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The Top Of The Giant Hike In Northwest Ontario

The Top of the Giant Hike in Northwest Ontario

The Top of the Giant hike in Sleeping Giant Provincial Park rewards those who make the 12 kilometre one way trek with outstanding views over Lake Superior. Despite its considerable length, there is only 290 metres (961 feet) of elevation gain and the first eight kilometres of the hike are dead flat so you can cover a lot of ground quickly.

The hike to the Top of the Giant starts on the Kabeyun Trail
The hike to the Top of the Giant starts on the Kabeyun Trail

The day we did the Top of the Giant hike did not look promising. It was raining hard when we woke in our tent though it looked even worse over the Giant so I rolled over and went back to sleep until 9 AM.

By then the rain had stopped but by the time we were ready to tackle the hike it was 11 AM. I figured we would be in for an eight hour day, not appreciating at the time that 16 of the 24 kilometres were dead easy.

What to expect on the Top of the Giant Hike 

The hike starts at the Kabeyun South Trailhead along a forested trail off of Highway 587 near the Silver Islet Township. Mileage markers are placed at all important intersections so the trail is a snap to follow.

Our first destination was Tee Harbour, 6.5 kilometres away. We knocked that off in an hour – and that included a stop at a pretty backcountry campsite along the shores of Lake Superior. Since it had only taken an hour to do a quarter of the hike, I knew we could relax and worry less about the time.

This mileage marker tells you all you need to know
This mileage marker tells you all you need to know

Insider Tip: If you have access to a bike, cycle the first eight kilometres and then lock it up at the start of the Talus Lake Trail.

From Tee Harbour it’s pretty hiking for 1.5 kilometres along the Kabeyun Trail to the Talus Lake Trail junction. This is where you leave bikes and start climbing though you’re a mere kilometre away from the Top of the Giant Trail junction.

The climbing is steep in places and the trail narrows and becomes rougher underfoot. When you reach the Top of the Giant you are not at the highest point on the trail. That’s still about 45 minutes away. The name is a bit of a tease.

 Biking saves time on the first and last 8 km
Biking saves time on the first and last 8 km
The forest is lush and the trail is dead flat for the first 8 km
The forest is lush and the trail is dead flat for the first 8 km
The Top of the Giant Hike in Northwest Ontario showing fall colours
Some colour already in the forest
There is a proper bike rack about 8 kms in before you start the climb up the Sleeping Giant
There is a proper bike rack about 8 kms in before you start the climb up the Sleeping Giant
The first of the really good views
The first of the really good views

Enjoy superlative Lake Superior views

At times on the last two kilometres the trail will test your conditioning program but still it shouldn’t take more than 40 – 60 minutes to reach the high point and along the way there are some pretty spectacular views to keep you motivated.

Go to the very end to get the airy view over the cliff. You’ll be at one of the highest points in Ontario overlooking the largest freshwater lake in the world – by area not volume.

Early views over Lake Superior once you break out of the trees
Early views over Lake Superior once you break out of the trees
 Lake Superior in one of her calmer moments
Lake Superior in one of her calmer moments
The Top of the Giant Hike in Northwest Ontario
Looking over to the US and watching the rain head right for us
The Top of the Giant Hike in Northwest Ontario
On the edge
The Top of the Giant Hike in Northwest Ontario
Looking north
The Top of the Giant Hike in Northwest Ontario
The classic shot at the top with a precipitous chasm beside me
 Looking out at Tee Harbour - a sailing anchorage and campsite
Looking out at Tee Harbour – a sailing anchorage and campsite
The Top of the Giant Hike in Northwest Ontario
There are a few sections of trail that are lined by dense vegetation
Sunset from our campsite in Sleeping Giant Provincial Park
Watching the sun go down after a full day of hiking in Sleeping Giant Provincial Park

All told we did this hike in six hours round-trip and that included time on the top for lunch and photos and a 15 minute break at Tee Harbour on the return to refresh ourselves in the lake.

Home again was at the campground overlooking Marie Louise Lake in Sleeping Giant Provincial Park. It makes a great base to do this and several other hikes in the park.

Further reading about hiking in northern Ontario

Click on the photo to bookmark to your Pinterest boards.

The Top of the Giant Hike in Northwest Ontario near Thunder Bay

Thank you to Ontario Parks for the great campsite and to Ontario Travel for making this trip possible.

 

Leigh McAdam

Leigh McAdam is a Calgary based writer, author, photographer and social media enthusiast with over 61,000 followers. Her blog: HikeBikeTravel is frequently cited as one of the top travel and outdoor adventure blogs in Canada.

Author of Discover Canada: 100 Inspiring Outdoor Adventures
Co-author of 125 Nature Hot Spots in Alberta

This Post Has 6 Comments
  1. Hey! You came up with a hike that (if I had a bike) I would try! Of course, I’m more likely to check to plan a trip that lets me check out that sailing anchorage . . . Looks like a great spot to hike.

  2. My daughter and a friend did the climb this spring. The rain didn’t clear for them so the view wasn’t as clear but they still loved it. As my sister said, “They made it home looking drenched and ecstatic.”.

  3. Hi Leigh,

    I have been following your truly inspiring posts for years and did a lot of hikes based on your reviews 🙂 . This Summer I am planning on hiking ‘the top of the giant’. I know this is a 22 km round trip. Is there any backcountry campsites along the route?

    Thanks
    Rupo

    1. Hi Rupo,
      There is a backcountry campsite at Tee Harbour- 6.5 km in. It’s also a sailing anchorage. Not sure if its first come first served but the Ontario Parks people could confirm that – and any special rules during COVID. I do remember stopping at the harbour for a swim after the climb. It was quite pretty with lots of room. A great hike with the best views starting near the top – but worth it.

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