The traffic on highway 69 thins out once one gets past the popular cottage country around Muskoka. Turning onto highway 637, the long, lonely stretch of road that leads to the town of Killarney and nowhere else, traffic completely disappears. The solitary drive puts one in the right frame of mind: this is truly back country; visitors here mostly drive at least three hours from the nearest populated areas in southern Ontario to camp, hike, canoe, and sail. Killarney Provincial Park, sometimes called the ‘crown jewel’ of Ontario’s parks, is a vast tract of wilderness well known for its magnificent scenery. The campsites in the park are perpetually fully booked, but perhaps because of the relatively small number of sites available, this vast wilderness park never seems crowded, even during peak season at mid-summer.


Killarney Sailing Route                                                                                                 Killarney Park Area      


We had planned to break our one-week camping-sailing trip in two parts to cover the areas east and west of Killarney: land camping at a private camp ground near the town of Killarney for the first half, and then sailing-camping for the second half by launching from the Chikanishing Access Point and sailing up Collins Inlet. This avoids having to sail from Killarney through ten kilometers of Georgian Bay open water. Staying at a private campground was not by choice – Killarney Park was completely full. But it turned out that camp sites at Roche’ Rouge Campground are very spacious, with a beautiful view over Killarney Bay and overlooking the La Cloche Mountains. There is even a dock for the Hen, at only a short walk from our campsite.


Boat Dock at Campground


The weather this summer has been extreme: wet and cold all of June, and then dry and hot all of July. There is a fire ban in place; no campfire is allowed. And then today a low-pressure front arrives, bringing rain and wind. Across Georgian Bay a steady 10 knot south wind has been blowing all day, and at this northern tip of the vast body of water, even with only modest wind, wave height builds up and then further crests as it reaches land. We take the one-hour walk down the East Lighthouse Trail to watch the waves. The shoreline here is exposed to the constant effects of wind and wave, and the rugged trail winds through steep, rocky outcrops, cliffs overhanging the blue, rushing water, and pebbly beaches. We watch huge lake rollers driven by the south wind approaching, building up to ten-foot, cresting monsters, and crashing onto the rocky shore with thunderous roars. Camping on solid ground is not a bad idea, after all.

Big Waves, Georgian Bay


Sailing at Killarney Bay


Sail to Baie Fine