Killbear Provincial Park is a gorgeous - and HUGE - campground on the Eastern shore of Georgian Bay. Here are our thoughts on our stay there!
The park is located in the Parry Sound District, around 3 hours from the GTA. It’s a WHOLE lot of nature, just a reasonably short drive away.
Like many of the Provincial Parks along the shores of the Great Lakes, this one has stunning views of the lake, and rocky islands just off shore.
The park’s beaches are framed with rocky outcrops - perfect for spreading a blanket out on, for a fabulous view of the beautiful sunsets that Georgian Bay is known for.
It’s a great way to get away!
Unfortunately, that popularity can get in the way of getting a good site, so we booked our trip to start JUST after the Labour Day Long Weekend.
... and we were shocked to see how full the campground was, even by the end of our stay!
I guess we weren’t the only ones thinking “let’s avoid the crowds...”, LOL!
On a personal note:
We had to rush to get the bulk of our “must do / must see” list done the first day we arrived, as the weather called for rain that night, continuing for the remainder of our stay.
The rain didn’t end up arriving til our last day - and barely, at that - so we had a really pleasant stay. It was HOT the first few days, so we spent some quality time on the gorgeous beach in our campground.
Ahhh... it was great!
Anyway, let us tell you all about it!
Campground Name: Killbear Provincial Park
Address: 35 Eddie Ramsay Parkway Nobel, ON P0G 1G0
Price Ontario Provincial Parks uses a pricing matrix across all their parks. See 2023 Camping Fees for more details.
Reservations: Ontario Parks Reservations
Campground Amenities & Info
This is a HUGE park. Between the size and the date of our arrival - the day after labour day - I was shocked at how clean and well maintained it was.
We were actually bracing for some degree of disaster, given all the stories we’ve heard about long weekend campers!
Anyway, LOTS to talk about here, so let’s get started.
As always, booking online went quickly and easily, no problems at all to report. Check in was also quick and easy, once we figured out parking.
When we pulled into the parking lot in front of the office, there was a backlog of campers, with people blocking each other in. Kind of a mess.
The thing is, if you go just past the building to the left, there’s a large parking lot with plenty of room for RVs.
The more you know!
Checking was inside a wide open building, with sneeze guards for the employees doing registration.
You really need two maps to get through - the one that’s an overview of the entire park, then the newspaper type map they offer at the front office, with individual maps for each campground.
It’s just way too big to fit everything on a single map.
The maps were accurate though, so no complaints there.
This is a VERY dark park at night, so if you can get out from under the tree cover, it would make for fantastic star gazing on clear nights.
In terms of cell reception, we were pleasantly surprised to have at least decent coverage pretty much everywhere in the park. I lost reception for a minute or two in a couple places along the main road, that’s about it.
We were actually able to stream an episode of Reservation Dogs, with only one quick buffering delay part way. Impressive!
Entertainment and Activity
With the size and landscape of the park, it’s no surprise that there are plenty of things to do.
Here’s some info on the popular activity options:
Hiking & Cycling
There are 4 official trails throughout the park, with 3 being hiking trails. The final trail is suitable for jogging, cycling, etc.
Twin Point Trail
Twin Points Trail is a 1.6 km loop, located in the day use area of the park. It was about a 35 minute walk for us - mostly easy trail, with some areas that were leaning more towards being moderate hike conditions.
Of the 3 hiking trails, it’s the easiest one.
This trail winded through a bunch of woods, over some large, flat rock areas, and had a few spectacular views of Georgian Bay along the way.
The trail was NOT particularly clear in those areas, so it’s helpful if you have some sort of mapping app that shows your progress along the trail, to know where you are and where you’re going.
Lighthouse Point Trail
This 800 m loop is labeled as being “easy to moderate”, but I’d definitely side-eye the inclusion of “easy”, there. It’s definitely a workout.
It takes you across some pretty wild terrain, navigating over roots, rocks, hills, etc along the tip of Killbear Point (originally known as “mukwa nayoshing”, btw);
I’m glad we took the trail in the direction we did - starting out towards the right from the parking lot, hitting the hardest terrain first.
As we came to the halfway point of the walk - in that direction - the terrain became so much easier, headed back to the car.
Had we gone the other direction, I would have been lulled into a false sense of security with the first half of the trail fitting that “easy” description... then wondering WTF was going on as we came across the wild parts of the trail, after passing the rocky point.
Also, there were sections of trail where we had to go UP some rocks... and I can’t imagine having to go down them, the other way.
