Hiking The Giant

Do you take your hiking seriously? These are the places to go.

Local hiking enthusiast Richard Boon provides a guide to hiking the Sleeping Giant, noting Ontario’s largest network of hiking trails is located in Sleeping Giant Provincial Park, a short drive outside of Thunder Bay.

Sleeping Giant Provincial Park

Sleeping Giant Provincial Park, near Thunder Bay, is the place to go in Northwest Ontario for anyone who takes their hiking seriously. 

The park, located on the Sibley Peninsula about an hour outside Thunder Bay, features more than 100 km (62 miles) of trails, giving it the longest trail system of any Provincial Park in Ontario

Whether you’re a beginner looking to gain a little experience, or you’re a seasoned hiker in search of new adventures, there is a trail that will suit your skill level and reward you with thrilling scenery, glimpses of wildlife, or hidden treasures such as secluded sandy beaches. 

Deer at Sleeping Giant 660

Wildlife abound...Deer grazing at entrance to Marie Louise Lake Campground

Top of the Giant Trail

Sea Lion at Sleeping Giant

The famous Sea Lion view atop the Giant

One of the most popular hikes is the Top of The Giant Trail.  This challenging hike takes you up a series of switchbacks to the top of the Sleeping Giant where the 360-degree view of the peninsula, Thunder Bay, Lake Superior and beyond is spectacular. This long, demanding 22-km (14 mile) adventure is only for experienced hikers who are in good shape.  Allow at least eight hours, but give yourself more time for side trips to the Sea Lion, which is just over one kilometre (.6 mile) from the start of the trail, and a lunch break 7 km from the trail head at Tee Harbour.  After descending from the Top of The Giant, you may even want to reward yourself with a cool dip in Lake Superior, from the sandy beach at Tee Harbour

Road to Sawyer Bay

If you are just getting started, and want an equally satisfying but less demanding hike, you may want to consider the 12-km (7-mile) round trip to Sawyer Bay.  This trail follows an old logging road and ridges, which means less drastic hills, but enough to get you conditioned for more challenging treks later.  Along the way you’ll catch unique glimpses of The Sleeping Giant from behind.  Watch for eagles and falcons closer to the cliffs.  You may also see evidence of wolves and bears but if you make a little noise you can avoid encountering them completely.  Depending on the time of day you arrive at Sawyer Bay, you can take a short break and consider tackling the steep, 1-km (.6 mile) climb to the head of the Sleeping Giant. From here you’ll get some awe inspiring views of Lake Superior and the Park.  If you choose not to attempt the climb, relax and enjoy the rocky beach.  Maybe even grab a few of the smooth stones as souvenirs of your visit. 

Perry Bay Sleeping  Giant Provincial Park 660

Waves of Lake Superior crash shore at Perry's Bay

The Back Country on Kabeyun Trail

For the hardy back country enthusiast, the Kabeyun Trail follows the rugged Lake Superior shoreline for 40 km (25 miles) starting or ending at the Kabeyun Trail Head or Thunder Bay Lookout. There are several beaches and coves that provide refreshing access to the lake and designated back country campsites where you can pitch your tent. 

Shorter Distances for Beginners

For anyone wanting to take it easy (beginners or young families) there are plenty of shorter, easier trails to hike during your stay that range from just 500 metres (547 yards) to several kilometres and allow you to see unique habitat, vegetation, wildlife and be inspired by the beauty of Lake Superior and the legendary Sleeping Giant.

About Richard Boon

Richard Boon is a Thunder Bay native who spends much of his spare time hiking and doing nature photography.  He is a past member and hike leader with the Thunder Bay Hiking Association and a former broadcaster..

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