Sentinel Dome is located on the northeast shore of OSA Lake where Killarney Provincial Park was born. In the 1920’s and 30’s four members of Canada’s world famous Group of Seven painters frequently hiked, paddled and sketched throughout the region trying to ‘transfer the spirit of the land onto their sketch pads’. In 1931 when Group of Seven member AY Jackson learned that there were plans to log OSA Lake he quickly wrote to the Canadian government and urged them to preserve this beautiful region and with support from some of his contemporaries the plans were changed and the land was set aside.
OSA Lake which is named in honour of the Group of Seven; the acronym stands for Ontario Society of Artists, and is widely considered to be the most beautiful Lake in the Province (I disagree I happen to think Killarney Lake is the nicer) and in a province where there are approximately half a million lakes that is saying something.
Sentinel Dome is so named firstly because it stands like a silent sentinel watching over both OSA and Killarney Lakes and because of its shape. The Dome is located two peaks west of Split Face and is part of the blue Ridge mountains a sub range of the La Cloche range that dominates the region. It is the second highest peak in the park and the third highest point. False Peak is part of the long ridge that makes up Silver Peak and there is some debate as to whether it is a peak in its own right. It is the highest peak in the western section of the park and is one of 2 places where one can climb 1000 vertical feet, and one of VERY few places in Ontario where this can be done... and its no walk up a manicured ski slope.
The peak is about 1.5 kilometers long which also makes it one of the largest peaks in overall size as well. It also has a multi faceted personality and offers lots of excellent climbing opportunities for those looking for something other than a straightforward hike up to the summit. There are plenty of great opportunities for bouldering especially in the wedge (found on the northwest side of the peak), and the bluffs in the center and to the east also provide one with a plethora of free climbing opportunities. Ensure that you always remember to treat the rock with respect, there is a reason why none of the bluffs on this peak are bolted.
Killarney is designated a Wilderness park which means there is no motorized transport allowed in the interior and access is strictly controlled to keep human impact to a bare minimum. The view from the summit is extraordinary, perhaps the best in the park. One can see Baie Fine, Silver and Split Face Peak, The Crack, Georgian Bay, and even Manitoulin Island the largest freshwater Island in the world.
Killarney Provincial Park lies about 4.5-5 hours north of Toronto. Head North on Highway 400 (which turns into highway 69 about 75km north of Barrie), for about 3.5-4 hours, turn left onto highway 637 head west for about 45 minutes until you get to the park headquarters.
Killarney Outfitters is about 5 minutes further west where you can rent canoes and kayaks.
From the George Lake campground (here a park map is a definite asset) head east to Freeland Lake, take the 50m portage. Canoe Freeland Lake and then take the 500m portage to Killarney Lake. Navigate the bays of Killarney Lake until you get out into the main section… stick to the west side and when the lake opens up west to east head west into the narrows, again stick to the western shore where you will notice the portage sign. Take this final 500m portage and you will have arrived at OSA Lake. From OSA lake head due north the natural opening in the tree lies at the edge of the OSA Lake narrows.
On the northwestern shore lies the opening... you can pull your canoe/kayak onto the shore. After you enter the woods head left up the rocky slope where at the top you will encounter the first band of rock, head northwest and through the trees you will see the next rock field and from there the route is straightforward, and you have your pick of routes which is outlined on ‘The Wedge’ route for this peak.
The park is officially open from Victoria Day (usually around May 20th) to the end of Thanksgiving weekend (around October 10th). People are still free to visit the park in the off-season as the fees are reduced and often the park is free of the summer RV campers.
Permits can be picked up at the office at George Lake and if using other access points like Bell Lake of Johnnie Lake parking permits should be displayed in the front window of your vehicle.
Killarney is a very special park and any Ontarian who loves the out-of-doors will testify to that. It is designated a wilderness park which means there is no motorised transportation allowed within the parks interior. There are only two ways of getting around, on foot or by canoe that is it.
When To Climb
The best time of year to climb Sentinel Dome is between May and October with my perosnal favourites being the first few weeks of May and the last three weeks of September.
Out of season it is not too difficult a task to climb Sentinel Dome, though winters can be particularly nasty with snow falls in excess of several meters for the season and temps that often drop below -30 celsius. As long as you pack prepared for the season and always remember to bring warm gear it is no problem scaling this peak.
One other thing to take note of is what we call black fly season which lasts usually 4-6 weeks from Mid May to Mid June. They are small stinging flies that desend in clouds and make most of us wish for droves of mosquitoes... just thought I'd give fair warning
Camping is allowed within the park through sites at the main George Lake campground and interior sites. For Park info call 1 705 287 2900 and to make reservations you can call
1 705 287 2800. It is about $8 per person per night for interior camping and around $20-25 per car at the main George Lake campgrounds.
There are 5 canoe sites on OSA Lake and there are three that are relatively close on the western shore of Killarney Lake as well which I would also recommend.
The best thing to do is check the weather for the city of Sudbury or even better you could check the weather network and check the weather for the town of Killarney. The weather Network also has a regular Ontario Parks forecast that will give you current conditions for the park. You can check www.theweathernetwork.com and then check their parks forecast for Ontario.
Flora and Fauna
You can spot bald eagles, red tailed hawks and turkey vultures gliding on afternoon thermals.... or get buzzed by protective peregrines in a full stoop. It is possible to spot deer, moose, fox, wolves, blackbears, beaver, otters and many other types of animals.
Some interior sites have resident chipmunks that will readily eat from your hand... iKillarney as a wilderness park is an oasis of life where nature comes first and because of this the encounters here people have with animals though more frequent always leave indelible impressions