Cana­dian Trails

La Cloche Sil­hou­ette Trail

Canadian Running - - CONTENTS - By Der­rick Spaf­ford

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...

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