In today’s post, Discovery Leader Rachelle Law answers a common question: “How do I get to the top of Sleeping Giant?”
Hiking up the Sleeping Giant and some of the tallest cliffs in Ontario can be quite the challenge, but the experience and the views are the ultimate reward.
One of the most commonly asked questions at Sleeping Giant Provincial Park is: “How do I get to the top of the Giant?”
Most are surprised to hear the three different hiking trails that go up the Sleeping Giant are long and rated difficult. But it’s no reason to be discouraged, as navigating to the Giant is also possible, in part, by bike!
Bikes are permitted for most of the way there, but once you reach the base of the Giant, the trail becomes steep and bikes are not permitted. From there, it’s up to your feet to do the rest!
Those who summit the Giant are rewarded with breathtaking views. Biking to the base of the Giant can be an efficient way to cut down on time and energy!
Here’s some important information on biking our trails and trip-planning advice:
The three trails up the Giant
Each trail offers unique and incredible views. The fun part: you get to choose your own adventure!
Each trail begins from the South Kabeyun Trailhead, which is a five minute drive past the Marie Louise Lake Campground on Highway ON-587.
Day use permits are required and can be purchased in advance, at the self-serve fee stations at the Joe Boy Lake parking lot at the north end of Highway ON-587, at the Marie Louise Lake Campground gatehouse, and at the park office.
Nanabosho Lookout Trail
Length: 17 km round-trip from the South Kabeyun Trailhead to the end of the Nanabosho Lookout Trail and back
This trail climbs the chest of the Sleeping Giant, and leads to a remarkable vantage point that overlooks the entire Sibley Peninsula.
From this beautiful lookout, adventurous hikers are rewarded with views of the Marie Louise Lake Campground, Sawyer Bay, Hoorigan Bay, Clavet Bay, and Porphyry Island Provincial Park.
Some of the most breathtaking views in the province can be enjoyed from the Nanabosho Lookout.
Parts of the trail that are bikeable: 11.8 km (round-trip) from the South Kabeyun Trailhead and the first 5.5 km of the Sawyer Bay Trail
Parts of the trail where bikes are not permitted and must be hiked: 5.2 km (round-trip) on Talus Lake Trail and the hike up the Giant on Nanabosho Lookout Trail
Length: 16.2 km round-trip from the South Kabeyun Trailhead to the summit of the Head and back
The steepest trail in the park climbs to the summit of the head of the Sleeping Giant.
The lookout at the end of the trail allows stunning views of Lake Superior, the Giant’s cliffs, and the forest below.
Parts of the Trail that are bikeable: 12.2 km (round-trip) from the South Kabeyun Trailhead to 5.7 km of the Sawyer Bay Trail.
Parts of the trail where bikes are not permitted and must be hiked: 4 km (round-trip) from the 0.6 km Kabeyun Trail Section that connects from Sawyer Bay Trail and the 1.4 km hike up the Giant on the Head Trail.
Top of the Giant Trail
Length: 21.8 km round-trip from the South Kabeyun Trailhead to the summit of the Top of the Giant Trail and back
The most popular bike and hike trail in the park is the Top of the Giant Trail.
This challenging trail takes you to the top of some of the tallest cliffs in Ontario, and provides access to some of the most gorgeous lookouts in the province.
Spectacular views of both the east and west coast of the Sibley Peninsula are revealed to determined hikers who venture here.
Parts of the Trail that are bikeable: 13.4 km (round-trip) Kabeyun Trail to the junction with Talus Lake Trail
Parts of the trail where bikes are not permitted and must be hiked: 8.4 km (round-trip) Talus Lake Trail and the hike up the Giant on the Top of the Giant Trail
Where can I store my bike at the base of the Giant before I start my summit?
The Top of the Giant Trail has some handy bike racks located right at the junction of the Kabeyun and Talus Lake Trail, making it convenient for storage and locking your bike.
Both the Head Trail and Nanabosho Lookout Trail do not have bike racks, but visitors are welcome to gently lock their bike to a nearby tree once the trail is no longer bikeable and hiking is required.
What are the trail conditions like for biking?
The terrain is fairly easy going on all three trail trails to the base of the Giant, with the exception of a few minor ups and downs.
The trails have a mixture of dirt, rocks, and shale. Slowing down around sharp turns and steep areas can help to prevent falls in rocky areas. Depending on weather conditions and biking experience, some rocky sections may require walking your bike up and down inclines.
Visitors are encouraged to use caution when biking these trails, and be considerate and aware of other trail users. Remember to use a bell or call “on your left” to announce that you are passing another trail user.
How to prepare for your biking trip to the Giant:
- be physically prepared for a challenging hike
- plan your route and review the park map
- check the weather forecast and bring the appropriate items that reflect the weather conditions (i.e., rain jacket, sweater, hat, gloves, etc.)
- do a maintenance check on your bicycle. Do the tires have enough air? Do your brakes work? Try taking it for a quick test run to make sure everything is working properly
- bring lots of drinking water and extra food
- wear sturdy shoes and wear a bike helmet
- give yourself as much time as possible and expect a full day of exertion
- if hiking in the afternoon, bring a head lamp in case it gets dark on your way back. This is especially important in the fall, as days are shorter
Enjoy the ride!
The forested canopy and crashing waves of Lake Superior offer relaxing scenery as you bike through the beautiful backcountry trails of Sleeping Giant.
Your bike and hike adventure up the Sleeping Giant is truly a once in a lifetime experience you won’t forget!
Ready to check this adventure off your bucket list?
Sleeping Giant Provincial Park is located a 1.25 hour drive from Thunder Bay.