Killarney – Silver Peak – July 2018
This trip was the 10th annual canoe trip with a group of my friends. We usually take turns organizing but someone was really keen to organize the 10th annual trip so he moved up the ranks and planned a route in Killarney. We did a small loop but planned on doing the Silver Peak hike during our paddle.
We put the canoe in at Bell Lake and paddled up to site 116 on Balsam Lake in a couple of hours – this is a pretty easy paddle on some pretty small lakes. There is a very short 30 m portage into Balsam Lake. Even though the lake was not fully booked on this summer Monday we had to check a few sites before finding one that was available.
We caught a few smallmouth bass around our campsite that night. Mostly from the canoe pretty close to camp.
The next morning after breakfast we headed for David Lake and our first real Killarney portage. It is about an 800m portage from Balsam into David Lake. On my first trip I was carrying the canoe so I didn’t realize until my second trip with packs how steep the rocky climb up out of Balsam Lake was. I wish I had taken a picture but it’s a very tough climb – you will need to dedicated portagers in your group for this one.
David Lake is a bigger lake and it’s one of the Killarney Lakes that does not allow for any fishing as this lake was pretty hard hit by acid rain. Once again we had to check a few sites before finding one that was available – we settled on site 103. This is a great site with a nice rocky point so there is morning and afternoon sun and usually a breeze. The downside is that it is quite close to site 102 (also a nice rocky point) so if having privacy is critical I wouldn’t choose this site. It would be a great spot for a group that needs 2 sites.
We decided to have lunch (Pitas, hummus, salami, fresh veggies) and then do the hike to Silver Peak. There are a couple of options for doing the Silver Peak hike. We decided to take the portage trail from David Lake to Boundary Lake until we met up with the La Cloche Silhouette hiking trail. From the hiking trail you can get on the Silver Peak trail. The trails are well worn and easy to follow. Within 10 minutes we were high up on the La Cloche Mountains looking down on David and Boundary Lakes. Even if you aren’t going to do the Silver Peak hike I would recommend doing this short climb if you are on David Lake because the view is impressive.
The hike to Silver Peak was tougher than expected with a few ups and downs. It took us almost 2 hours but the view is very rewarding. At the top you have lots of room to move around and see the park in all directions. Even on an overcast day we could easily see Georgian Bay and many of the Killarney lakes. I would recommend packing some extra water for this hike because you are working pretty hard and most of the people we saw up top were wishing they had a bit more water. The way back was a bit faster and easier but there are still some rocky sections that require you to take your time. Our camp site was visited by a very large and curious snapping turtle that clearly was used to campers and was hoping to get something to eat from us – sorry bud!
The next morning we canoed to the end of David Lake and paddled through a marshy area to the Bell Lake portage. The marshy area looks concerning on the map but there was lots of open water the entire time. We were there late in July with a fire ban so I am sure you can always paddle it. We paddled through in mid day but it looked like a great place to see wildlife in the morning or evening.
The portage into Bell Lake was once again around 800m. Going towards Bell Lake the portage was not as difficult as the earlier one. There is a pretty good climb coming out of Bell Lake but I don’t think it’s as steep as the Balsam to David Lake portage.
For our last night we were planning to camp on Bell Lake so that we could make an early exit the next morning. Sites 74 and 83 were not available. So we paddled to site 82 which was a quite a nice site. The downside of this site is that you are right across the lake from a small private resort so you can see those buildings from camp. We caught a few more bass on Bell Lake. Some were caught right from shore at camp but the biggest one was caught from the small island near camp.
In the morning we made the 20 minute paddle to shore and quickly loaded up. There is not a lot available at the Bell Lake outfitter store – it’s very different than the more heavily visited store at George Lake. Don’t plan on getting any last minute essentials at this location. It is a nice place to get the boats in and out of the water on a gravel beach. There is lots of parking available near the launch.