10 Sublime Lakes In Killarney Provincial Park

Which will be your favourite?

Best Lakes In Killarney

Making a shortlist of Killarney Provincial Park’s finest lakes is no easy task. Over 50 dazzling blue lakes are nestled among the white quartzite ridges of the La Cloche Mountains, which edge right up to the pink granite coast of Georgian Bay in this spectacularly scenic park. Killarney’s rugged topography, vibrant landscapes and outstanding network of canoe routes make this iconic park a favourite destination for paddlers.

To create this list of the 10 best lakes in Killarney, we factored in each lake’s exceptional scenic value, its ease of access for paddlers, and what else you can see in the surrounding area. We also selected lakes with truly gorgeous campsites, so you can spend as much time soaking up those lakefront vistas as you like.

Man in straw hat stands in front of canoe at water's edge in front of small Killarney island
Enter a dreamscape on OSA Lake. Photo: Dean Heliotis

O.S.A. Lake

Considered by many to be the most beautiful lake in the whole park, O.S.A. Lake is also the true birthplace of Killarney Provincial Park. Formerly known as Trout Lake, this crystal-clear, blue-water jewel was renamed O.S.A. Lake in 1933 in recognition of the conservation efforts of the Ontario Society of Artists, including acclaimed Group of Seven painter A.Y. Jackson. Jackson led a letter-writing campaign that effectively halted the progress of the Spanish River Lumber Company, which had plans to cut down the soaring white pines that grew along the lake’s shores. Thanks to the continued lobbying efforts of the Society, Killarney finally became a provincial park in 1964.

Nearly a century later, O.S.A. Lake remains a focal point for many park visitors. Small islands dot the sapphire waters, which are cradled between the twin quartzite spines of Blue Ridge and Killarney Ridge. Readily accessible from the park’s main George Lake Access Point, O.S.A. Lake is an unforgettable day trip or overnight destination.

Pine-tree covered rocky island
Killarney Lake is one of the most iconic in the Park. Photo: Hailey Sonntag

Killarney Lake

Along with O.S.A. and George lakes, Killarney Lake rounds out the park’s three most iconic lakes. Happily, paddlers can combine a tour to all three on a single weekend trip. Bordered on all sides by the La Cloche Range, the white quartzite cliffs contrast strikingly with Killarney Lake’s indigo-turquoise waters. Basecamp at the lake’s south end for ready access to The Crack hiking trail, which climbs to the park’s most famous lookout.

Great Mountain Lake

Nestled in the heart of the Killarney wilderness and home to some of its finest wildlife (especially moose), Great Mountain Lake is a highlight of many of the park’s best multi-day canoe routes. It’s also one of the most remote and least-visited lakes in the park, thanks to its location in Killarney’s lightly travelled northern boundary region and the difficulty of the portages leading into it. With forested lowlands to the north and the steep white cliffs of the La Cloche Mountains on its south side, the lake almost seems to be hanging off the side of the mountain. All of this gives Great Mountain Lake a delicious, out-there feeling for experienced canoe trippers.

David Lake

Easily accessible from the Bell Lake Access Point on the east side of the park, David Lake is one of Killarney’s more popular destinations and perfectly situated for a paddle-and-hike trip to the park’s highest summit, Silver Peak. Lying at the base of the peak, this large lake is framed by spectacular rock formations and lush mixed forest.

A short trail on the south shore connects with the park’s long-distance La Cloche Silhouette backpacking route and the side trail to Silver Peak. Standing atop this lofty, bald summit, the views seem to stretch right across Killarney’s 645-square-kilometre wilderness and beyond, over the endless blue horizon of Georgian Bay. Plan for a three-day trip, base camping at one of the fine canoe sites on David Lake and allowing a day for the 10-km return hike to the peak.

  • Join MHO Adventures for a guided Killarney Fall Colours canoe-and-hike adventure. This beginner-friendly trip includes two nights of camping at David Lake and an ascent of Silver Peak to witness the autumn spectacle of blazing leaves, shimmering blue waters and brilliant white mountains.
  • Overhang Adventures offers guided and outfitted three- and four-day canoe and hiking trips into David Lake and Silver Peak, with camping on Bell Lake. Trip dates are available in summer and autumn.
Side of red canoe over extremely blue water
Nellie is one of the clearest lakes in the Park. Photo: Hailey Sonntag

Nellie Lake

Secreted away on the west side of the park, most paddlers bound for Nellie Lake begin their journey at the Widgawa Lodge Access Point. From here, allow at least three days to savour this stunning area, the crown jewel of which is Nellie Lake itself. This is one of the clearest lakes in the park, with 28 metres of underwater visibility. Depending on the light, the water beneath your canoe can appear totally transparent, luminous turquoise or emerald green. Reserve early to score one of the three campsites on this sublime lake.

Balsam Lake

Wildlife lovers and anglers know this twisting and turning lake in the quiet northeastern corner of the park hides plenty of surprises. Great blue herons, turtles, beavers, bass and pike make their homes in Balsam Lake’s cattail- and lily pad-filled wetlands. From here, short portages lead to even more remote fishing holes, including Deacon, Fox and Harry lakes. Balsam Lake is most easily reached from Killarney’s Bell Lake Access Point; a scattering of private campsites makes it a fine overnight or weekend destination.

