sleeping giant provincial park

Sleeping Giant Provincial Park might be the best summer hiking destination in Ontario

Sleeping Giant Provincial Park is one of my favourite hikes in Ontario. I had spent years seeing photos of the view dreaming of visiting but unsure the 17-hour drive or flight would be worth it. Turns out, it was!

The hike’s length and view are perfect for day-trippers who aren't ready for overnight or pack-laden hikes yet want to do more than the usual 4-10 km that are often available in Ontario.

It offers a 22 km out-and-back hike to spectacular views with hills that will get your heart pumping. Sleeping Giant offers over 100 km of trails so it can be hard to pick the best.

What trail is best?

After a lot of research and conversation with hiking friends, I learned the not-so-secret secret to this hike: bring a bike.

Sleeping Giant's longest trail, Top of the Giant via Kabeyun Trail, is best experienced on wheels and by foot. The out-and-back hike takes about 6 hours to complete walking but with a bike closer to 4 hours.

The biking path is gravel and not too hard. It is rocky with small hills but family-friendly. I am a city cyclist used to dodging cars on paved roads so the rocks were bumpy but completely doable.

The beginning/end of the trail is mostly flat. If you’re walking, there isn’t much to see in this area; it is just an open trail in the woods. The real hiking begins at the 8 km mark.

If you bike it you make it to this mark faster, enjoy the scenery at a nice pace and are welcomed with bike racks before beginning the climb.

Last summer the park updated its climbs to beautiful stairwells making the steep areas more accessible to day hikers. There are a few ups and surprisingly a few downhills through the 4 or so kilometres to the top of the Giant. What surprised me most was how flat the final km was.

I was saving my energy for a final climb when I realized I was already there. Sweeping winds and breathtaking views awaited me. On a hot summer August day, the winds brought air-conditioned winds off of Lake Superior to cool me down.

After snacks, photoshoots and conversations with fellow hikers, the descent is a repeat of the start with a few more downhill and a few short uphills.

A perfect time to take more pictures and cheer on fellow hikers who are feeling the burn of the stairs. The total was about 4 hours (6 if you don’t cycle).

Park fees

Sleeping Giant is one of the Ontario Parks where pre-purchasing your park pass is recommended. Reservations open 5 days in advance.

Regular parking passes cost between $12 and $24. You can also consider a park pass (summer $85 or year-round $11) to make exploring local parks easier.

Where to stay

Sleeping Giant is about an hour south of Thunder Bay. The park itself offers over 200 campsites and roofed accommodations including car camping and backcountry options. If you want to stay overnight to enjoy a longer visit to the park, reserve a permit in advance online.

Where to eat nearby

Thunder Bay is filled with great restaurants and breweries. Lakehead Beer Company offers a range of beers on tap and for sale and the best pizza in town. Or consider a flight with Sleeping Giant Brewery where you can also stock up on stickers and posters to commemorate your epic hike.

How to get there

I drove the 17 hours from Toronto to Thunder Bay over the course of 2 weeks of camping and hiking. If you don’t live nearby, a flight with Porter or Rouge from Toronto is a great and fast option. The park itself is one hour south of Thunder Bay.

You need a car to access the park so if you're not local, there are many car rental companies to consider. I recommend you add a few more parks like Kakabeka Falls and Ouimet Canyon to your list if you want to get your money's worth.

Lead photo by

Sleeping Giant

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