Hike #27: Top of the Giant Trail


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

33 thoughts on “Hike #27: Top of the Giant Trail

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      The area around Thunder Bay is gorgeous. I guess it’s not that surprising that there are so many provincial parks nearby. I wish we could have spent more time exploring this area. But hey, who knows, if travel options continue to stay limited, returning to Thunder Bay may happen sooner rather than later. Thanks for reading.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      It helped that the terrain was relatively flat at the top of the giant and there was a lot of space to roam around. Otherwise I’m not sure I would have gotten too close to the edge of the gorge to take some pictures. The hike to the top was challenging given the distance, but it was well worth the effort (and the risk).

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks for your kind words. My pictures don’t even begin to do justice to how incredibly beautiful the views are at the top of the giant. It felt even more rewarding given that it was quite the hike to get there (and back).

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      The hike to the top of the giant was easily one of the highlights of our Northern Ontario road trip. It does take the full-day, but the terrain isn’t too challenging and the views along the way provide good motivation to keep going. I would highly recommend visiting Sleeping Giant and hiking to the top of the giant.

  1. Diana says:

    I feel like there are so many places named “Sleeping Giant” and some of them don’t really look like giants. I googled this one and – I must admit – I only vaguely see a giant. Regardless, I’m so enjoying the virtual tour of all these locations along the Canadian half of the Great Lakes!

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      We didn’t make it all the way up to Thunder Bay so we aren’t able to confirm whether the land formation does resemble a sleeping giant. But you’re right, looking at some google images, seems a bit of a stretch. Either way, the hike to the top sure felt like we were hiking up a giant cliff.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Sleeping Giant was easily one of the highlights from our Northern Ontario road trip. The views of Lake Superior from the top of the giant were some of the best. Glad we had fabulous weather! Thanks for reading.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      The view of the gorge at the end of the trail really was the highlight of the hike. Even though it was a rather lengthy hike, the great views of Lake Superior along the way provided great encouragement to continue upwards and onwards. Going for a swim was a nice way to wrap up the day.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Yes, someday. Hoping travel restrictions ease up. While it’s been lovely exploring more of my home province this summer, not sure I can tolerate the cold come winter. It would be nice to escape somewhere warmer.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Ha, probably not. While the hike up the cliff was a good cardio workout, the path was wide and didn’t stray dangerously close to the edge. The views from the top were well worth the effort. Thanks for reading.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      This trail was pretty much the inspiration for our Northern Ontario road trip. And it (and the views) did not disappoint. Hiking is one of my favourite things to do. Even more so now because of the pandemic. There really isn’t a lot else to do besides hiking, camping and taking a road trip. Thanks for reading.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Despite living in Ontario for my entire life, this summer was the first time I visited Lake Superior. I still can’t get over how beautiful it is. We would love to take a road trip around the entire lake, but will have to wait until the border opens up again.

  2. Ab says:

    Definitely on our wishlist to do when our son is a little older. Looks so amazing! We did the Sea Lion trail and it was great. The shimmering blue of the Lake Superior was quite mesmerizing to look at.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      This was such a fun hike even though it was lengthy. The final push to the top was challenging, but the gorgeous views of Lake Superior along the way provide good motivation to keep going (and a good excuse to take a picture and catch your breath). I’m convinced that travel options will remain limited in the foreseeable future and have started planning another Northern Ontario road trip for next summer. Hoping to return here and spend more time around the Thunder Bay area. You’ve also convinced me to buy an Ontario Parks Passport, which I plan to do at the start of next year and see how many patches and stickers I can collect in 2021!!

      • Ab says:

        I’m trying to imagine what that final push looks like in my head. I saw someone post that they did the hike with their 5 year old so I’m hoping my son can do this eventually. Maybe even next year if we want to torture ourselves. Lol. Yah, travel will be very limited I imagine. Quebec is a wonderful place to explore too if you haven’t done it.

      • WanderingCanadians says:

        We saw a few other families with kids attempt the hike. As long as you come prepared and know this is going to take the full day, you should be fine. It also helps to have nice weather. I don’t think I would have done this hike if it were raining. Hard pass. We were thinking of going to Quebec towards the beginning of December to do some snowshoeing and winter hiking. Currently planning out my itinerary now. There’s so many places to visit and never enough time! Take care.

      • Ab says:

        Snowshoeing sounds fun! Not sure if you had fall foliage plans for Quebec but it is gorgeous this time of year there too.

      • WanderingCanadians says:

        The fall is my favourite time to travel. Kids are back at school, people are back at work, and everything is just quieter. The days are (usually) still warm and the nights nice and cool. Unfortunately things are a bit busy at work at the moment and we’ve been told we can’t take time off until the end of October. Frown town. So Quebec in December it is. Hopefully. Cases have been surging in Ontario and Quebec, so we’re not sure whether our trip will be feasible.

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