on top of the sleeping giant

Stunning Hike in Sleeping Giant Provincial Park

One of the top hikes in Ontario is the one that leads hikers on top of the sleeping giant’s knees. Read for more information on the hike in Sleeping Giant Provincial Park that takes you to the stunning trail to the top of the giant.

Every time I am in the Thunder Bay region, I can’t help but make my way to the top of the giant and stand on its knees, admiring the views of the endless Lake Superior.

The 300-meter-high cliffs over Lake Superior make this hike a memorable one. If you ever find yourself in the vicinity of Sleeping Giant Provincial Park, make sure to cross this one off your list.

About the Trail to the Top of the Giant

Hike in Sleeping Giant Povincial Park, Top of the Giant Trail information

This stunning hike in Sleeping Giant Provincial Park is famous for its amazing view. The trail to get to the top of the Giant follows the Kabeyun Trail for 8 kilometres and then the Top of the Giant Trail for 3 kilometres. The out-and-back journey is 22 kilometres long from the South Kabeyun trailhead parking on Highway 587. 

About Sleeping Giant Provincial Park

Sleeping Giant Provincial Park owes its name to the mesa south of the Sibley Peninsula, which strangely resembles a giant lying on its back. Hikers will come from all over to hike to the top of its knees. It is located about an hour east of Thunder Bay on the 587 off Highway 17.

Note that a daily vehicle permit is necessary to enjoy time in the park.

Save it for later

hiker standing on the Giant's knees looking out at Lake Superior in the pin for the hike in Sleeping Giant Provincial Park
Randonneur sur les genous du Géant admirant le lac Supérieur

Hike in Sleeping Giant Provincial Park

Early in the morning, we put on our hiking boots and began our adventure toward the giant. Check out Essential Hiking Gear for a list of hiking gear we carry on day hikes like this one.

Kabeyun Trail

Kabeyun Trail in Sleeping Giant Provincial Park

The Kabeyun Trail is a broad, sometimes rocky, sometimes sandy trail. The eight kilometres of this trail do not have any significant gain. Many hikers choose to complete this section on a mountain bike to save time. You will certainly not regret the return by bike, which is much faster than on foot. 

Unfortunately, this was not a choice for us, so one step at a time, we covered the eight kilometres in about an hour and a half. We could sneak glimpses of the lake here and there through the trees all along the path. 

After the relatively easy 8 kilometres on the Kabeyun Trail, we make a right turn at the intersection of the Kabeyun Trail and the Top of the Giant Trail.

Top of the Giant Trail

The Top of the Giant Trail steps deeper into the forest. This is where the climb begins, all the way up to the knees of the giant. Over the next three kilometres, our legs absolutely feel the 300-meter gain.

Some makeshift stairs on the trail help hikers when the slope is too steep. Once at the top, the trail follows the giant’s eastern ridge, offering spectacular views of Lake Superior.

We then cross the mesa to find ourselves on the west side of the ridge, from where the scenery is breathtaking. On top of the giant’s knees, the waters of Lake Superior reflect the sun’s rays and appear a radiant blue.

In the distance, the city of Thunder Bay is visible on one side; on the other, the sea stretches as far as the eye can see.

While walking on the plateau, we have to step over breaks and cracks formed in the rocks. Some are a little wider, and I can see the ground 300 meters below, which causes me trouble when I try to cross them. But I then find myself at the very end of the cliff above the lake. 

I can’t help but feel grateful in front of such beautiful seascapes. I am thankful to have the chance to admire them, be fit and healthy enough to get to such peaks, share the experience with my loved one and be grateful to live such beautiful adventures.

on top of the sleeping giant looking at the vast blue Lake Superior
View of the Chemneys making up the Giant's knees in Sleeping Giant Provincial Park

The Return

We return by the same route. Although the descent is quick, the stretch on the Kabeyun Trail seems endless. We take our time with a few stops on the shores of the lake.

shores of Lake Superior on the Kabeyun Trail

Even seen from below, the lake is sublime. The pebble beaches offer a different sight from the more popular sandy beaches.

We are delighted to see the small wooden bridge, which means the end is near.

More Stunning Hikes in Sleeping Giant Provincial Park

Another very popular hike in the park is the Sea Lion Trail, named after a rock formation on the shores of the lake that once oddly resembled a sea lion. Over time and with the erosion of the sea, wind and ice, parts of the rock broke away. Despite the change in the shape of the stone, the name still stuck. 

The trail wanders through a pebble beach and a forested area that borders the lake. Again, the views do not disappoint. 

The Sea Lion Trail is a short side trail from the Kabeyun Trail and can be done on your way to or back from the Top of the Giant if your feet will allow it 😉

Sea Lion rock formation in Sleeping Giant Provincial Park

Other options are available with equally beautiful views for hikers wanting to enjoy a shorter day hiking in Sleeping Giant Provincial Park. On the park’s website, you will find a list of family-friendly hikes through the park. 

If you’ve never had the chance to explore this beautiful provincial park, now is the time to add it to your list! I will undoubtedly enjoy revisiting it. I thoroughly enjoyed hiking in Sleeping Giant Provincial Park!

More hiking adventures

There are many more adventures in this beautiful region. Find out more with this 7-day itinerary in Northern Ontario.

“Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt.”

– John Muir


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