Hiking the Crack in Killarney Provincial Park with Kids

What is So Great About Killarney Provincial Park

Killarney Provincial Park, located near the shores of the beautiful Georgian Bay is considered by many to be one of the most beautiful parks in Ontario. Like Pukaskwa National Park, Killarney was a muse for the famous Canadian painting troupe the Group of Seven due to its iconic pink granite and white quartzite ridges surrounding more than 50 sapphire lakes. When looking for a way to spend our Labour Day long weekend, we got lucky when a campsite opened up in Killarney and jumped at the chance to experience this beautiful park and do our best at Hiking The Crack in Killarney with kids.

Group of Seven painting by artist Lawren Harris

Group of Seven painting by artist Lawren Harris

Killarney Provincial Park is located just south of Sudbury, Ontario and covers an area of over 645 km². Killarney Park features stunning, crystal clear lakes and hiking trails fit for every skill level. Killarney hiking trails Include the epic 80 km looped La Cloche-Silhouette Trail, Silver Peak Trail, and Killarney Parks most famous hike “The Crack”. Many of the hikes are suitable for experienced hikers and we were anxious to try our hand at hiking The Crack in Killarney with kids.

While we opted to camp in one of the many car campsites that Killarney Provincial Park has to offer, the park also has many backcountry sites for hikers and canoers as well as Yurts for those who want more of a “glamping” experience.

Trail sign for The Crack hike in Killarney Provincial Park - Hiking The Crack in Killarney with Kids

Hiking the Crack in Killarney with kids

The Crack is one of the most epic Killarney Provincial Park hiking trails. This 6 km round trip hike in Killarney is rated moderate-difficult due to its steep, rocky terrain. We weren’t sure of how our kids would handle the rough terrain of Killarney hiking. So we gave ourselves double the four hours recommended for the hike. And we agreed that we would turn back if things got hairy. After all, we didn’t want another Green Gardens hike on our hands! But we set off with full intention of hiking The Crack in Killarney. You can read all about our experience hiking the Green Gardens trail in Gros Morne National Park here, or our CBC feature here.

Two young boys look at colourful mushrooms on a hiking trail - Hiking the Crack in Killarney with Kids

Pro-Tip: The parking lot for The Crack can be difficult to find. There are two small reflectors on each side of the drive leading to the parking lot, which is about 3 km from the George Lake Campground

This is Easy! Wait! No, it’s Not!

Including Killarney hiking to the Crack with kids appears easy at first view. When you first start the trail, you’re treated to a flat walk through birch and scotch pine forests for the first 2.5 kms. The hike at first is off-putting and almost a little boring. About 2 km into the trail it meets with the La Cloche-Silhouette Trail. Shortly after you are treated with a view of Kakakise lake and the terrain begins its climb upwards. This is where The Crack in Killarney starts to become one of the most famous hiking trails Ontario. The climb begins innocently, from smooth terrain, moving to jutting roots and on to small, and then large rock falls.

Two young boys walk towards a small lake in Ontario - Hiking the Crack in Killarney with Kids

C (5 years old) had no problems bounding over any obstacle that got in his way. Surprisingly, it was the roots that caused the most issue for D rather than the large rock falls. I think the fact that they were small and innocent looking had him paying less attention so he tripped a few times. Hiking the Crack in Killarney with kids is no easy task, but the boys were up for it!

A father gives his toddler a shoulder ride through a beautiful forest - Hiking the Crack in Killarney with Kids

Pro-Tip: The Crack is not a loop. Hikers must return along the same trail that they entered or they will enter the La Cloche Silhouette Trail, which is a 78 km loop.

The Crack Keeps Getting More Challenging

Once we completed the first rock fall climb, we were treated with a stunning view of Killarney and O.S.A. Lake. These lakes lie on popular Killarney canoe routes that we would explore the next day. The terrain at the viewpoint takes a dramatic twist from forest to rocky plains and the trail markers become significantly more difficult to follow due to the unclear paths and random patches of trees.

The kids worked on their temporary cairns and we all caught our breath before making our way across the mountain. It’s this time of challenging terrain that makes the Crack one of the hiking trails Toronto hiking groups love to visit.

Two young boys play on a rock near a cairn that overlooks forests and lakes - Hiking the Crack in Killarney with Kids

Slip and Slide

As we continued on, the boys found some smooth rocks at an area just below The Crack crevasse that they could use as a slide. Christina and I both watched with amusement at their antics while cringing in horror at the thought of having to replace the rear ends of their poor shorts!

