Awaken to the Wonders of the Sleeping Giant
Nestled on Sibley Peninsula, jutting out from the north shore of Lake Superior across from Thunder Bay, rests The Sleeping Giant, a formation of lowlands, cliffs, valleys and mesa-cuestas that make up one of Canada’s most popular natural attractions.
From a distance, it resembles a giant reclining on its back with hands folded on its chest and feet pointing up at the sky as the name suggests. But up close, you’ll find a park brimming with natural wonders, lush flora and fauna, scenic trails and beautiful share-worthy vistas.
Visitors enter the 244-square-kilometer Sleeping Giant Provincial Park from the east, turning off Highway 11 onto Pass Lake Road (Hwy. 587). From there, it’s just a short scenic drive, winding through forests, over rivers and past lakes to the park entrance.
Now it’s time to explore! And there are so many ways to do it with over 100 kilometers of scenic trails, guided nature walks, boating and cycling. The trails range from the half-kilometre Plantain Lane Trail, to the longest trail in the park, the 40-kilometre Kabeyun Trail. But perhaps the most popular is the Top of the Giant Trail (2.7 km), which rewards intrepid hikers with unforgettable panoramas from the Thunder Bay Lookout.
As you explore the incredible trails by hike or by bike, you’ll discover spectacular geological features, like the ‘Sea Lion’ and Tee Harbour, along with the park’s unique and diverse foliage. Plants found in the park include Ostrich Ferns, Large Leaf Asters, Thimbleberries, Eastern Cedar, White Pine and over 23 species of Orchids. If you’re lucky, you may even spot a Bog Adder's-Mouth or a small Round-Leaved Orchid, two of Ontario's rarest species.
The park’s boreal forests are also home to an abundance of wildlife, including white tailed dear, moose, wolf, fox, lynx, amphibians, reptiles and over 200 bird species, 75 of which are known to nest in the park. Magnolia Warblers, Black-Capped Chickadees and Winter Wrens all grace the forests with their melodic birdsongs. Avian enthusiasts will also want to check out the Thunder Cape Bird Observatory on the southern tip of the peninsula to touch base with local experts.
Because the park’s so vast, it’s a good idea to spend several days and take advantage of the park’s over 240 campsites. Ranging from backcountry camping, car camping, group camping and cottages—they can all be booked in advance through the Park Office.
From your campsite, it shouldn’t be far to the Sleeping Giant Visitor Centre, located in the Marie Louise Lake Campground. There you’ll find interactive exhibits showcasing the history of the Sibley Peninsula. One of the current exhibits features a model of the Silver Islet Mine, which ties in with the legend of the Sleeping Giant. According to a local lore, the Sleeping Giant is the Spirit of the Deep Sea Water, “Nanabijou”, who turned to stone when ‘the white men’ were given the location of the mine.
Another great way to experience Sleeping Giant Provincial Park is with a Hike ‘N Sail Lake Superior Adventure, an Ontario Signature Experience. Sail the world’s largest freshwater lake, from Welcome Islands to Sawyers Bay behind the Giant’s head. Then hit the trails for an epic hike through the wilderness.
However you choose to experience this legendary park, it’s sure to be an experience you’ll remember for years to come.