Silver Peak is far from the highest point in this pathetically flat province where I live, but it is far and away one of the most mountainous. Rising up to a mere 543m or 1782 feet, Silver is about the same height as the CN tower, but far more interesting for those who simply love mountains of all sizes.
I hesitated adding this peak, but to me it is in every facet a mountain and is far and away the best or perhaps only example of a 'peak' in Ontario (at least south of the Sault); and believe me after living here in this 'vertically challenged' province for thirty years a spot like this is a gold mine. You can't spend much time hiking through the interior (especially the northern side) of the park and not get a sense of its truly mountainous terrain, and its alpine spirit. These peaks were once higher than the rockies and that spirit remains... abiding deep down in the aged quartzite.
Silver is the pinnacle of the La Cloche Mountains... its ridge is made up of four or five sub peaks... two of which could arguably be seen as peaks in their own right. It is here where one really gains a sense of the alpine spirit of this park, nestled away in a place where none would expect to find it. The world opens up and the long arm of the blue Ridge chains stretches westwards to the horizon. After Silver to the east the range abruptly ends and the forest stretch unbroken to the horizon... reminding us how fortunate we are to have this place so close to home. Killarney is a secret nestled away in the wilds of the Canadian Shield, there is nothing like this place anywhere nearby... with such open and exposed ridgelines and bands of open rock in an alpine setting... I marvel at it every time I am there... the next closest spot is an hour north of Sault Ste. Marie... and if thats the case might as well be driving to the 'dacks.
The peak is so named because of the silvery/white gleam the white quartzite gives off in the afternoon sunshine... which is a beautiful site to behold.
It is a popular destination for hikers often seeing dozens of visitors daily throughout the busy summer months, but busy here is clearly a 'relative' term. Killarney is a magical place where those who really love nature go to commune with rock and branch, wind and water. Truthfully though access is controlled fairly strictly on trips through the interior. I went three or four days without seeing another soul and have had the summit of Silver all to myself for hours on end. This being said though it is a popular destination and dozens can be found on the summit throughout the peak periods from mid spring to mid fall.
All routes are a walk up, but the views form the top are spectacular. From the top dozens of lakes other white peaks and the pristine forests all spread out below you. It is a great peak and a wonderful place to visit... easily my favourite place on earth.
Silver Peak is located within the boundaries of Killarney Provincial Park which is about 4.5-5 hours north of Toronto.
To get to the park from Toronto take highway 400 north for about 2 hours, highway 400 becomes highway 69 and you will continue along the highway for another two hours until you see signs for highway 637 to Killarney Provincial Park. Turn left onto #637 and after about 40 minutes you will be at the main George Lake entrance.
Access points such as Bell Lake and Johnnie Lake are before the main park center and wil be seen if one pays particular attention to the signs on the right hand side of the road.
The top of Silver Peak is reached via Silver Peak trail. From Bell Lake access point it is a 3km (1.8 mile) hike to Log Boom Lake (a park map and compass are useful here...especially the map). From Log Boom Lake it is a short hike to the western narrows of Bell Lake. It is here where you wil pick up the Silver Peak trail which runs about 6km to the top of the mountain.
From George Lake it is much more arduous to get to Silver Peak. There is a 100km trail that runs through the Parks interior. To get to the SIlver Peak trail head you must head east for 18-20km or so on the LaCloche Silhouette hiking trail (expect a solid 5-8 hours travel time) where it encounters the Silver Peak trail. From there it is about 3.5km to the top.
You can also make your way to the top from Norway Lake. Hike due north until you gain the main ridge of the LaCloche mountains; from there it is a 4.5km hike eastwards down valleys and climbing up onto higher points until you reach the summit. This is a slightly more intrepid path but is whole lot of fun and very rewarding
The park is officially open from Victoria Day (usually around May 20th) to the end of Thankgiving 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 Ontarioan 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 Silver 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 Silver Peak, 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 Silver Peak.
Camping is allowed within the park through sites at the main George Lake campground and interior sites. Interior sites can be found close to SIlver Peak itself though it is wise to book several months in advance.
For Park info call 1 705 287 2900 and to make reservations you can call
1 705 287 2800. It is about $10 per person per night for interior camping and around $15-18 per car at the main George Lake campgrounds.
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.
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.