Moments like this really bring to life how kids can find fun anywhere and everywhere if you let their minds be creative. They loved searching the ground fcolorserent colours of quartzite stones and collected pink, purple and white stones along the way.

Two young boys sit on a white rock against a blue sky - Hiking the Crack in Killarney with Kids

Reaching the top

After the kids’ shenanigans, we continued across the rock and got our first view of the crack. The boys were anxious to start making their way up. They may have been encouraged by the promise of gummy worms when they arrived. As we entered into the Crack we were refreshed with the drop in temperature from being under the hot sun and began making our way through the crevasse to the final rock fall before the view. C loved discovering all the caves caused by the rockfall and even found one deep enough that we could all go into. Despite its challenges, the Crack was fast becoming one of our favorite Ontario hiking trails!

A toddler climbs a large rock fall in Killarney Provincial Park - Hiking the Crack in Killarney with Kids

Pro-Tip: If you are on a canoe trip, “The Crack”” portion the La Cloche Silhouette trail can easily be accessed from either “Killarney Lake” or Kakakise Lake”.

We climbed out of the crevasse and were struck by the amazing views of Killarney Lake. The view covered the lake and much of the Southern La Cloche range. The peak is a popular place where many hikers rest after the long climb up the trail. Many people at the peak were sunbathing, picnicking and taking in the breathtaking views.

A young family smiles and poses at a viewpoint over lakes and forests - Hiking the Crack in Killarney with Kids

We enjoyed a picnic of our own and took in the view before heading back down the trail. Climbing down was more complicated than going up. For D, climbing down the larger rocks required a helping hand, but he did it with a smile. Christina and I were both so proud of the boys for their great attitudes on this tough hike. Hiking The Crack in Killarney has a timeline of 4 hours and with our stops and lunch, we did it in just under 7, and we still got back before the sun went down!

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Other Great Places for Hiking in Ontario with Kids

If you are looking for the best Ontario hiking trails for kids. Or you are just looking for great parks in Ontario. Killarney Provincial Park is just one of many. You can check out a few of our favorite outdoor attractions in Ontario below.

  • Sauble Falls Provincial Park is only two and a half hours north of Toronto, The region makes for a wonderful day trip from Toronto. You can read about Sauble Falls Provincial Park here.
  • Bon Echo Provincial Park is situated three hours east of Toronto. Bon Echo has towering cliffs and ancient native pictographs. You can read all about Bon Echo Provincial Park here.
  • Mara Provincial Park is a popular spot for family vacations Ontario due to its warm and sandy beach. You can read all about Mara Provincial Park here.
  • You can also visit one of Ontario’s Five National Parks like Bruce Peninsula National Park, Fathom Five National Marine Park, Thousand Islands National Park, Pukaskwa National Park or Georgian Bay Islands National Park. You can read about Ontario’s National Parks here.
  • You can also check out some of Ontario’s best Conservation Areas such as Limehouse and Belfountain for easy outdoor activities in Ontario.

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Hiking the Crack in Killarney with Kids - Pinterest

About the Author

Kevin Wagar is a creative designer and technology expert living in the Greater Toronto Area. His beautiful wife Christina impressed on him her love of travel and they have made exploring the world an integral part of their life. With the birth of their two boys, Kevin and Christina have made it their mission to show others that travelling with children isn't as scary as it sounds and that kids can benefit from experiencing the world outside of their front door and beyond.

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82 Comments

  1. This looks like an amazing hike! My kids love when hikes have all different kinds of terrain and end up running and jumping all over the place. We can’t wait to plan a road trip through Canada. What a beautiful country!

  2. This looks like a beautiful spot to go hiking Kevin. It’s actually quite surprising how many lovely places there are to hike in Ontario. Most people don’t know about them either. Great photos, by the way.

    1. How far is The Crack from the Sleeping Giant and Niagara Falls? My friends are heading to Ontario and this would suit them to a tee. DO you have any other suggestions for other lovely places around the region?

      1. Hi Christina, I’m sure your friends will have an amazing time in Ontario, it’s got a lot to offer! The drive between Sleeping Giant and Niagara Falls is about 16 hours, so they aren’t that close, although you would pass right by Killarney about 5 hours into the trip. If they are making that journey then a stop in the Algonquin/Muskoka area is a must to see Ontario’s legendary cottage country. Killbear Provincial Park and Manitoulin Island would also be beautiful places to stop. If they re-route their journey through the Bruce Peninsula, then Tobermory-Manitoulin is a beautiful drive and ferry ride.

