Killarney is one of my new personal favourite places to camp of the Ontario Parks group. It features very unique scenery with large rounded white quartzite hills that dominate the landscape and straddle the La Cloche mountain rage. We did a 6 day, 5 night canoe trip launching from Bell Lake. Our nights were spent, in order, on Bell Lake, Deacon Lake, Balsam Lake, Harry Lake, and again on Balsam Lake on our way back. Highlights from the trip can be found in the video below!
We arrived late on a Tuesday night and the park office stayed open an additional 20 minutes to wait for our arrival which was very nice of them. We had called to see how long they thought it would take us from Toronto as we had left late. Great group of guys who stay at a cabin across the lake and ran the park office at the Bell Lake launch (a job I wish I had). We had just enough time to get to a site that they happened to know was still available before dark.
Bell lake was a pretty open lake that had some boat traffic on it, however it did have a nice view of the La Cloche mountain range. At the most north end of Three Mile Lake there is a 30m lift over into Balsam Lake that used to be used as a logging tramway. As you go through Three Mile Lake to get into Balsam Lake it begins to get more remote. Once you get into Balsam, there were many areas with heavy lily pad coverage and a few spots that proved to be very good for fishing!
There is a small lift over going from Balsam into Deacon Lake (seen at 1:45 in video). Deacon was not the greatest for swimming, it is a little bit swampy although we still forced ourselves to go for a quick dip. The fishing on this lake wasn't spectacular but we did have some luck with a few small mouth bass. I did catch a really small bass using a top water lure and you can watch him hit it at 1:32. Balsam Lake however, had great swimming and fishing on it, and we were able to jump into the water from shore. From here we were able to do a day trip to David Lake which was absolutely beautiful. The portage from Balsam Lake into David Lake was only about 665m and made for a great day trip spot. Swimming was great and you should note that this is a lake that you cannot fish on. The clear blue water was amazing. You can see the cliff jumping in the video at 1:50.
Getting from Balsam Lake to Harry Lake can prove to be a bit difficult but is well worth it for the fishing and swimming. Along the northeastern shore of Balsam Lake is a heavy lily pad/marsh area that you must paddle along the left shore quite a ways before seeing the very hidden portage sign. At this point there is a 400m portage that will take you into Pike Lake. This lake proved fairly difficult to get through as it was very swampy. It seamed there were large floating piles of mud that we would frequently get caught on and would force us to have a very windy path to the end of the lake. Here there was another portage about 705m in length taking you into Harry Lake. If you are doing a trip to Harry Lake and back out to Balsam again, I would recommend trying to stay 2 nights. It was a lot of effort to get into this spot and we all wished we could have stayed longer as the fishing and swimming were amazing. While swimming off our island site we happened to have a massive snapping turtle join the party but he wasn't looking to come after us. The last section of my video shows the fishing on Harry Lake (2:06 - 2:25).
I would highly recommend a trip to Killarney. One thing that we were unable to do, but plan to do on our next trip would be to hike the La Cloche Mountains. There is a hike to a section called "Silver Peak" and another hike to "The Crack" that are both great hikes from what we have been told. This mountain range is over 3.5 billion years old and used to be higher than today's Rocky Mountains. Not quite as high anymore but it still offers a stunning view of Killarney Provincial Park.