I let hubris - and exhaustion at the end of a long day - get in the way, and walked it in flip flops. Yes, they were Archies flip flops (the walk would have destroyed other flip flops.. And my feet along with them!), but still.
Still not entirely sure if completing that walk in flip flops gets my badass points... or dumbass points.
Lookout Point Trail
Lookout Point trail is a 3.5 km loop, starting next to the entrance to the Blind Bay campground.
Unfortunately, weather and time got in the way of us doing this hike, which is advertised as “moderate”.
The description for it says that it takes you out through forests and rock outcrops, ending with a fantastic view of Georgian Bay.
Obviously I can’t speak from experience, but - given how their versions of “easy” and “moderate” have looked so far... I’d imagine this one to be a relatively challenging hike.
This is a 6 km linear trail that runs along the main road, from the park entrance all the way out to lighthouse point on the other side of the park. (6 km from end to end, so 12 km there-and-back.)
This is the only trail that is also touted as a bike trail - the ⅔ of the other trails that we tried absolutely wouldn’t have been suitable for biking. (And I’d assume that Lookout Point Trail is similarly unsuitable for bikes!)
There are numerous sand beaches throughout Killbear Provincial Park - well, some sandy beaches, and some are more rocky.
There’s at least one beach - or at least access to beach- at each of the camp grounds, as well as at the day-use area.
The biggest beach is shared between Kilcoursie, Beaver Dams, and the day use area - 2 km of Georgian Bay shoreline.
Though it was after labour day by the time we visited Killbear, we had a couple days of gorgeous beach to enjoy.
It was wild to wade out, butt-deep into Lake Huron, and look back at the shore to admire the start of the fall leaves changing colour!
Killbear Provincial Park is an amazing destination for amateur and professional photographers alike.
The rocky shoreline is ripe with photographic gold - just amazing views in all directions. There are different types of forest all throughout the park, each with something interesting to photograph.
Unfortunately, the tree is declining. Several years ago, media reported that death was looming for the tree.
During our visit, the tree was supported with a couple of poles, and included a sign talking about the need for support - and asking people not to climb on the tree.
The area to the left of the off-leash dog park is facing directly north, with an amazing lake view.
Additionally, there’s a boat launch in Blind Bay with a great north-facing view of the lake.
Unfortunately, it’s closed the day after Labour day - which rules it out for some of the prime Northern Lights season!
The literature for Killbear Park made mention of it being a great spot for boating, but I feel like it needs a GIGANTIC asterisk on that point.
Yes, the location - in terms of the shoreline, surrounding islands, etc - is an ideal place to go boating.
It’s gorgeous, and many people were taking advantage of the boating opportunities during our stay, with sailboats, yachts, and various other vessels anchored just off shore.
There were even a few Seadoo riders out there, the first night.
The thing is, there are two boat launches in the park, and neither one of them are anything I’d want to launch anything but the smallest of watercraft from.
The first we saw - in Blind Bay - requires navigating a ton of twists and tight turns over narrow camp ground roads - We couldn’t imagine taking any kind of trailer through there.
Once we got to the launch, there was a sign advising people to investigate the launch before using it - it didn’t look like it had been used as a boat launch in a very long time.
If you can portage a canoe yourself, go for it... otherwise, if you’re looking to go boating in the area, I’d recommend looking to external marinas and boat launches.
As for fishing, you can fish for various species - smallmouth bass, lake trout, walleye, perch, pike etc - in the area.
Kilcoursie Bay is a lake trout sanctuary year round, though - so lake trout fishing is limited to the other side of the peninsula, in the Big Sound waters.
Like all of the provincial parks we’ve visited to date, Killbear Provincial Park has a “Discovery Program” to encourage people to learn about nature.
There’s an interpretive centre near the large ampitheatre, where evening programs and concerts are held from time to time.
This programming can be found daily during the summer, and sporadically in the spring and fall.
I’m going to be honest, I don’t think I saw a single bird the entire time we stayed at Killbear park - just a couple of chipmunks and a water snake.
That said, apparently they do get a variety of birds throughout the park - the bird watchers tend to flock (HAH!) to the hiking trails to see them.
Bald Eagles apparently stop by from late September until January or so - we missed that window by a few weeks, though!
Anyway, birding checklists are available at the visitor center.
A Note on Wildlife
The park is in bear country, and is known for black bears - so you’ll want to be careful when you’re out and about, and when dealing with food storage.
Additionally, Killbear Provincial Park is known for SNAKES.
