The Mind-Blowing Beauty of the Chikanishing Trail: Killarney Provincial Park, Part 1

The Chikanishing Trail was a complete surprise, both in the sense that we didn’t have a plan to hike it and that it ended up being one of the best hikes we did all summer. Having arrived at the tip of the peninsula a couple hours earlier than planned we asked our camp hosts for a recommendation for a short hike along the water as opposed to an inland trail; this one fit the bill and so off we went.

Though the loop trail is only 2.6km long, we spent 3 hours – and walked a good bit more than the distance advertised. We began following the trail from the parking area across some exposed rock punctuated by pines but were soon directed down to the bank of Chikanishing Creek where we caught our first glimpse of the Collins Inlet. As we paralleled the creek the trail led us across huge expanses of pinkish granite with fantastic views over the water below. After briefly turning into a wooded stretch we ascended the backside of a dome of barren rock – and were immediately rewarded with jaw-dropping views of the windswept pine-studded peninsula and the islands beyond. We wandered freely here, photographing the white quartzite hills inland and the pinks and deep greens and blues before us before rejoining the trail.

A quick descent down the rock then brought us to shore where we quickly abandoned the official route in exchange for exploring the details of the coast line. I repeated my mistake of not bringing a bathing suit but with few people around I slid into the lake in my sports bra and shorts while Tom and Abby watched the small waves lap at the granite. Somewhere in this operation I killed my underwater camera BUT, I finally got a swim in.

After hopping out of the water (which was really more like ungracefully crawling up the slippery boulders) we continued our trek along the inlet, weaving around the pine and bushes that separated the expanses of pink rock until we reached a small peninsula with fantastic 270 degree-plus views. Though we believed the trail looped back from here we decided to continue walking along the water into the next small inlet, which terminated in a shallow marsh studded with small rocky outcroppings. We stopped to sit here too, enjoying the quiet and the saturated colors of such a beautiful place.

Once we decided to turn back it was a no-brainer for us that we’d just retrace our steps and get more shoreline-time rather than walk back through the forest: The chance to see more of the dark green windswept pines, cerulean water, and rosy granite of the rugged coastline was too tempting. I truly loved this trail and would have otherwise returned the next afternoon in a heartbeat, but I was assured there were other, equally-beautiful areas of coast to visit nearby. Still, if I’m ever visiting the area again I’ll be sure to pencil in a day here for some extended lake-gazing and a picnic.

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