        1. Thanks for the tips Kevin, It sounds like a big road trip. Ontario’s legendary cottage country is an intriguing name. Do they call it that because there are lots of cottages?

  3. Don’t you just hate it when they say it’s easy and it’s not! Hahahaha, that same situation happened to me in Iceland. I had a ton of gear with me and was told that the hike would be super easy and it wasn’t at all! Luckily, I survived and the view was worth the pain 🙂

  4. Wow the Crack sounds like quite a challenging hike for the kids! Kudos for them for doing this. Did they end up tearing their shorts on the smooth rocks? Haha

  5. The Kilarney crack hike is really amazing. I especially liked how the terrain changes from lush forests to a rocky terrain. Seeing the kids sliding on the smooth surface of a rock, brought back nostalgic memories of childhood.

  6. It looks like a great hike for kids! I probably would have needed a helping hand down too 🙂 Thanks for including the hiking time. It makes is so much easier to plan the day.

  7. You meant to say it is just south of Sudbury. Been there many times and always love going back. Great hike to take the kids to enjoy.

  8. That is so good, the kids are learning fast and they will be experts in a couple of years.
    I haven’t done too many such trails yet , these kids inspire me now. 🙂

  9. This sure looks like the craic! Your boys certainly have great attitudes & endurance, I think they would put most adults to shame with the amount of complaining we can do sometimes, especially when it involves any kind of physical fitness, myself speaking anyway 🙂

  10. I just love reading about your family’s adventures on a regular. I thought it was pretty funny that you thought the hike was a little boring since it was flat and all of a sudden it became challenging! Hikes always creep up on you. I also loved the action shot of D on Kevin’s shoulders.

  11. I find it amazing that you were able to trek this park with children in tow. 🙂 I know how difficult it could be. My niece sometimes go with us during easy treks, and even though we have to keep our eyes on her at all times. I think this is good since it builds confidence on kids and also expands their experiences at such an early age.

    P.S. Killarney Provincial Park looks beautiful!

  12. Wow this looks like a blast even for people who don’t have kids in tough. (And worth the 8 gummy worms at least) Do you know what the parks policy is on dogs by any chance? I would love to show my parents this for the next time they head to Canada!

  13. Absolutely gorgeous! My 4 year old would have a blast, she’s all into exploring and climbing these days. Those mushrooms remind me of growing up in Poland, where every fall, we would drive to a forest and go mushroom picking! I learned to tell poisonous from non really early on.

  14. Amazing photos! I hope to go on a nature trail with my son when he gets bigger. He runs around a lot so I am still scared to bring him on sites like these. What age did you start with your kids?

    1. Both of our children have been hiking since they were about 1 and a half. C explored the Puffin cliffs of Iceland and D hiked along the cliffs at Petra in Jordan. It can certainly be intimidating in places like this and we always make sure that we are within arms reach whenever we are on dangerous terrain.

  15. Thanks for highlighting this gorgeous part of Canada. I hiked there with friends as a teenager and hope to bring my son to the Crack one day. For now we’re enjoying the outdoor life in Uganda!! Lots of hiking and 365 days of great weather out here….

  16. This sounds like such a fun family day — even if it wasn’t the easiest hike. The best part is always the view at the end — and the picnic lunch sounds like a great way to take it in 🙂

  17. This looks like a lovely hike! You’re kids look like that had an amazing time and got to get some good old fashion one-on-one time with nature. Though it look like they are hiking pros from the pics 😉 I will have to add this park to my bucket list because that view is beautiful!

  18. Such a wonderful recap! Sometimes when I go on hikes and I see kids, I think “I’m struggling, how are you doing?!” and then I remember kids have a ton more energy! Good to know they were pretty good with this trail.Your gummy worm comment made me laugh because when my friend (who grew up hiking) and I went up Mt. Batur in Bali, she told me her dad would promise her candy when she used to get tired! So she kept promising me virtual gummies the whole time haha.

  19. Looks like you had such a great climb! I love that your little guys are so brave. I’m not sure I would be that brave. Also, I’m pretty sure you’ve sold me on visiting Ontario!

