For a last Canadian Shield blast before winter, take a quick drive to Killbear Provincial Park and go hiking on the easy park trails. Although the park officially closed mid-October, you can drive in, park your car, and hike the three trails any time. At this time of year, the fall colours really enhance the experience.
The three trails highlight the best of this unique and hauntingly beautiful strip of land that runs along the northern edge of Georgian Bay between Parry Sound and Killarney Provincial Park.
Dominated by massive pink rock and highlighted by windswept white pines, this area also features lagoons of water lilies, mixed forests, and sandy beaches. It’s an ecological hot spot where the southern forests meet the Shield, resulting in a great variety of plants, animals, and birds.
Six kilometres of easy trails
The six kilometres of easy hiking trails in Killbear Park take you up through the forests and along the lakeshore, over the rock, and along golden-sand beaches.
• Follow Lighthouse Trail (1 km.) to a 100-year-old lighthouse built on the pink rock, surrounded by brilliant-red sumac bushes.
• Lookout Point Trail (3.5 km.) leads you through the forest over wet marshy spots, over masses of twisted roots growing out of rocks, up to a high outcropping of rock for fantastic views of Parry Sound---the sound itself, not the town. The forest is absolutely crammed full of life. You’ll see old-growth beech trees, magnificent white pines, balsam firs, old cedars, maples, oak, and spruce. You’ll glimpse flocks of white-throated sparrows flitting among the trees, and dead tree trunks completely covered with holes from the drilling of Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers, a type of woodpecker. And you’ll be lucky to spot and touch fresh, white, velvety mushrooms growing out of tree trunks.
• Twin Points Trail (1.5 km.) takes you right across the picturesque pink rock. If you don’t feel like wandering randomly, keep your eye out for the trail signs.
For more information on Killbear, visit the Ontario Parks website: http://www.ontarioparks.com/english/killb-hiking.html