The Sleeping Giant Provincial Park has been welcoming guests from all over the world for about 80+ years at the time of writing. The park is located in the district of Thunder Bay in Ontario, which also happens to be the closest city to the park. However, the nearest community that can be found in the town of Sibley is the Pass Lake. Interestingly, the park was formerly named after the township of Sibley.
In other words, it was formerly known as the Sibley Provincial Park.
It is hard to picture anything other than Snorlax when you read the name: Sleeping Giant Provincial Park. While I can’t promise that you will find a fleet of Snorlax lying around in a vast stretch of greenery, I can assure you that there are plenty of concrete reasons to give the Sleeping Giant Provincial Park a shot.
So, without any further ado, let’s get into it!
10 Alluring Reasons to Visit Sleeping Giant Provincial Park
1. Mountain Biking
While hiking is one of the most favoured methods of exploration, let’s have a look at the next best thing, biking. There are 5 different park trails which allow visitors to explore on a bike, namely:
- South Kabeyun/Talus Lake Trail
- Sawyer Bay Trail
- Sawbill Lake Trail
- Burma Trail
- Pickerel Lake Trail
The South Kabeyun/Talus Lake Trail will take you about 2 hours to complete. The distance of the trail is roughly around 6.7 kilometres. It is an all-season trail and is of moderate difficulty. So, most riders will not have a lot of trouble navigating this trail at any time of the year.
Unlike the South Kabeyun Trail, the Sawyer Bay Trail is a Singletrack trail which spreads out over a distance of 5.9 kilometres. Despite being of a lesser length than the former trail, it takes about half an hour more to complete. Part of why it takes longer to complete is because of the ascent and descent factor.
Moving on, the Sawbill Lake Trail is only about 2 kilometres long and is more favourable for the beginners. May to October is the recommended time to use the trail. This trail provides hikers and bikers with access to the Sawbill Lake Trail, along with some views of the Thunder Mountain.
The Burma Trail is frequently visited by cross country skiers. However, it is not very popular amongst bikers who visit in the summer due to the accumulation of water on the trail following a rather snowy winter every single year. Also, it is a giant trail in itself due to it being 11.3 kilometres long and the fact that it passes through some of the highest hills makes it very difficult to navigate.
Part of the cross country ski network, the Pickerel Lake Trail passes through some of the most scenic stretches of the Sleeping Giant Provincial Park. You’ll find white pines aplenty along the trail, which is about 9.7 kilometres long but takes a mere 45 minutes to complete due to the trail being relatively plain.
2. Go Fish!
Sportfishing is allowed at the Sleeping Giant Provincial Park. Yellow perch and northern pike are among the most popular catches in the area. However, that is what you’ll get in the smaller lakes. In the bigger lakes like Marie Louise Lake, you might find yourself a walleye or a smallmouth bass.
However, do take note that bait fishing is prohibited at the parks.
3. Have a Swim
The Sleeping Giant Provincial Park is very popular for the people who like to swim. Among the popular places to have a dip are the Pounsford Lake, Lake Superior and the aforementioned Marie Louise Lake. If you do find yourself on the Kabeyun Hiking Trail, then do check out the natural bays that you’ll find in the area.
Mare Louise Lake is among the most preferred of all the names mentioned above, mainly because there is a public beach which is separated from the rest of the beach by floating buoys.
Lake Superior houses a beach at the Middlebrun Bay, from where visitors can indulge in a plunge into the pleasant waters of the lake.
One thing to keep in mind is the fact that lifeguards are not present on any of the beaches. So, visitors are required to take care of themselves, along with others at the beach who might require help. Hence, it’s a great place to be if you can swim.
Birdwatching is one of the signature attractions of the Sleeping Giant Provincial Park. Especially because over 200 bird species have been found in the park at some point in time. Of the 200, 75 species of birds are confirmed to be nesting in the Sleeping Giant Provincial Park.
There are plenty of common, as well as rare species of birds that you might come across in the park. Besides, the Sleeping Giant Provincial Park is very close to the Thunder Cape Bird Observatory which is located at the Southern end of the Sibley Peninsula. In other words, you’ll find the Thunder Cape Bird Observatory at the foot of the Sleeping Giant.
The birdwatching season, as one might assume, is during the summer months of April or May through October, the onset of autumn.
The purpose of the Thunder Cape Bird Observatory is to keep a track of the migrating bird species in the region. According to them, the popular species of birds that use the sleeping giant as a migratory route include Sharp-shinned Hawks, Northern Goshawk, Merlin, Peregrine Falcons, Boreal Chickadee, Black-backed, Three-toed woodpeckers.
Among the rarer species found at Thunder Cape are the scissor-tailed Flycatchers, Summer Tanagers, Western Tanagers, Pacific Loons, Harlequin Ducks, Yellow-billed Cuckoos, Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, Lark Buntings, and Townsend’s Solitaires.
As you can see, this place is an absolute paradise for those who love to have a quiet time with nature, having a glimpse of the feathered flyers that inhabit the area. If you’re interested in having an experience with birdwatching or are simply curious about the concept of it, then click here to check out their website.
