George-OSA-Artist-Threenarrows-Killarney Lakes Loop


Ever since we started canoeing people have told us that we have to go to Killarney: the “crown jewel” of the Ontario provincial park system.  Therefore, it seemed the perfect destination when we decided to trade the G20 craziness of Toronto for a 4-day weekend of wilderness.  We launched from George Lake where pink granite meets the white quartzite of the La Cloche Mountains (finally, elevation!). We made our way over a couple of easy portages and through Freeland Lake to Killarney Lake where we were fortunate enough to get a quick glance of a river otter swimming near the shore.  Due to the acidification of the lakes over the last century from area mining many of the lakes in this park can’t sustain biological matter.  Thus, they are the clearest lakes you have ever seen, and the most amazing color of blue. From Killarney lake, we took the lift over a beaver dam and the 130 meter portage to O.S.A Lake.  About 5 hours after setting out for the day and with our pick of sites, we set up camp on a really great island (#32) surrounded by crystal clear water.  Anticipating a long day, we broke camp the next morning before 9:00 and made our way through Muriel Lake.  Despite what we had read from previous trip reports, the un-named pond between Murial and Artist Lakes was navigable.  At the advice of a park ranger we met along the way, we directly attacked the steepest portage in the park, taking the 700 m trail from Artist Lake to the 1320 m trail to Threenarrows.  In addition to being steep, the portage follows a rock- and water-filled road, not exactly easy footing. 

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The entire portage took 1.5 hrs with several breaks for our old trooper of a lab (great job, Timber!!!).  Soon after the hard portage into Threenarrows Lake, we were rewarded with our first ever Canadian black bear sighting!  We sat for several minutes in the canoe before the bear ever took notice of us, then it went back to its business of turning over rocks, and we continued paddling along on our way.  Six hours after leaving O.S.A. that morning, we arrived at Doris Island and our campsite for the night (#50).  After seeing the bear earlier in the day, Mike was not too excited to see that our campsite was surrounded by blueberry bushes!  Saturday morning, we broke camp and after a lengthly, enjoyable paddle through the remainder of Threenarrows Lake, we hiked to Killarney Lake via the longest portage in the park (~3 km).  Again, we took this portage slowly for Timber’s sake, and were very happy to arrive back to the clear waters of Killarney Lake.  After some much needed lunch and rest, we made the short paddle to campsite #24 which is probably the best campsite that we have had the privilege to stay at in our Canadian adventures thus far.  From our elevated vantage, we could see across the clear lake to Killarney Ridge.  After a leisurely Sunday morning, we packed up camp for the final time and made our way back to George Lake through Freeland Lake.  People were right, Killarney is a beautiful park, unique with its old white mountains and eerily clear lakes.  We can’t wait to go back!