Hiking the head of the Giant in the Winter
Hiking, sailing, and rock climbing are all part of a long list of exciting outdoor activities that are easily accessible in Thunder Bay. Within 20 minutes you can be down at the marina jumping on a boat for an afternoon excursion on Lake Superior or fishing at your friend’s inland cabin. But that’s summer. Winters in Northwestern Ontario can be long and cold if you don’t take advantage of the snowy conditions.
My girlfriends and I plan weekly adventures and heart pounding activities to motivate us to go outside during the winter. Our most recent excursion involved hiking the snow packed trails of the Sleeping Giant Provincial Park. We decided to make the challenging hike to the top of the head.
It takes approximately six hours to hike from the parking lot to the head and back. And approximately eight hours, round trip, to hike to the knees of the Giant. The trail to the head is fairly flat for the first 7 km and becomes very steep for the last 2km. There are many useful signs along the way but the trail can split and some routes can turn out to be longer than expected.
Hiking the trails can be very challenging in the winter and therefore the following precautions should be taken:
- Tell someone where you are going and when you should be back
- Bring sufficient water
- Bring a flashlight
- Have Nordic Trail Crampons
- Bring extra clothes (it can be very windy at the top)
- View a Map ahead of time and know your route
- Bring a cellphone (service is variable)
Hiking in the Summer
In the summer this amazing lookout is easily accessible by hiking, mountian biking, and even sailing. Sail Superior has also introduced a 30 foot Zodiac to its fleet this season. This will allow hikers to cruise over from the marina to the trail head in under 70 minutes. From the drop off point in Sawyers Bay, the head of the Giant trek is approximately a two hour return trip.
The Sleeping Giant Provincial Park is open year round and is a highly recommended hotspot for any outdoor enthusiast. Not only does it have the most spectacular view of Thunder Bay, but it is also home to many native species. This includes wildlife species such as deer, red fox, grey wolf and black bears. Additionally, over 200 bird species have been identified within the park through the help of the Thunder Cape Bird Conservatory. The Conservatory occupies the tip of the Sibley peninsula and is accessible through the hiking trails provided by The Sleeping Giant Provincial park. A map of the hiking trails are available at the entrance to the park.