational activities depending on the season to enjoy the stunning scenery. The campground also offers roofed accommodations that provide a more comfortable and convenient camping experience.

We booked a rustic cabin at the George Lake Campground, which is open for camping all year, for a weekend at the end of November. We left work a bit early on Friday afternoon to beat the traffic and to avoid the worst of the snow squall warning that was in effect. While Killarney wasn’t under a winter weather travel advisory, we had to drive through one of the regions that was. Let’s just say that we should have put our winter tires on before our trip. But we made it.

We arrived at the park just after 9:30p.m. There was a bit of snow on the ground, but the gates in the campground were still open so we could just drive to our rustic cabin. The cabin consists of a single room with a screened in front porch. It can sleep up to five people and comes equipped with a queen bed and a double/single bunk bed. It also has a table with chairs and a bench, lighting, a propane fireplace and a small kitchenette with a mini fridge, microwave, kettle and coffee maker.

We lugged all our gear and supplies into the cabin. According to the thermostat, it was 2°C inside. We turned on the propane fireplace and cranked up the heat. Winter sure came on fast and hard here in southern Ontario.

Day 1: Pink Granite Rocks

It was cold and blustery outside when we woke up the next morning. After eating breakfast we went to the Park Office to check in and to inquire about the trail conditions. All the trails were open and in good condition, but the guy warned us that there may be some slippery sections because of the snow, but we should be fine if we took our time. We started off with the Chikanishing Trail (3.5km loop, rated moderate). The trailhead is located at the end of Chikanishing Road, a few kilometres west of the George Lake Campground.

The trail passes over a series of small pink granite ridges across the Canadian Shield to the rugged shore of Georgian Bay. Along the path there’s a series of interpretive signs that provide more information about the history of the area, including about the First Nations people that lived here and how most of the surrounding forests were logged intensively. The trail is signed with red circles on the trees as well as on the rocks, however these were a bit tricky to see because of the snow.

The snow also made the rocks slippery. There wasn’t enough snow or ice to use either snowshoes or microspikes, so we just had to trust our winter hiking boots and balance. We took our time to navigate up, over, down and around the pink slabs of granite. As if that wasn’t hard enough, as we neared the shoreline, we also had to deal with the ferocious wind. No wonder the vegetation looked so stunted and wind swept.

At the last interpretive sign, we turned around. We crossed over the wooden bridge and boardwalk. This is where the path splits off. We could hike back the way we came, or take the other route which forms a loop back to the trailhead. We opted for a change in scenery and completed the rest of the loop. This portion of the path leads through the forest and up a large ridge towards another stretch of trees. There were a series of boardwalks and wooden planks, likely because this section gets pretty muddy. One of the advantages to hiking in the cold was that at least the ground was frozen so we didn’t have any muddy surprises. Overall it took us an hour and a half to complete the trail. There were a few dicey sections, but we managed to stay on our feet the whole time.

We drove back to the cabin to get out of the wind and to warm up from the cold. After eating lunch, we headed out to hike along the Cranberry Bog Trail (4km loop, rated moderate), which is located at the other end of the campground. While we could have driven to the trailhead (there’s a small parking lot by the second beach area on George Lake), we opted to get the extra steps and just walk there since it only adds a couple more kilometres (round trip) to the hike.

The Cranberry Bog Trail weaves through the forest and passes a series of bogs and marshes, starting with Prolux Marsh. The trail is well signed with red markers on the trees and contains twelve numbered signs, which are often placed at a nice viewpoint. The conditions on the trail were pretty good. A few people had hiked here earlier, so we just followed all the footprints in the snow.

The first part of the trail weaves through the forest before passing Cranberry Bog. After crossing the bridge, the views overlooking the bog just kept getting better and better, but the trail also became more challenging, largely because the snow made the rocks a bit slippery. There were also a few steep sections.

