Fahgettaboud the bear encounters known along the Sibley Peninsula’s shoreline in Ontario. We heard the wolves instead around the Thunder Bay lookout in Sleeping Giant Provincial Park. There are Canadian wildlife experiences to be had in this region, for sure.
Rugged shale and gravel combined with steep gradients were all part of the deal on this 40km trail known as the Kabeyun (Ojibway for “mighty west wind”).
Home to the highest cliffs in Ontario not to mention the oldest rock on earth (over 2.5 billion years old) a.k.a Canadian Shield, we embarked on our trek across Sleeping Giant Provincial Park in Thunder Bay Canada.
Sleeping Giant itself is torn from the pages of an Ojibway story.
The locals recall how Nanabijou (Sleeping Giant), the deep seawater god, turned into this rock formation after his tribe revealed the whereabouts of a rich silver mine to the white man.
Sleeping Giant Provincial Park
The god now lies sleeping. Today, the provincial park is an escape hatch for urbanites.
We went to abandon the big city stresses.
Travellers from Niagara Falls will want to head to Toronto (read things to do in Toronto) then take a short 1.5-hour plane ride to Thunder Bay.
We had two goals: hike Sleeping Giant and kayak Lake Superior.
In Thunder Bay, we did a paddling tour in the Thunder Bay Harbour with a friend.
“Take the paddle,” said our guide Dave. Off we kayaked on McIntyre River loons overhead as the river spilled into the harbour.
Thunder Bay kayaking
For sea kayaking, the shoreline of Thunder Bay sheltered by the lichen-covered breakwater became our marine sanctuary.
“You don’t want to be going for a dip just yet,” I kibitzed to Suzanne who was looking unsteady in her kayak.
“Are you trying to scare me?”
“No, she’s trying to tell you the water’s just above freezing and that means hypothermia sets in real fast,” bleats Dave.
The world’s largest freshwater lake has been a nautical highway with schooners, lakers and salties (ocean-faring vessel) with many shipwrecks strewn on the lakebed around Isle Royale as a testament to the untamed inland sea.
Anybody who sails it knows it can be as dangerous as the sea but on days like today it was very calm.
Our sea kayak tour was thankfully uneventful as we completed the paddling trip with the Sleeping Giant fast asleep on the horizon.
Five other ways to celebrate the Sleeping Giant
1- Camping is popular but so are the cabins which are available year-round.
2- Do some birding in this thick boreal forest
3- Hike one of the trails. The park has over 100km of trails.
4- Cyclists take to the handful of bike routes. Advanced bikers challenge themselves at the Thunder Bay Lookout Road with its steep gradients.
5- Winter is just as pretty. Find some of the best cross-country skiing in Ontario on 50 km of groomed trails.
Ilona Kauremszky is an award-winning travel writer who lives in Toronto
Looking for more ideas on what to do in Canada? When visiting Niagara Falls, here are some things to do in Niagara on the Lake.