  • Journey to Balsam Lake on a beginner-friendly, four-day guided canoe trip with The Quiet Guiding Company. We can’t think of a better place to practice the trip’s goals of mindfulness and reconnecting with nature.

Boundary Lake

For seclusion-seekers, it’s hard to beat Boundary Lake. This small, isolated lake lies just off David Lake and has a solitary campsite situated near the mouth of Kirk Creek—perfect for private wildlife-watching forays. Even better, you won’t have any unexpected visitors—the only way into and out of the lake is via a 520-metre portage.

Johnnie Lake

The easy accessibility of Johnnie Lake from Highway 637 doesn’t detract in the least from the picturesque beauty of this long and meandering lake. Paddlers can launch from Johnnie Lake, Carlyle Lake or Bell Lake access points, depending on the direction of travel and which part of the lake you want to explore first. Together with Carlyle Lake, paddlers can venture for miles into the park, making Johnnie Lake a superb destination for kayakers or canoeists looking to avoid portaging. Numerous peninsulas, bays and islands offer a fresh vista around every bend, while the lake’s clear, blue waters, graceful pines and pink granite shores frame what many agree is the park’s best view of Silver Peak.

Lookout over lake
Threenarrows lake was once three separate lakes. Photo: Hailey Sonntag

Threenarrows Lake

Sprawling across central Killarney like a great, watery hash mark, the various reaches of Threenarrows Lake were once actually three separate lakes. In 1900, logging operators built a wooden dam across Kirk Creek at the western end of the lake, causing water levels to rise by five metres and the three lakes to overflow into each other. This made it easier for loggers to float timber a greater distance, expanding their operations farther.

Today, the interconnected arms of Threenarrows Lake penetrate a landscape of mixed marshlands and mountains, creating myriad paddling and camping options—just be sure to leave ample time to find your campsite. Threenarrows lies at the top of a challenging four- to five-day loop from George Lake Access Point.

Peter Lake

Situated on the northern fringe of the park, Peter Lake is a perfect option for peak season travellers who want to escape the crowded access points and portage trails of Killarney’s better-known lakes. This gorgeous lake offers two campsites and is just a short portage from evocatively named Hideaway Lake. Peter Lake can be reached by a multi-day paddle-and-portage trip from Bell Lake Access Point. Alternatively, take a water taxi across vast Lake Panache to get there in just a few hours.

Planning your trip

Numerous access points allow visitors to enter the Killarney backcountry from the park’s south, west and north sides. We’ve highlighted some of the most commonly used access points below, along with outfitters and operators who can help turn your dream trip into a reality.

South side / Highway 637

  • Killarney Kanoes is located at Bell Lake Access Point. They offer shuttles, lightweight canoe rentals and complete canoe trip outfitting, including all the gear you need for a multi-day camping adventure in the park. This location is ideal for first-timers and is also accessible from Douthern Ontario via Parkbus public transit.
  • Killarney Outfitters is located a short drive west of the George Lake Access Point, which is also home to the park office, visitor centre and vehicle campground. They offer complete rentals and outfitting for canoeing, kayaking, paddleboarding and hiking in the park, as well as a water taxi service and trip planning assistance informed by decades of experience. This location is ideal for first-timers and is also accessible from Southern Ontario via Parkbus public transit.

West side / Highway 6

  • Widgawa Lodge & Outfitters serves as the main access point to the less travelled west side of Killarney Park. They offer complete canoe and kayak rentals and outfitting, as well as a water taxi service to and from various locations on the park boundary. Widgawa Lodge’s peaceful campground and cozy cabins also make an ideal start or end to your trip.

North side / Lake Panache

  • Penage Bay Marina provides access to Killarney’s least-visited lakes, on the park’s north side. It’s reached by way of Regional Road 55, off Hwy 17 west of Sudbury. From the marina, a water taxi service is available to any point on Lake Panache, limiting the time you’ll spend paddling this vast lake.

While in Killarney, Don’t Miss … 

  • The Friends of Killarney Provincial Park organizes Art in the Park events to unleash your creative spirit in the La Cloche Mountains.
  • Enjoy dockside dining at Killarney village’s famous Herbert Fisheries, rated as one of the top 10 fish and chip restaurants in Canada. Serving freshly caught Georgian Bay fish.
  • Treat yourself to a luxurious stay at Killarney Mountain Lodge where you can savour panoramic views of Georgian Bay.
  • Marvel at The Big Dipper, the world’s largest paddle at 107 feet long and 17 feet high, located on the grounds of Killarney Mountain Lodge. This gigantic canoe blade is the work of cross-Canada paddler, Mike Ranta, celebrating the 200th anniversary of the founding of Killarney village.

Find out for yourself which is the most beautiful lake in Killarney

There’s no other landscape in Ontario, or the world, like Killarney Provincial Park. Whether you are a first-time visitor or an experienced backcountry paddler searching for new waters, pick one (or more) of the amazing lakes on this list, and go now. Windswept pines, perfect rock points, stellar swimming and breathtaking vistas—these gorgeous Killarney Park lakes have it all.

About Virginia Marshall

Virginia Marshall is a freelance outdoor adventure writer, photographer and editor with roots in Muskoka and Lake Superior. Read her work in Adventure Kayak, Canoeroots, Rapid, Paddling Magazine and Backroad Mapbooks.

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