The trail overlaps with a small section of La Cloche Silhouette Trail, a strenuous 80km multi-day trail and is marked with a series of red and blue markers (red for the Cranberry Bog and blue for La Cloche Silhouette). The trail then passes A.Y. Jackson Lake, which was named after one of the founding members of the Group of Seven Canadian artists. There’s one final steep downhill before the trail loops back to the campground.

We walked down to the shore of George Lake before heading back to the cabin. It was really starting to cool down and the forecast was calling for 5cm of snow in the evening. We were looking forward to warming up by the fireplace with a nice cold glass of Chardonnay.

Day 2: Snowy Scenes

The next morning we woke up to a fresh layer of snow outside, which looked very pretty, except it was cold. Like really cold. It was currently -11°C (and felt like -19°C with the wind chill). Thankfully we stayed nice and toasty inside our rustic cabin overnight. The downside was having to walk to the Park Office in the morning to use the washroom. Since I was already outside in the cold, I figured I’d might as well make the most of it and walk down to the beach area on George Lake. The sun was just starting to rise from behind the La Cloche Mountains.

I didn’t linger long as my fingers were freezing from taking a few pictures. I headed back to the cabin to make a hot cup of tea. After making breakfast, we packed up the car. On the way out of the park, we hiked the Granite Ridge Trail (2km round trip, rated moderate). The trail is located across the road from the Park Office. It weaves through the forest, climbs a ridge, and features a series of viewpoints of the surrounding area.

We’ve hiked this trail three times before and every time we’ve been confused as to how to properly complete it. The trail is signed with red markers and thirteen numbered signs. However, the path criss-crosses in a couple of places and there’s a couple of one-way detours, which adds to the confusion.

The first stretch of the trail is relatively straightforward to navigate. The path weaves through the forest and is well marked. The first notable point of interest is at post #4, which passes an abandoned car.

Shortly after there are some arrows to point you in the right direction, which is up over the first ridge. The path branches off to the right at post #6, but there is an option to continue straight. Based on past (failed) attempts, we went right to climb up another steep hill. We continued following the red markers. The path branches off again and it wasn’t clear which way to go, so we kept right hoping that was the right direction. We climbed up a series of ridges which lead to a couple of overlooks of Georgian Bay and La Cloche Mountains, passing posts #9, #10 and #11.

From there we turned around and hiked back the way we came until we returned to the junction, this time we went the other way. But then the path branches off again. We went to the right since that seemed to work out well for us last time, except we ended up looping back to the path that leads to the overlooks. So we turned around and went the other way. We passed post #12, so at least we knew we were going in the proper direction. The path then leads up another series of small ridges that provide another nice viewpoint of La Cloche Mountains before connecting back with the main path.

While we never did find every single numbered post on the trail, maybe next time we’ll have better luck. We hopped in the car and headed home, all the while planning a return trip to Killarney for next year.


76 thoughts on “Camping in a Cabin in Killarney Provincial Park

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      I was surprised with the amount of snow. We visited Killarney a couple of years ago around the same time and had a completely different weather. No complaints because the landscape looked beautiful and at least we were staying in a heated cabin!

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      It’s amazing how the snow can transform the entire landscape. Even though it was chilly outside, at least we had a warm cabin to return to after spending the day outside. It was very cozy. Plus the snow felt very festive. Merry Christmas to you as well. Enjoy the rest of the holidays. Linda

  1. grandmisadventures says:

    wow, that little bit of snow makes an already beautiful place and makes it almost ethereal and magical looking. Nothing better than beautiful winter views! Wishing you all the best in the new year 🙂

  2. ourcrossings says:

    Look how beautiful the park is covered in snow. I love snow because it hits all your senses, you can see its whiteness and you can feel its sting and its melt. You can hear how it muffles sound. You can be stopped by its substance. You can slip on it too. Thanks for sharing and have a good day 🙂 Aiva xx