11 species of snakes, including Massassauga Rattlesnakes - Ontario’s only venomous snake.
So unless you’re looking for a bad time, you’ll definitely want to keep an eye - and ears - on alert for them.
Niantic Games & Geocaching
There are a handful of Ingress Portals / Pokestops / Gyms in the park, but they’re few and FAR between.
We visited during a Pokemon Go event - so our observation may be skewed by that - but there were a TON of Pokemon spawns, all through the park.
There was also good enough cell phone reception (Rogers) to take advantage of those spawns, and that sweet, sweet 4x catch XP.
Again though - the plentiful spawns could have been on account of the event - not sure.
In terms of Geocaching, there’s only one cache in the park - Lighthouse Trail - with a second one just outside of the park.
Comfort Stations & Toilets
With the exception of Granite Saddle, every campground has a comfort station with flush toilets, showers, and laundry facilities.
There are also toilets located throughout the campgrounds and day use area - at least two per, though some campgrounds have several.
Unlike the few provincial parks we’ve visited so far, Killbear doesn’t have its park store in the park offices / near the park entrance.
Instead, it’s well within the park, inside the visitor center.
This store carries some souvenirs and clothing, books, artwork, and fancier, park-branded treats like chocolate caramels and maple syrup.
While it does have the park stickers, patches, etc... it doesn’t have the same sort of camping gear, snacks, ice, etc like other parks we’ve been to.
They recommend visiting local stores - outside of the park - or going to the town of Parry Sound for things like ice and groceries.
There’s a fairly large visitor centre located deep within the park, with 1000 square metres of exhibit space.
The exhibit space features life size moose, bear, owl, and other displays about the nature and history of the park and surrounding area.
On the second floor, there’s a viewing platform that looks out towards Georgian Bay, with gorgeous views.
We didn’t see firewood available / advertised at the park store, but there were several small buildings throughout the park for selling firewood.
Unfortunately, none of them seemed to be operational during our stay.
EV Charging Station
Although we didn’t see it, apparently Killbear Provincial park has a single charging station for electric vehicles - that surprised us!
Per the park website, it’s a FLO model, level 2 charger, and all vehicles can use it.
Picnic Facilities & Day Use Area
Killbear park has a single picnic shelter, located in the day use area - reservations should be made with the park directly.
Beyond that, the day use area has a beach with a swimming area - it’s the far end of the long, horse shoe shaped beach shared with the Kilcoursie Bay, Beaver Dams, and Georgian camp grounds.
If you’re looking for a fantastic place to have a picnic, though, I’d skip the day use area entirely and head over to the parking lot for the off-leash dog park, in the group camping area.
There’s a trail entry - on the side of parking lot perpendicular to the one with the dog entrance, to the left. It’s a very short trail to an area that opens out onto Georgian Bay.
There are at least two picnic tables down there, with AMAZING views.
If it weren’t for the threat of rain for most of the trip, I would have been making the case for having lunch at a picnic table by the shore every day.
Absolutely spectacular - and there was no one there, any of the times we went!
I don’t know if it’s just because we were there slightly off-season, but it definitely felt like a hidden gem.
There are several different campground areas throughout the park, with different restrictions and vibes.
Some have power, some don’t.
None have water, but there are water taps located throughout the park, as well as a couple of fill stations near the front entrance.
Additionally, none have sewer hookups, but there’s a dump station near the front entry of the park, with 2 dump platforms in it, as well as 3 filling platforms.
Most sites were back in, though we saw a handful of pull through sites in the Beaver Dams campground.
Pretty much every campground seems to either have its own beach or access to another campground’s beach, with some having access to more than one beach.
So far as we could tell, everything seemed tidy and well maintained, with most sites having some degree of privacy.
In general, the camp sites closer to the water don’t have the best privacy... but I’d 100% trade privacy for those VIEWS. We had a bit of jealousy going on, LOL.
Anyway, some additional details on the campgrounds. In order from the park entry to the furthest campground, along the main road:
Kilcoursie Bay Campground
The one we stayed at. All are electrical sites, and every site is a really short walk from the beach.
We were about as far away from the beach as you can get, and it was only about 5 minutes - we one of us walking slowly.
Beaver Dams Campground
A huge campground next to the Kilcoursie Bay campground, this one is the home of Sunset Rock and the famous Killbear Tree.
Most of the sites are electrical, with a loop of around 20 non-electric sites right near sunset rock.
Some of the sites are very close to the water, a bunch of them would definitely be a bit of a hike.
Radio free campground, mix of electric and non-electric sites.
