La Cloche Silhouette Trail
Killarney Provincial Park, Ont.
Thousands of years ago, the La Cloche mountain range stood higher than the Rockies. Today the jagged and rugged landscape makes for some of the most exciting trail running in Eastern Canada.
The town of Killarney, Ont. is nestled on the rocky shore of Georgian Bay with a commanding view and East Coast feel. Just 10 kilometres inland, Killarney Provincial Park exudes the more expected landscape of the wild Canadian Shield imprinted into our collective Canadian consciousness by the Group of Seven artists in the last century.
Snaking around the park ’s interior is the La Cloche Silhouette Trail, a 78k loop, featuring some of the most rugged terrain in all of Eastern Canada. Parts of the trail can be seen by running an out-and-back portion, either heading in a clockwise or counter-clockwise direction. Both directions feature sections of ponds, marshes, bogs, small lakes and beautifully rugged rolling terrain, as well as distinctive views of the La Cloche Range in the distance. The white quartzite tops of the range are easily mistaken for snowcovered peaks, which can make you do a double-take on a hot summer day.
It is where these hills lay – in the middle 25k of the trail – that is the most beautiful, rugged and remote, but also the most rewarding. A fastpack is recommended for completing the entire trail, which involves running with light camping gear and doing it over a few days. Numerous campsites are dotted along the trail and need to be reserved in advance, so good trip planning is essential. There are ample water sources for treating, which allows for a lower pack weight.
The high points on the trail don’t rival large mountains in terms of elevation, but thousands of years ago the La Cloche mountain range stood taller than the Canadian Rockies do today. The impressiveness of these old hills is not now in their height, but in their character and setting. The extremely rocky footing of the steep ascents and descents present a difficult challenge at any rate.
From atop any of the higher hills, and especially from Silver Peak at 538 metres (which is attained from a short side trail), the views of the many bright blue lakes below make it obvious why canoeing is a popular option in the park.
Another highlight of the trail is a feature named The Crack, a deep traverse through a jumble of giant rock chunks that will have you on hands and knees scrambling in places. (The Crack Access Trail has recently been developed to allow users to access this impressive feature in just 3.8k from the trailhead parking lot on Highway 637.)
If you run the trail in summer you may be able to snack on blueberries that are found in large numbers – nature’s energy gel. There is also the potential of spotting abundant wildlife in this remote area. With the high level of bear activity, you would be wise
to bring bear spray and make yourself heard by t alking, singing or attaching bells to your gear.
The trail footing is very technical, ranging from mud, roots, fields of loose rock and f lat rock to scramble over, so quality trail running shoes are advised. For those who use hiking poles to run in the mountains, you might be well served to bring them along on this run as they will be beneficial i n certain sections.
If you’re looking for the ultimate challenge, the fastest known time for running the entire La Cloche Silhouette Trail was recorded by Eric Batty in 9:25:45 on Sept. 15, 2012.
» Above La Cloche Mountains from the Crack Trail summit » Opposite and below Peter Glassford during his record-setting run on the La Cloche Silhouette Trail of 12:25 with Eric Batty in 2011. The pair went on to set a new fastest known time of 9:25:45...