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Despite the cold, I’m such a fan of the snow as well. I love how it transforms the landscape and makes everything look so much brighter, especially at night. We had a wonderful time hiking in the snow in Killarney. It was a real treat to return to our heated cabin afterwards to warm-up. Thanks for reading. Enjoy the rest of the holidays. Linda

  3. Lynette d'Arty-Cross says:

    That’s definitely Group of Seven country. The geography is so distinctive. That wind, though. And the cold really comes across in your photos. Burr. Good on you for persevering through it and the instability underfoot. Glad to hear that you were cozy at night.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      For sure. The wind swept landscape around Georgian Bay is very picturesque. But oh wow is that wind harsh. Even though the trails were snowy, at least they weren’t icy. We just took our time along the rocks and ridges. It was so nice to return to a heated cabin afterwards to warm-up.

  4. Darlene says:

    Gorgeous scenery. The snow is always so pretty but I can no longer deal with the cold. Wishing you a very Happy New Year with lots of fun trips planned.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks! The snow covered landscape in Killarney sure looked beautiful. Agreed, It is tough dealing with the cold though, especially when it’s really windy outside. At least we were staying in a heated cabin so we could take breaks in between our hikes to warm up. Enjoy the rest of the holidays and have a happy New Year as well. Cheers. Linda

  5. Ab says:

    It’s incredible to think you were getting nearly -20 weather in November up there. I wonder what it must’ve been like this past weekend.

    Killarney is such a special place. I still dream about the day trip we did there in 2020 and look forward to going back. Ed did the Chikanishing Trail and stopped by two spots for a swim and picnic and those pink granite rocks were truly special indeed.

    There is not an ugly viewing spot up there. Will definitely have to try one of these cabins one day!

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Oh I know. It’s crazy because the week before we went to Killarney I was outside hanging up my Christmas lights in a t-shirt! Even though it was cold, at least the snow made the landscape look magical. It was a nice preview for what was to come with winter.

      I completely agree that Killarney is such a special place. We visited for the first time in 2020 as well and have returned every year since then. I just booked a yurt in Killarney for the beginning of May for next year. Fingers crossed the bugs won’t be bad then.

      The Chikanishing Trail is one of my favourites. The pink granite rocks are stunning, especially in contrast to the water. I haven’t been brave enough to go for a swim though. Maybe next year.

      • Ab says:

        You are so organized. Must be nice to have it booked and to have that to look forward to. I’m going to look tomorrow into this. I really wanna go to Killarny again in 2023 and Killbear too.

        Happy new year to you and K!

      • WanderingCanadians says:

        You have to be these days given how popular camping has become! Best of luck booking something in Killarney and Killbear for 2023. We’re still trying to decide whether we want to give Ontario camping another whirl this summer.

        Happy New Year to you and your family as well!! Here’s to many more adventures for us both in 2023!

  6. Linda K says:

    Lovely snowy photos! Well worth the cold to get them. Glad you were able to stay safe and not worry too much about the conditions of the trails…although I can imagine it was very slippery in some places. The Cranberry Bog pictures are so pretty!

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks! I just love how the snow transforms the landscape. It made hiking a bit more challenging as the rocks were quite slippery, but we just took our time. It was a real treat to return to our heated cabin afterwards to warm up. It was a wonderful weekend adventure and a great preview for winter.

  7. Christie says:

    We have just discussed over the Christmas dinner table about Killarney🙂 I’m not sure we would be so brave to go during the winter time though, especially if one needs to walk to the park office to use the facilities lol Beautiful scenery, the snow touch is lovely!

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      The nice thing about visiting Killarney in the winter is that the park is typically quiet, but it does mean having to lug your gear in from the Park Office. The park provides sleds though and at least the washrooms at the Park Office are heated. The trails can be a bit challenging with the snow and ice. I recently booked a yurt in Killarney for the beginning of May. Fingers crossed the bugs won’t be bad then.

  8. Little Miss Traveller says:

    Killarney Provincial Park looks so pretty with its dusting of snow making it look so beautiful. The cabin must have been cosy once you got the fire lit but it must have been very chilly going out to use the washrooms. Do you change to snow tyres during the winter Linda?

