Distance hiked: 22.4km
Location: Sleeping Giant Provincial Park, Ontario
Date: June 30, 2020
Sleeping Giant Provincial Park gets its name from a great land formation that when viewed from Thunder Bay, resembles a giant lying on its back. And it just so happens that there is a hiking trail in the park that leads to the top of the giant. Naturally it is reputed to provide some of the best views of Lake Superior.
To get to the Top of the Giant Trail, you have to first hike along the South Kabeyun Trail for about 8km. The entire Kabeyun Trail spans across 37km of the park and many other hiking trails branch off from it. The portion of the trail that leads to the Top of the Giant Trial is relatively flat and some people even bike this part to shave off 16km (round trip) from the hike. The trailhead is located just off of Highway 587 near the Silver Islet Township.
After the first 800m along the South Kabeyun Trail, there is a detour along the Sea Lion Trail (800m round trip, rated moderate). The trail is a bit rugged. It crosses over an outcrop and leads to the edge of a cliff, overlooking an arch on Lake Superior. There are a couple of interpretive signs that provide more information on the geology of the area.
The Sea Lion is a diabase dyke that has been left behind after the sedimentary rocks eroded away. This landmark used to resemble a lion sitting on its haunches looking out into the bay, but over time, the lion’s head fell off. Someday the arch will eventually collapse as well.
We continued along the South Kabeyun Trail and took another short detour along the Tee Harbour Trail (800m round trip). There’s a few backcountry campsites here with a small seating area of logs along the shore of Lake Superior. Seemed like the perfect place to take a break.
From the Tee Harbour Junction, we continued hiking along the Kabeyun Trail to the South Talus Lake Trail Junction. There’s a bike rack here as the terrain becomes progressively more challenging at this point. We hiked along part of the Talus Lake Trail to reach the trailhead for the Top of the Giant Trail (6.6km round trip, rated difficult).
At this point the trail begins the climb up one of the tallest cliffs in Ontario. The “top of the stairs” is easily the most challenging portion of the trail. It’s a gruelling 1.2km vertical ascent up the cliff, but there are a series of wooden and stone steps, which helped with the climb. There are also some pretty spectacular views along the way, which provided great motivation and a good excuse to stop and take a (break and a) picture.
From the top of the stairs, it’s another 1.2km to the Tee Harbour Lookout. The trail is (thankfully) relatively flat, winds through the forest, and leads to a stunningly scenic lookout over Lake Superior.
From there it’s a short push to get to the Gorge Lookout, which marks the end of the trail (and the best view in the park). We took a break here to eat our lunch and admire the views before heading back.
We hiked back the same way we came in, making plenty of stops along the way. It was the perfect day to complete the hike as the weather was fabulous. In the end, it took us just over seven hours to hike the Top of the Giant Trail.
Afterwards we drove back to the Marie Louise Lake Campground in Sleeping Giant to go for a swim and wash away all the sweat and bug spray.
My progress on the 52 Hike Challenge can be found here