We didn’t actually see where the beach access was for this one, but - looking at the map - I’m guessing they share the small beach over by Harold Point.
So if the beach is the main draw for you, this one wouldn’t be my first choice.
Blind Bay Campground
This campground is exclusively non-electric and has a shorter season - they were closing it up for the season just as we finished doing a quick drive through, the day after Labour Day.
We drove through it - not knowing it was about to close - because we wanted to suss out its potential as a viewing site, should the Northern Lights hit during our stay.
I have to say - it was incredibly frustrating to navigate, and that was with one person reading the map off to the driver. I can’t imagine trying to get around it, solo.
This campground also has the distinction of being home to the most sketchy boat launch I’ve ever seen in my life!
As a note: the map has an icon for “comfort station with showers and laundry” in this campground... with text saying “no showers or laundry”.
Harold Point Campground
Radio free, mix of non-electric and electric sites. The electrical site loop one is the closest to the amphitheatre, and has a small beach at one end of the long, narrow loop of camp sites.
The larger, more spread out campground of non-electric sites has access to 2 other beaches - a bit on the smaller side, but still nice. Really scenic!
Granite Saddle Campground
Radio free, non-electric campground.
Basically: campsites on either side of one road, which ends in a couple small loops of sites situated between 2 small beaches.
A set of 3 group camp sites located near the off leash dog park. These are for tents only, with a big sign banning RVs and trailers.
Site number 1501 would be AMAZING for early risers - the way the light hit that campsite at sunrise was amazing!
Lighthouse Point Campground
Radio free, a mix of electric and non-electric sites - about half and half, in distinct wings.
This campground has a boat launch, but I wouldn’t plan your trip around that. See the boating section - above - for more details!
The good: All comfort stations are designated as being barrier free, and the park has 9 wheelchair accessible camp sites.
Those barrier free camp sites are located in Kilcoursie Bay (3, all electric sites), Beaver Dams (2, both electric), Georgian (2, both non-electric), Harold Point (1, electric), and Lighthouse Point (1, electric).
That said, you’ll definitely need a car to get around if you have any mobility issues - it’s a huge, very spread out park.
In terms of the trails, none of the ones we checked out are wheelchair accessible, and I wouldn’t recommend using any of them if you’re relying on any kind of mobility aid.
The one designated as “easy” - Twin Point - had some weird terrain to get over - large rocks, uneven ground, etc.
The Lighthouse Point one was designated as “easy to moderate”, but it was definitely moderate to ... almost difficult.
That said, there’s a long 6 km trail that runs the length of the park. They advertise it as being good for cycling and jogging, so I’m guessing it’s a lot more flat - it looked it from the road - and possibly paved.
We didn’t get around to getting a closer look, sorry about that!
Pets are allowed, and there are two areas that allow dogs - an off-leash area in the group camping section, and an on-leash area in the day use area by the front of the park.
Big caveat: We didn’t actually see the on-leash area despite walking right past it on the trail, and the off-leash area was a bit of a hike to get to - it felt like almost half a km to get there from the parking.
It was relatively rough terrain to get there - hilly, big rocks, etc - so it may have been shorter.
Definitely *felt* like a weird amount of effort to get there - the dog areas in every other park we’ve been to have been really close to parking / etc, and easy to get to.
Between that and the weirdness with the on leash area, it doesn’t feel super hospitable to dogs.
We’re not dog owners, though, so take that assessment with a grain of salt.
The car camping sites all seem big enough to accommodate an RV / trailer plus an additional car.
There are a bunch of small parking lots throughout the park, with larger parking lots at the main attractions (Day use, visitor center, amphitheatre, trail heads, etc).
The parking at sunset rock is fairly small and awkward though - if you’re driving there on a nice day, get there early!
In our opinion, Killbear is definitely the kind of campground you go to with the expectation of holing up there for a bit.
It’s a bit of a drive to Parry Sound - about half an hour by car - and pretty secluded.
We didn’t venture outside of the park during our stay.
Killbear Provincial Park is a GORGEOUS campground and park, with a lot going for it - we can totally see why it’s such a popular spot, even after Labour day!
We’re definitely going to have to plan another trip for a bit later in the season, as I’d love to see it in the height of fall colours season.
The views are amazing as it is, I bet it’s absolutely spectacular when the leaves change.
We had a great time, and barely noticed other campers, even with as full as the campground was / close proximity of the other camp sites.
The only real strike against it is its size and difficulty to navigate.
Overall, we loved it!
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