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      For sure. I love how a fresh snowfall can make the forest look so magical. Even though it was crisp and cold outside, it felt nice to get some fresh air. Plus we always had the cabin to return to to warm-up. We typically put our winter tires on in December, but the snow in southern Ontario came much earlier than expected. The roads were a bit messy in certain areas, which made the drive a bit nerve wracking.

  9. kagould17 says:

    What a cute little cabin. The perfect place to stay for a winter hiking get away. Too bad about the footing. Seems late fall and winter hiking can be a crapshoot. Either slipper or too deep snow. Looks like you made the most of it Linda. Happy Wednesday. Allan

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      It’s funny because we visited Killarney during the same time a couple of years ago and were hiking in t-shirts. The weather can be a bit unpredictable late in the fall, but at least the trails are quiet and there are no pesky bugs around. We’re planning on returning next spring and have booked one of the yurts for a different type of camping experience. Enjoy the rest of the week. Linda

  10. Bama says:

    Brrrr it looks really cold! I’ve never been to any place with such low temperatures before. But I can imagine if I ever do those hikes you did during winter, I will probably find myself spending more time in the cabin instead, which honestly looks quite cozy.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Winter came on very suddenly in Ontario, but at least the snowy scenery looked beautiful. It made hiking a bit more challenging as the rocks were slippery, but at least the ground was frozen otherwise I’m sure it would have been quite muddy in places. At least we could warm up in the cabin in between hikes. It was definitely a cozy and comfortable camping experience.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Oh I know. It’s always neat to see how much the landscape changes through the different seasons. Even though the snow is cold, it sure looks beautiful. And I love how quiet the forest is. Enjoy the rest of the holidays and happy New Year to you as well! Cheers. Linda

  11. leightontravels says:

    Wow, you can really see the wind wreaking havoc in some of these photos. Well done you for braving these conditions, as you had a great workout and captures wonderful images to boot. Love the cabin, the rocks, the frozen lake (?) and the car. I like the attitude of: “next time we’ll get all the posts”.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      It’s pretty neat how the wind twists and turns the trees along the coastline. Being out in the wind was a bit rough, which forced me to be more strategic when taking pictures. It helped that we could warm our hands up by the fireplace inside our rustic cabin afterwards. We’re planning on returning next spring and I’m hopeful that the fifth time’s the charm with that one trail in terms of navigation. Have a happy New Year!

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      I love how the snow makes the landscape look so magical. It definitely made hiking more challenging, but it forced us to slow down, which was probably a good thing. We took our time and managed to stay on our feet the whole time.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      We’ve been taking advantage of the roofed accommodations offered at a few of our provincial parks. It’s a great way to camp in the park while still enjoying many modern amenities, like heat, electricity and sleeping in a bed. Even though it was a bit chilly outside, the landscape sure looked beautiful with all that snow.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      While it’s typically cooler late in the fall and we don’t have as much daylight, the plus side is that the trails are typically much quieter, which is just how we like it. Happy New Year to you as well. Wishing you lots of fun, laughter and good memories in 2023!

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      The snow was a nice preview for winter! It made hiking a bit more challenging as the rocks were a bit slippery, but thankfully it wasn’t icy. It was so lovely to have a heated cabin to return to afterwards to warm up. Thanks so much for reading and leaving a comment.

  12. wetanddustyroads says:

    The rustic cabin is definitely a better option in the snow than putting up a tent 😉. I can see there was a lot of wind on the water (btw, it’s lovely pictures)! And I can understand that it’s challenging to hike in slippery conditions, but the snow makes such a wonderful winter landscape.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      You bet. We tried winter camping in a tent once and that was enough. It’s so much better to stay in one of these cabins with electricity and a fireplace. The fresh layer of snow made the forest look magical. Even though the hiking was a bit more challenging, at least it wasn’t very icy.

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