Bell Lake to Carlyle Lake

CanadaOntarioGeorgian Bay coast
Submitter & Author Information
Route submitted by: 
Trip Date : 
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Additional Route Information
45 km
4 days
Loop Trip: 
Portage Information
No. of portages: 
Total Portage Distance: 
12915 m
Longest Portage: 
3160 m
Difficulty Ratings
River Travel: 
Not applicable
Lake Travel: 
Background Trip Info
Water Levels: 
Route Description
Technical Guide: 

Start at Bell Lake Parking Lot.
North and West through Bell Lake 3km
P 745m easy
1.2 km through marshy pond
P 200m from right bank
3.5 km along southern shore of David Lake
P 565m to Boundary Lake
2km around Point in lake to canoe camp site.
Retrace steps to David lake and proceed 2 km West
P 300m to chain of beaver ponds with easy leftovers
Proceed through beaver ponds 500m.
P 1.3km over hill. Seems longer.
3km West and South through Great Mountain Lake
P 60m easy to Little Mountain Lake
1km across Little Mountain Lake
P 950m to small pond in creek
P 950m to navigable Kirk Creek.
2km creek run with many liftovers and small portages
5km southward through three narrows lake.
P 395m to small pond
Cross small pond
P 3160m over South LaCloche Range
3km south and west through Killarney Lake
P 1440m over Killarney Ridge to Kakakise Lake
5km East through Kakakise Lake
P 940m to Carlyle Lake
500m east then 2km west to Parking lot.

Trip Journal/Log/Report/Diary: 

This trip was made August 10-14, 1998, but parts were retraced in 2001 with little change. Our party of four consisted of various levels of experience including novice in two medium weight canoes rented locally. Good equipment,
reasonable rates, good service. I have rented from several outfitters in this area and they all have been good experiences.Whenever I have been to Killarney it has been during low water situations in August.

Day 1
Bell Lake- Boundary Lake. Bell Lake, our put-in, is in the flat terrain of the northeastern part of Killarney. But within a kilometer our route turned west toward the more mountainous region with views of Silver Peak, the highest in the area. The first two portages are gentle and the paths are wide, so they are a good warmup for more difficult portages to come later in the trip. The marshy ponds in David Creek were still canoeable in extremely low water. At the western end of David Creek be on the lookout for the portage on the right hand side where it comes out on a flat rock 50m before the end of the pond. Many people miss this easy take out and find themselves hauling their boats over steep rocks at the far western end of the pond. David Lake has a few cabins on it which detract from the wilderness somewhat. I understand that they are slowly being eliminated. The portage to Boundary Lake is well marked but is moderately steep up and then down the other side. There are many blueberries in season. Boundary Lake has a very nice wilderness feel since there is only one canoe campsite there, if you have a reservation you can arrive at any time and know that it will be waiting there for you. We were on the water by 2pm, and made it into camp well before dark.

Day 2
After spending a worthwhile morning exploring Boundary Lake, we set off retracing the route into David Lake. Here we headed west to the narrow end of the lake and found another well marked portage in a muddy take out. The map indicates a 2945 meter portage to Great Mountain Lake, I have always found the beaver ponds canoeable even in low water, which eliminates much of the portage distance. The remaining portage of 1300 meters looks simple on the map, but it is deceptive, since it goes right over the top of a glacial ridge and is very steep for short distances in places. Once in Great Mountain Lake I have always been lucky to get the southern campsite which is great for four or six people and has a nice view of some beautiful orthoquartzite cliffs. Other sites on Great Mountain Lake are better for large groups.

Day 3

Great Mountain Lake layover. A nice place to swim, and Little Mountain Lake is a nice place to eat lunch. The cliffs and ridges offer some nice views. Even as far as the smokestacks of Sudbury. Good fishing is reported in Fish Lake a short portage north.

Day 4

Great Mountain Lake to Threenarrows Lake: Just an easy 60m portage from the south end of Great Mountain Lake is Little Mountain Lake, one of the most beautiful in the park, and the subject of Arthur Lismer`s "Bright Land". The 950m portage out of the south side was not well marked in 1998, but it begins at the lowest point along a high ridge. The portage decends gradually to a wide water of Kirk Creek. After this short voyage, 100m, the portage resumes its gradual terrain for 950m to a grassy put-in at Kirk Creek. The creek winds through meadows and rocks with occasional short portages and leftovers, but it is pleasant. Threenarrows Lake has been very low the last few years. In 1998 we were able to portage in the stream 100m to where we found shallow water and were able to continue through the northeast arm. In 2001, a very dry year, the park personnel recommended taking the route through York Lake, because the lake level was so low and the portage into Threenarrows directly was very difficult. Check conditions upon arrival at the park. Threenarrows Lake has dead standing trees, and is dark in color, not the beautiful blue that is common in the quartzite-bounded lakes, but it is long and a nice break from frequent portages in other parts of the park.

Day 5
From the southeast corner of a large bay this very long portage begins. The path is wide and well marked so it was easier than I had expected. It was also near the end of our trip so our packs were lighter and our bodies more conditioned. It might be a real challenge at the beginning of a trip. It first climbs to a small lake which serves as sort of a warm up. The main portage is 3160m and climbs 50m. After several rest breaks it eventually comes to an end at beautiful blue Killarney Lake. The route proceeds south through narrow channels of the lake and then east to a well marked portage. This 1440m portage was moderately difficult. It climbs somewhat steeply, then levels out for about 500m. The path is fairly narrow and difficult to follow in some places. Perhaps we were off the main path, but our route took us over what would be a waterfall in wet conditions. In the dry, it was a noisy difficult staircase of rock with the canoe banging on the rocks behind every few steps. I am still not sure if this was the trail or not. Kakakise is a dark lake, but there are nice views of waterfalls on the northern ridge. The presence of a private cabin and the owner`s little motorboat detracted from the wilderness feel. The final 940m portage was more difficult than expected due to muddy holes, or perhaps because it came at the end of a long day, or the realization that our trip was almost over. The northern end of Carlyle lake was pristine and pleasant. A good place for a final swim before going to the parking lot a 2km canoe away. We left a car at Carlyle to shuttle us back to Bell Lake. The canoe rental company agreed to pick up our boat at Carlyle Lake.Jim Turner

Maps Required
Other Maps: 
Killarney Provincial Park Map - shows all campsites, portage
Special Comments: 

Could add 14 km through Carlyle and Johnnie Lake with 300m portage to complete loopThe portage distance above include the 2,945 m portage between David and Great Mountain Lakes. On the trip described here, this was partially eliminated by P 300 m / paddling the creek / P 1300 m over the ridge.


Post date: Sat, 01/01/2000 - 07:00


May 2004 Water levels high

2945P All three beaver ponds held some water but not enough to bother canoeing

Kirk Creek waterlevel up for an easy paddle into the Northeast arm of Threenarrows

All Portages muddy with boardwalks (some even in the right places.)
The 3160P has a slight detour marked with yellow plastic blazes around a new beaver dam.
The 1440P into Kakakise does end with a walk down a waterfall in wet conditions.
The 940P from Kakakise has a steep couple of steps, quite slick when it rains.