Sleeping Giant Provincial Park is a popular destination for nature lovers, outdoor enthusiasts, and history buffs. Located on the Sibley Peninsula, about 75 km east of Thunder Bay, Ontario, the park covers 24,400 hectares of boreal forest, lakes, cliffs, and islands. The park is named after the Sleeping Giant, a rock formation that resembles a reclining human figure, which is visible from the city of Thunder Bay. The park offers a variety of activities and facilities for visitors, such as hiking, camping, paddling, skiing, fishing, wildlife viewing, and learning about the natural and cultural heritage of the area.
The park boasts over 100 km of hiking trails, ranging from easy to challenging, that showcase the diverse and scenic landscapes of the peninsula. Some of the most popular trails include:
Top of the Giant Trail: This 22 km round-trip trail leads to the highest point of the Sleeping Giant, at 225 meters above Lake Superior. The trail offers spectacular views of the lake and the surrounding islands, as well as the chance to see rare plants and animals that live on the cliffs.
Thunder Bay Lookout Trail: This 1 km trail takes visitors to a viewing platform that overlooks the city of Thunder Bay and the Sleeping Giant. The platform is accessible by car or by bike, and is a great spot to watch the sunset or the northern lights.
Sea Lion Trail: A 2.4 km round-trip hike to the Sea Lion, a stunning formation of diabase rock that has been eroded by the waves and the wind. Along the way, you can learn more about the geology of the area from the interpretive panels that explain how the Sea Lion was formed and why it is unique.
Sawyer Bay Trail: This 12 km round-trip trail follows the shoreline of Sawyer Bay, a large inlet of Lake Superior. The trail features scenic views of the water, rocky outcrops, and wetlands, as well as a variety of birds and wildlife.
The park offers two types of camping options: car camping and backcountry camping. Car camping is available at the Marie Louise Lake Campground, which has 200 campsites, some with electrical service, and others with lakefront access. The campground also has showers, laundry facilities, a playground, a boat launch, and a beach. Backcountry camping is available at 27 designated campsites, located in seven zones throughout the park. The backcountry campsites have fire pits, privies, and bear-proof lockers, and can be reserved online or by phone. Backcountry camping permits are required and must be displayed on the dash of the vehicle and carried by the camper.
Paddling is another way to enjoy the beauty and diversity of the park, whether on the calm waters of Marie Louise Lake or the vast expanse of Lake Superior. The park offers canoe, kayak, and paddleboard rentals at the Park Store, located in the Visitor Centre. You can also launch your own boat at the campground or at Silver Islet, a nearby cottage community with a historic silver mine. Paddlers can explore the shoreline of the Sibley Peninsula, where they can see the Sleeping Giant from a different perspective, as well as other geological features such as the Sea Lion, a natural arch of rock that juts out into the lake. Paddlers can also access some of the backcountry campsites along the coast, or venture further into the Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area, where they can find more islands, bays, and cliffs. Paddling on Lake Superior requires proper equipment, skills, and weather awareness, as the lake can change quickly and pose hazards.
The park is a haven for wildlife, with over 200 species of birds and mammals that inhabit the park. Some of the common wildlife sightings include deer, moose, fox, lynx, wolf, beaver, otter, and porcupine. The park also has rare and endangered species, such as the peregrine falcon, the bald eagle, the woodland caribou, and the eastern cougar. The park has several wildlife viewing platforms, interpretive signs, and guided walks that help visitors learn about the park’s wildlife and their habitats.
The park has a rich and diverse history, dating back to the prehistoric times, when the area was inhabited by the Anishinaabe people, who called the Sleeping Giant “Nanabijou”, a powerful spirit. The park also has traces of the fur trade, the logging industry, and the silver mining era, which left behind artifacts, buildings, and stories. The park has a visitor center that displays exhibits and videos about the natural and cultural history of the park, as well as a model of the Silver Islet Mine, which was one of the most profitable and challenging silver mines in Canadian history. The park also has a heritage program that offers guided tours, talks, and demonstrations that highlight the park’s heritage.
Winter is a wonderful time to visit Sleeping Giant Provincial Park, as it transforms into a snowy paradise with many activities to enjoy. Whether you are looking for a thrilling adventure or a relaxing escape, the park has something for you. You can ski on over 50 km of groomed trails for both classic and skate skiing, ranging from easy to challenging. You can also snowshoe on the park’s trails and explore the snow-covered forest, lakes, and cliffs. You can even try ice fishing on Marie Louise Lake or Lake Superior, with a valid Ontario fishing license.
Sleeping Giant Provincial Park is a natural wonderland on Lake Superior, that offers something for everyone. Whether it is hiking, camping, skiing, fishing, wildlife viewing, or heritage, the park has it all. The park is open year-round, and welcomes visitors to explore and enjoy its beauty and diversity.