If you are headed to Thunder Bay it is well worth the stop at Sleep Giant Provincial Park whether it be for the day or for a longer stay. The Sleeping Giant is one of the most well known features in the Thunder Bay landscape. Sitting on the north shore of Lake Superior it is a feature of the landscape that cannot be missed. This truly distinctive piece of land has been a source of Aboriginal legends and myths. The park itself is a rugged and thickly forested terrain that offers incredible hiking, biking, wildlife viewing, swimming, sea kayaking and so much more.
The Legend of the Sleeping Giant
The legend of how the Sleeping Giant came to be was Nanabosho (the Giant) found silver in the Sibley Peninsula which he proceeded to bury in fear the white man would find it and take over their lands. One day vanity got the best of a chief and he dug up the silver and turned it into weapons and went out to battle the Sioux. Days later the Sioux was seen leading the white man to the source of the silver. So to save the secret of the Silver Nanabosho raised a storm and such the canoe drowning the white men and Sioux. As punishment, Nanabosho was turned to stone where he still lies today in Lake Superior watching over his silver secret.
How To Get To Sleeping Giant Provincial Park
Sleeping Giant Provincial Park is located on Highway 587, south of Highway 11/17, approximately one hour drive east of Thunder Bay. Located down a two lane road taking your towards the peninsula that juts out into Lake Superior this road will take you about 30-40 minutes off of Highway 17 to reach Marie Louise Lake Campground where you will be staying for your time in the park. If you are not towing an RV you can likely do this road a little bit faster but with a lot of bumps in the road is it safer to go a bit slower while towing an RV.
Sleeping Giant has 200 campsites at the Marie Louise Lake Campground, with almost half of them have electrical service. Some campsites has a lot more privacy than others and we highly recommend you book well ahead of your trip to ensure you get the best site possible. They have some great, private sites that back onto the water, whereas others were right along the main road in and out of the campground and had no tree or any foliage privacy between the sites. We happened to get a spot in site 116E and although it was a decently private sight it was along a cowpath that had a lot of foot traffic cutting through our site and we were only one site between us and the boat ramp / docks for Marie Louise Lake. This caused a fair amount of traffic all throughout the day.
The campground is very busy during the summer as it is definitely a hot spot for people to come and visit. It is definitely not for those coming to have a quiet stay. We enjoyed our time here but hope to come back and get a more private site next time! If you are looking to camp but do not have an RV or a tent they also have 30 foot trailers to rent as well as five fully equipped cabins that are located along the shores of Marie Louise Lake.
What To Do in Sleeping Giant Provincial Park
Hiking – There are so many hikes to do in the park that are all kinds of lengths starting with 0.6km hikes all the way to 40km overnight hikes. We chose to hike out to the Sea Lion off of the Kabeyun Trail.
Spend the Day at the Beach – Marie Louis Lake has a public beach with a swimming area although it didn’t allow dogs so we were only able to enjoy a swim for a short while without Keno.
Visit the Visitors Centre – The Visitors Centre has an interactive exhibit that explores the natural and cultural history of the Sibley Peninsula including a model of the Silver Islet Mine. There is also the Parks store where you can get souvenirs, books, treats, camping supplies, maps and rent canoes or kayaks.
Visit Silver Islet – This little on-shore mining community is the remnants of 150 years ago from the Silver Islet island mine. This island is considered to be one of the richest silver mines in the world. The mine shaft itself was in the icy cold waters of Lake Superior making it a very dangerous mining job but many men stayed in hopes of a good payout. The mine was shut down over 150 years ago and there is no access to the island, but you can still drive through the on-shore Silver Islet community and see some of the original miners homes that stand today. Some of the historic buildings have been renovate and the shore is also now home to many summer cabins.
Kayaking – There are lots of opporuntities to kayak in both Lake Superior and Marie Louise Lake. If you do not have a kayak you can rent them at the visitors centre.
Look At The Night Sky – There is almost no noise pollution around Sleeping Giant Provincial Park so this is the perfect place for you to see the night sky in all its glory.
Watch For Wildlife – Every time we have been to Sleeping Giant Provincial Park without fail we always see deer in the campground. There always seem to be a ton of deer, rabbits and foxes around. As well, the park is home to over 200 bird species.
There are so many things to do in Sleeping Giant Provincial Park that you could fill far more than just a day here!