  20. Reading your post reminds me of hiking with my parents as a kid. We always went on such great hikes, although some of them were either hairy or scary at times. Gummy worms are the perfect reward. 🙂

  21. This seems like a really cool thing to do on a weekend. I would love to go for one such hikes in the future. I had been to one in the Lake District but it was a real dense forested area and kind of scary as well.

  22. I love a good hike and this looks like the perfect place for it. I’ve never heard of Killarney but I will have to check it out. Thank you for your post 🙂

  23. I’ve never heard of this hike before, definitely need to check it out if I’m ever in your neck of the woods (pun intended). Sounds like a wicked day out with the family! Also good to see kids out and about rather than being glued to their electronics. On ya family!

  24. It looks like the views were worth the effort in the end! I remember hating hiking when I was a kid, so well done to your two for managing it! I have memories of crying the whole time when my parents tried to drag me on a walk!!

  25. Gnarly roots are deceptive to any hiker! You have no idea how many times my foot has been caught in a tangle of roots and could have lead to serious injury. That’s what I’m most scared of! But cute the kids were adding to their rock collections! I never thought how fun that could be on a hike!

  26. You’re brave to do so many adventures with your kids. I bet they love it and will grow up to truly appreciate nature and travel though! I always do little hikes on my vacations, but I think it would be interesting to start trying some longer more adventurous ones. I’m just always so afraid I’ll get lost!!

  27. Hi Kevin,

    That root network looks like it can trip the kids – or adults – up. Or maybe roll an ankle or 2 if not careful. Looks like a challenging enough yet rewarding hike to me. Which is my kinda hike. Because all good hikes scare you a bit but make you feel like a million bucks after you finish. Thank goodness it was safe. I’ve hiked thru some SE Asia spots – Thailand in particular – that were brutal. And downright dangerous if not deadly in some areas. We carefully tippy toed thru some spots but thanked the lucky stars and various deities that we made our way through! In 1 piece.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Ryan

  28. Great photos! Awesome job to your kids for completing the hike. I’m sure they enjoyed the sense of accomplishment after. Love seeing kids outdoors!

  29. What a great hike! I love the rocky area at the top and although a bit trickier to navigate that terrain is a lot more interesting than the flat path. I never mind a bit of a climb when I’m rewarded with amazing views.

  30. Absolutely more people should walk with their kids, they handle it well. I remember our first big walk with the boys, up Little Adam’s Peak in Sri Lanka, they did great, racing off ahead in their Crocs. They did 8K that day and didn’t even notice. There were lots of “Wows” when they got to the top and plenty of skipping and hopping along the trails. A few months ago we took them up towards Everest on the EBC trek…they did great! Start them young, they handle it well.

  31. The views here are stunning! Looks like the boys had a fab time! I usually find when I get to trails which start to incline that the kids (nephews) end up running straight past me and it’s me that has difficulty keeping up lol I don’t know where they get the energy from!! Killarney Provincial Park is on the list!

  32. This looks like a great challenging hike! Your photos are helpful and beautiful. It’s great you are sharing your love for travel with your boys. I know my parents did the same for me and I am thankful.

    I visited Ontario several years ago and took a boat tour of the Georgian Bay. It is so beautiful. I hope to return one day and explore more. I’ll have to add this to my ‘things to do’ list!! Thanks for sharing a great destination!

  33. The Crack looks like a great hike, with or without kids. Kids are so nimble. I remember when my boys were that young. They’d scamper up hills like billy goats.

    Thanks for the heads up about the Crack. Will have to remember to visit if I make it to Ontario.

  34. What a fun adventure!! Your kids did great making it to the end of that hike and they sure looked like they had fun along the way, especially with that rock slide they found! 🙂 Looks like a gorgeous area and a fun but challenging hike!

  35. A bit of a struggle, a challenge, a test and loads of fun is how I would describe your experience. It is quite inspiring to see the kids take it up so well. I love the way you get the kids to rough it out. Cheers

  36. Impressive! That three-year-old is truly a trouper! You’re growing a couple of nearly fearless adventurers. Wonderful narrative and video.
    And I love the Group of Seven artwork up front. I have a Tom Thompson reproduction hanging on my hallway wall in Charleston, SC.

  37. Oh my God! Bravo Kids! looks fun with thrill. I would like to do such a wonderful hike if I will be in Ontario. Its would really a unique & great experience for me. Thanks Kevin for sharing this post.

  38. I admire your kids Kevin and Christina! Family goals for me! The kids looks like they thoroughly enjoyed the hike. Hikes like these will leave a lasting impression on them throughout their life.

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