Sleeping Giant Rocks In Thunder Bay

By Jeremy Freed

Photography by Ian Patterson

Located an hour’s drive from Thunder Bay Airport, Sleeping Giant Provincial Park sprawls across 25,000 hectares of the Sibley Peninsula on the western shore of Lake Superior. The park is named for the region’s most striking geographic feature — a rock formation resembling a huge slumbering ogre that rises 563 metres over the largest of the Great Lakes. In summer, the park’s campsites fill with tents and full-service RVs, but midweek during the winter, you can pretty much have the entire place to yourself. The park maintains five private cabins on the shores of Marie Louise Lake, outfitted with indoor plumbing, comfortable beds and fully equipped kitchens. From here, Sleeping Giant’s 50 kilometres of groomed cross-country ski trails, endless snowy woods and abundant winter wildlife are at your doorstep. 

Open outdoor cooking pit with chicken and broccoli on a grill. Frozen lake view surrounded by trees

A thriving silence 

Indeed, the park’s interior on a sunny winter afternoon is just as dazzling as its night sky. A thick canopy of evergreen, sycamore and birch creaks and sways overhead as we hike along the park’s pristine snowy trails. White-tailed deer watch from the thickets with their big black eyes, scampering off into the woods as we approach. A bald eagle circles over Lake Superior, eyeing a group of fishermen filleting their catch on the ice. Grey wolves, black bears and lynx roam freely through the landscape, as do more than 200 species of birds. Don’t let the tranquil silence of this snowy wilderness fool you — it pulsates with life all year round. 

Man snowshoeing across a snowy and barren wilderness

After my own day spent tromping through the woods on snowshoes, I’m ready for a shower, a hot meal and a fresh pair of socks, all of which are waiting for me in my cabin. 

Man climbing a snowy rock in the forest

Wilderness that indulges you 

Sleeping Giant’s rustic accommodations couldn’t be considered glamping, exactly. There are no vintage Hudson’s Bay blankets or decorative antlers to be seen anywhere. As I sit down to a hearty supper of fried potatoes and sausage, with a glass of Niagara gamay noir and the Minnesota MPR station coming through on the radio, that doesn’t matter. I have everything I need. The wilderness has a way of re-ordering priorities. In the company of centuries-old pines, rocks carved over eons and the glitter of stars thousands of light years away, it’s hard not to think about my life and everything in it in very different terms. It is, in a word, awesome.  

*Find this article in our issue of re:porter magazine issue 74 out now!