Hike - Lighthouse Trail
||This trail begins on the east side of the entrance to Killarney Mountain Lodge
||5km (round trip)
||2 - 3hrs
||Rocks can be slippery when wet.
||The Lighthouse trail can be linked with the Tar Vat Bay Trail to
create a longer hike.
This trail is not a loop and hikers are to return following the same path in.
The Lighthouse trail provides hikers with scenic vistas of the open waters of Georgian Bay and its rugged pink granite shoreline. The trail will lead you through a mixed forest of pine, red maple and the occasional spruce. A short climb brings you to Mount East allowing for a dramatic view of the bay and far off islands. Further along you will have the opportunity to explore secluded coves of glacier polished shorelines and Killarney's picturesque lighthouse located on a rocky bluff. From this vantage point you will have the perfect opportunity to admire the unspoiled beauty of the north shore of Georgian Bay.
The trail is marked with arrows and flagging tape. The numbers on the posts corresponds with the numbers in this trail guide.
1. Look but Don't Touch
These fields, once used for agriculture, have laid fallow since the r.94o's. Looking around you will notice that sun loving shrubs such as: Osier dogwood (red bark), Speckled alder and Pin cherry (long, narrow leaves) have colonized this meadow area successfully and provide the necessary cover for more shade tolerant tree species to take root. The processes of natural succession will eventually culminate in the return of a mature forest in this area. Take note of the hawthorn shrub in front of you and its sharp thorns Many different animals pay a dear price to savor its fruits.
2. Last of the Giants
Lying in a forest region referred to as the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence, Killarney's relatively fertile lowland areas such as the one you are passing through have a diverse mix of coniferous and deciduous trees. The familiar red maple with its serrated edges, the compound leaved black ash and the soft five needled eastern white pine predominate. The white pine is the tallest tree in Eastern Canada, commonly reaching heights of 40 meters. Prized for its high quality lumber, many of Ontario's white pine forests have disappeared over the past two centuries. The white pine standing before you has survived the axe and provides a true sense of the majestic grandeur of this species.
3. Beware of Moose in the Area
With its distinctive white stripes, the striped maple or moose maple is easily recognizable. This shade tolerant species abounds in the undergrowth of Killarney's forests. Rarely exceeding 30 feet in growth, this species is actually classified as a shrub. Due to its accessibility and abundance the striped maple is an important staple in the diet of a Moose. Look closely for evidence of buds and leaves being browsed. Moose can weigh over 1000 pounds and require 5 to 7 kilograms of food each day.
4. The Sixth Great Lake
From this vantage point one can truly get a sense of the vastness of this body of water. Georgian Bay, comparable to the size of Lake Ontario, is often referred to as the Sixth Great Lake. Historically, the Bay played a significant role for early fur traders, acting as a middle ground for Fort William or what is now Thunder Bay and Montreal. The channel to your right (leading to Killarney) served as the route to Western Canada. Today this part of Georgian Bay with its unspoiled shoreline serves as a recreation and fishing mecca for thousands of tourists between the months of May and October.
5. Lift on the Rocks
Look closely at the surface of the rocks and you`ll notice a remarkable variety of black and green plant-life known as lichens. Some lichens such as the reindeer take the shape of miniature trees while others lie completely flat. This primitive form of plant life is composed of algae cells and fungus threads. Literally a marriage on the rocks! With a remarkable ability to store water and go dormant when conditions remain dry, lichens can thrive in the most inhospitable conditions. With extremely slow growth rates you are looking at plant-life hundreds to thousands of years old! By releasing small amounts of acids, lichens gradually breakdown rock surfaces thus allowing for other forms of vegetation to get a foothold.
6. Where did it come from?
Many of the rocks found on the shoreline, such as the pile in front of you, have been deposited here by glacial forces. With their tremendous power, glaciers break apart rocks, carrying them great distances as they progress southward. On their retreat these rocks termed Erratics are left behind on the pink granite. The silver coloured quartzite and the black volcanic diabase originated from the nearby La Cloche mountain range.
7. A Light in the Darkness
In front of you stands the Killarney East lighthouse built in 1866 and later reconstructed in 1909. It was originally operated by Killarney residents who would travel nightly by boat to light it. In the early 1980`s the lighthouse was updated to be fully automated as were all the other lighthouses on Georgian Bay, ending a chapter of Killarney's rich history.
The East Lighthouse can also be accessed by gravel road along Ontario St. This road can be in rough shape at times,and may have hikers traveling along the side - drive with caution!