Three's a Charm in Ontario
Hikers will find plenty of trails, including those that scale the Sleeping Giant himself. A climb up this rocky soul is rather strenuous, but the vistas, some 750 feet above Lake Superior, are the highest in Ontario. Two main routes lead up the Giant, one to the Nanabijou Lookout and another to the Chimney Lookout. The Nanabijou is the easier of the two but still requires scaling a steep, rocky ridge. The trail begins below the cliff at Sawyer Bay. Sawyer Bay can be reached by taking the Sawbill Lake Trail to the connecting Sawyer Bay Trail. At Sawyer Bay, the Nanabijou Lookout is about one mile.
The Giant can also be approached from Lehtinen's Bay on the park's south shore. The trail here pushes over boulders and leads to the Giant's knees. From here, it is possible to see Isle Royale National Park looming in the vast waters of Lake Superior.
Eight nature trails, all fairly short, wind through the park and can be combined to make a longer day of walking:
Joe Creek Trail: This trail, slightly more than a mile long, wanders along Joe Creek past a series of small falls. There are a number of interpretive stations along the way with displays on the many varieties of wildflowers common to the area.
Milkshake Lake Trail: The Milkshake Lake Trail is a one-way, two-mile walk leading to the shores of Milkshake and Poundsford Lakes.
Piney Woods Hills Trail: The Piney Woods Trail is a 3/4-mile path through a pine forest that terminates at a lookout over Joeboy Lake. Try the trail early in the morning or around dusk, and look for moose at the lake.
Plantain Lane: A short 1/4-mile stretch of the abandoned Silver Islet road that leads to a bridge over Sibley Creek with nice views.
Ravine Lake Trail: This one-miler leads to two lookouts over Grassy Lake and the south shores of Sibley Peninsula. The trail then descends to the shore of Ravine Lake and returns through a pocket of cedars.
Sibley Creek Trail: Another one-mile trail. It goes through a forest and into a marshy area that provides good habitat for beaver, ducks, and moose.
Thunder Bay Bogs Trail: This trail educates hikers on the effects of the glaciers that once covered Ontario whose retreat resulted in today's boggy landscape. Length is one-half mile.
Wildlife Habitat Trail: This 1 1/4-mile trail leads through areas that have been altered to provide favorable habitat for moose.
Eight additional trails traverse the interior of Sleeping Giant Provincial Park:
Kabeyun Trail: Probably the most popular backpacking path in the park. The Kabeyun runs for 24 miles from the Thunder Bay Lookout off the Lake Marie Louise Scenic Drive and along the coast to Sawyer Bay. From Sawyer Bay, the trail moves around the Giant's body to its feet by Thunder Cape at the peninsula's southwest corner. Here, it goes up the body and winds along to Lehtinen's Bay. It then winds along Tee Harbour and finally ends at the Highway 587 trailhead. The Kabeyun is a bi-directional trail and can be broken into a day hike, overnighter, or a longer journey.
Burma Trail: The six-mile Burma Trail follows a path through untouched red and white pine forest. The trees occupy ledges that were too steep for loggers and thus survived. There are campsites at both ends of Holt Lake and on the south side of Norwegian Lake.
Gardner Lake Trail: This trail follows a logging road and is a good place to look for moose. The trail is just over one mile.
Sawbill Lake Trail: Another logging road that leads to the Sawyer Bay Trail and onwards up the Sleeping Giant. The trail can be accessed from the Lake Marie Louise Scenic Drive. The Sawbill is 1 1/2 miles long.
Sawyer Bay Trail: This 3.6-mile path is probably the most popular way to reach the Sleeping Giant. It too uses an old logging road.
Sifting Lake Trail: This 1.2-mile trail leads to the waters of Sifting Lake. It is a one-way hike with return via the same trail.
Talus Lake Trail: This 3 mile route winds between the Sleeping Giant and Thunder Mountain. It bypasses three lakes and leads to cliffs below a waterfall. There are campsites at Talus Lake and at the trail's intersection with the Kabeyun Trail.
Twinpine Lake Trail: The Twinpine connects the Kabeyun Trail with the Burma Trail. This 2.8-mile walk leads to Twinpine Lake, where campsites are available for backpackers.
The 20-km road around Marie Louise Lake is an extremely popular route for bicycling, with easy accessibility and views of the lake. More difficult riding lies along the Burma and Pickerel Lake Trails, the Sawyer Bay and Tee Harbour Trails, and the road from Pass Lake to Rita Lake.
Much of the activity in Sleeping Giant Park centers around Marie Louise Lake, circled by a scenic drive, where the park's 200 drive-in campsites are scattered about. Many of these sites are right on the lake and offer the opportunity to swim, fish, or canoe. The grounds are well kept, and most amenities are available.
There are more than 30 km of maintained cross-country skiing trails. The visitor center serves as a warming room.
How to Get There
From Highway 11/17, take Highway 587 down the Sibley Peninsula. Most of the 24-mile-long, six-mile-wide peninsula is part of Sleeping Giant Provincial Park.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication
Best Hotels in Ontario
Residence Inn Toronto Downtown/Entertainment District
The Ritz-Carlton, Toronto
The Westin Ottawa
Niagara Falls Marriott Fallsview Hotel & Spa