5. Boating and Canoeing
If you’re the kind that’s passionate about taking a ride out on the water, then Sleeping Giant Provincial Park offers you a fair amount of water bodies to explore. While powerboats are only allowed on Marie Louise Lake, they should not exceed 10hp by any means.
To facilitate the launch and housing of boats, there is a small boat launch area in the Marie Louise Lake campground, which also functions as a docking area for the boats which are on the surface of the lake.
6. Learn through the discovery programs
The discovery programs that show visitors around the Sibley Peninsula and the area constituting the Sleeping Giant Provincial Park are offered by the visitor centre. Programs are usually held in the prime months of summer, July and August.
Spearheaded by Natural Heritage Leaders, visitors are given the knowledge of the natural and the cultural significance of the Sleeping Giant Provincial Park in addition to the wildlife viewing opportunities and the flora found in the region.
On top of all of that, the leaders offer a great amount of knowledge on the neighbouring water bodies, such as Lake Superior and the history of the Silver Islet mine amongst other tidbits of information that will increase your appreciation for the area.
7. Explore the Sleeping Giant and the Sea Lion
Like most of the other parks located in Canada, the Sleeping Giant Provincial Park has plenty of hiking trails. We’ll get to the details of the trails in just a while, but for now, let’s have a look at the main attraction of the park, the Sleeping Giant and the Sea Lion.
Hiking along the Head Trail, you’ll find a brilliant view of Lake Superior. The view from the Head Trail is simply unparalleled and is well worth checking out if you’re in the area.
Now, the Sleeping Giant is a volcanic rock formation that extends onto Lake Superior. According to the language of the first country people (the Ojibway), the Giant is known as the Nanabijou. The Nanabijou was cursed by the Sea Lion, the other main attraction of the park. The sea lion is known as the Nagochee in the local language.
The sleeping giant contains the spirit of the deep seawater, as is said in the legends of the Ojibway. As mentioned above, the spirit was cursed by the sea lion and was set in stone at the rock formation.
When you’re at the Sleeping Giant Provincial Park, you have the freedom of choosing to hike to the top of the Sleeping Giant. The Kabeyun Trail is where you should be headed if you want to hike to the top of the Giant. Although the trail can get a bit challenging at times, it is well worth the effort due to the brilliant views that you’ll come across on the trail.
Silver Islet on Highway 587 is where you should head if you want to have a glimpse of the sea lion. Park along the Kabeyun Trailhead and take a short walk to see one of the most brilliant features of the Sleeping Giant Provincial Park.
Winter is a brilliant time to explore Canada, especially since the landscape changes so much due to the heavy snowfall in most parts of Canada. The Sleeping Giant Provincial Park is a great spot for snowshoeing, ski hiking or cross-country skiing. Accommodation is also available in the park in winter, and we certainly recommend that you check it out if you’re in for the exploration.
In the same vein, Christmas in Canada is one of the best holiday experiences that you could have. Find out all the amazing things that make a Christmas in Canada an amazing experience by clicking here.
Camping is right up there with hiking as Canada’s favourite method of exploration. And it holds for the Sleeping Giant Provincial Park as well. Backcountry camping is the most rewarding camping experience that you can have at the Sleeping Giant Provincial Park.
Do note that park visitors will be needing a camping permit for spending the night at the Sleeping Giant Provincial Park. The permit can be obtained from the Marie Louise Lake Gatehouse.
Detailed maps of the park and the camping areas can be purchased at the Marie Louise Lake Visitor Centre and in the Marie Louise Lake Gatehouse. You can call the park and purchase the map before you head out for a camping experience as well.
Thre are about 200 campsites at the Marie Louise Lake Campground. About half of them have electricity. Also, a variety of different types of sites are available at the park. Group camping and vehicle camping spots are available at the park as well. The Rustic Cabin is the only formed of permanent roofed accommodation at the park, which sleeps six. Reservations can be made online or over the phone.
Capping off the list of brilliant ways to explore the Sleeping Giant Provincial Park are the hiking trails laid out throughout the stretches of the park. The trails are some of the most well maintained in all of Canada with regular brushing and cleaning taking place. Let’s have a look at the top three best hiking trails that you’ll find at the park.
- Kabeyun Trail, that leads to the top of the Sleeping Giant is easily the cream of the crop. The 22.7-kilometre long trail is of moderate difficulty and takes about 7 hours to complete.
- Sleeping Giant Head Trail is laden with beautiful flowers and makes for some very serene viewing. It is about 17 kilometres long and takes 6 hours to complete.
- Sawyer Bay Trail is one of the easier trails of the Sleeping Giant Provincial Park and is the more prefered one for beginners who have little experience in hiking. At about 12 kilometres long, the trail takes close to four hours to complete.
That does for the list of the top ten ways of exploring the Sleeping Giant Provincial Park, located on the Thunder Bay lookout. There’s plenty to explore, and a weekend away is the best method of going about your adventure since there is so much to explore at the park.