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Hiking Around Thunder Bay, Ontario

With easy access to regional parks, rugged Lake Superior coastline and the massive monolith of Sleeping Giant Provincial Park, Thunder Bay is a true hiking hub.

BEGINNER

Poplar Point Trail

(4 km; Kakabeka Falls Provincial Park)

This accessible, multi-use trail carves around the Whispering Hills Campsite and is best reserved for families with young children — though any hiker can appreciate a poplar stand in fall foliage. When the leaves drop and the snow comes, tackle this route on skis.

Whiskey Jack Trail

(2.5 km; Quetico Provincial Park)

Starting on a boardwalk, this trail introduces walkers to the bounty of Quetico — Labrador tea, wild mushrooms, horsetail and bunchberry — easing from a wooded path to a meandering trail as it skims the outskirts of one of the region’s wildest parks.

Middlebrun Bay

(4.2 km; Sleeping Giant Provincial Park)

Follow the stony shoreline of Lake Superior to a secluded beach — nice for a chilly dip when it’s warm or for dramatic ice formations when it’s cold — passing a biodiverse fen (wetland) along the route. Amateur botanists will appreciate the plant life endemic to this fragile ecosystem.

INTERMEDIATE

Middle Falls Lookout Trail

(4 km; Pigeon River Provincial Park)

This is not a long hike, but it has many sections of steep, slippery rock. The payoff? Stunning views over Lake Superior, all the way to Michigan’s Isle Royale, as well as a rest stop at the namesake, six-metre-tall Middle Falls. 

Little Falls Trail

(2.5 km; Kakabeka Falls Provincial Park)

Short and sweet: a rugged trail with a waterfall payoff. Wander along the Kaministiquia River, keeping an eye out for beavers and deer, and enter picturesque woodland before climbing sharply uphill to the vista of Little Falls.

Pines Hiking Trail

(10 km; Quetico Provincial Park)

If you fancy a night in the wilderness, pick up an Interior Camping Permit before trekking along this trail. Or do it in a day. Either way, sandy beaches on Pickerel Lake, stands of red pine and general seclusion throughout make it well worth the sweat.

ADVANCED

Top of the Giant

(22 km; Sleeping Giant Provincial Park)

It would be impossible to discuss hiking around Thunder Bay and not include Top of the Giant. The signature hike in Sleeping Giant Provincial Park, this strenuous route travels a portion of the Kabeyun Trail, past Tee Harbour, before starting its three-kilometre upslope grind, climbing nearly 300 metres above Lake Superior to the best lookout in the province.

Finger Point Trail

(5 km; Pigeon River Provincial Park)

After climbing this steep, 2.5-km (one way) trail, dry your sweaty brow while appreciating an international vista — views extend well into America. The trail is full of character beyond the natural environment, from the sculpted boardwalk on which it starts to the artistic bench from which to enjoy the view at the terminus.

French Portage Trail

(5 km; Quetico Provincial Park)

Expect slow going through the tricky, technical and low-lying terrain of watery Quetico Park. (There’s a reason it’s better known for canoeing.) French Portage Trail traces a route used by First Nations, as well as European explorers, for centuries. Historically, it led into Manitoba, but it’s also a great morning hike.