Sleeping Giant Provincial Park, Ontario

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Sleeping Giant Provincial Park, Ontario

Post by DougBidlack » Thu Sep 20, 2018 6:59 pm


Kouta and I visited several sites in Ontario back in 2013 and we reported on all of those sites but one by 2014. This is that final report but I'd like to say a couple words about Ontario first. I grew up in Michigan and my family visited Ontario nearly every year and often several times a year. We knew Ontario far better than most states but I often forget that most Americans know remarkably little about Canada or really think about the vast size and remarkable beauty of our neighbor to the North. Ontario is huge. The total area is 415,598 square miles (1,076,395 km2) and you can drive 1,305 miles (2,101 km) from Quebec to Manitoba along the Trans-Canada Highway. For some perspective, Texas encompasses 268,581 square miles (696,241 km2) and you can drive 879 miles from Louisiana to New Mexico along Interstate 10. So Ontario is about 1.5X larger in area and you can drive about 1.5X farther from East to West or vice-versa than in Texas! Yes, Ontario is big, but here's the thing, Nunavut, Quebec and the Northwest Territories are all bigger than Ontario. Nunavut is even bigger than Alaska. There's so much to explore in Canada and I hope that these Ontario reports help to open the eyes of people that may not have thought much about this great place. Sleeping Giant is a great example of a fantastic park that most Americans have never even heard about.

Ellen and I only had a few days in mid-October to explore the park but man, what a glorious few days! We had spectacular weather and one super day-hike that was as memorable as any that we've ever taken. Most of this report will center on that one day-hike up to the Chimney lookout which was a 15.2 mile round trip with the short spur to the Sea Lion. It sounds long and hard but we left early in the morning and we walked slowly to take in the scenery and it was really no big deal. The short spur was very early along the hike so here is a shot of the Sea Lion at the end of this trail. I think I read that the 'lion' had lost a bit of rock to the lake so it doesn't look quite as lion-like today.
The main trail, called the Kabeyun Trail, followed closely along Lake Superior for some easy, delightful walking among a forest of birch, mountain-ash, fir, spruce and mountain maple. Here is a typical scene.
I planned to measure a couple mountain maples on the way back because they were so abundant here. I could have spent days at this park doing nothing but measuring this one species. So many trees so little time! After a bit of walking we came to a harbor called Tee Harbor. The name of this harbor is not obvious from the following picture with Ellen but that would soon change.
Next came a right hand turn inland via the Talus Lake Trail for 0.8km to the Top of the Giant Trail. It was then a short hike to a beautiful marsh that was almost entirely dry at this time. With the Sleeping Giant as a backdrop I took this shot of the marsh.
There was a stout Northern White-cedar along the edge of the marsh that measured 9.40' (2.87m) in girth. The tree was so short, probably less than 50', that I didn't even measure the height. Here is a picture of this tree with Ellen.
5 (1).jpg
There was a dead birch a little farther along that I would measure on the way back. Now we came to the climb up the Giant. It was steep but relatively short and with lots of switchbacks. We emerged at a viewpoint that was near the southeastern end of Sleeping Giant Provincial Park which covers most of the Sibley Peninsula. The Sibley Peninsula runs from the North to the South but not perfectly North to South; more like North-Northeast to South-Southwest. At our first good view from the top of the Giant we were on the southeastern part of the tip of the Peninsula and so we mostly had a view to the southeast. Tee Harbor was located well below to our East as you can see in the following picture.
This southeastern part of the Sleeping Giant was dominated by Quaking Aspens and the understory had quite a few Beaked Hazelnuts. Here is a picture of some of these Quaking Aspens.
As we walked from the side of the Giant exposed to the southeast to the side exposed to the northwest, the trees changed over to mostly Balsam Firs and White Spruces as in the following picture with Ellen.
We soon came to another lookout that faced mostly West and with a little more hiking we ended up at the Chimney Lookout which was as amazing as advertised. Four pictures are needed to do some justice to this place.
The highest point on the Sleeping Giant is said to be 1,847' (563m) above sea level and the surface of Lake Superior is about 600' (183m) above sea level so the vertical drop is 1,247' (380m) which is the biggest drop in Ontario and these cliffs are supposed to be the highest along Lake Superior. The pictures that I took were not from this highest point which is located in the Chest area. The Chimney Lookout is in the Knee area. Another good lookout is located at the Head of the Giant. Someday we'll need to visit those sites too. Once we got back down near the marsh we measured the big, dead birch. My guess is that it was a Heart-leaved birch but it may have been a paper birch. Because of the great size I thought that it might even have been a yellow birch even though that species is not supposed to be present here. I'll be interested to hear what others may have to say on this matter. Too bad it was dead. The girth was 10.82' (3.30m) @ 3'3" (0.99m) and 12.06' (3.68m) @ 4'6" (1.37m). The top was gone so I didn't measure the height. Here is a picture with this birch and me.
When we got back to the Kabeyun Trail we decided to measure a couple of mountain maples. The first was 1.76' @ 3'11" x 22.6' (0.54m @ 1.19m x 6.9m). It measured 2.10' @ 4'6" (0.64m @ 1.37m). Below is a close-up of the base of the tree. The branch is at 2'5" (0.74m).
The second mountain maple was more slender but taller. It measured 0.99' x 29.2' (0.30m x 8.9m).

The next day we took a drive around Marie Louise Lake and we measured some large quaking aspens for this area. The tallest was 88.5' (27.0m) but I didn't measure the girth. The tallest one is to the left in the following picture.
The largest aspen measured 6.60' x 75.0' (2.01m x 22.9m) and it is located just to the left of the car in the following picture.
We then drove to the Thunder Bay Lookout farther North where we had more good views of Thunder Bay but this time we were lower in elevation.
There was a short trail here called the Thunder Bay Bogs Nature Trail and the fact that trees could grow on the very thin soils here was amazing. They were mainly jack pines and black spruces but there were also a few northern white-cedars, white pines and birches among other species.
I loved the mix of bare rock, lichens, moss and grasses. Here is a close-up of a beautiful scene.

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Re: Sleeping Giant Provincial Park, Ontario

Post by DougBidlack » Thu Sep 20, 2018 9:37 pm

Here is a rundown of all the trees that Kouta, Ellen and I have measured in 2013. Three were measured only by Kouta and I've indicated these trees by placing his name afterwards in parentheses. Species are arranged from tallest to shortest.

White Pine
13.10' x 125.0' (3.99m x 38.1m)
7.89' x 101.2' (2.40m x 30.85m)

White Spruce
4.68' x 94.8' (1.43m x 28.9m)
5.03' x 88.9' (1.53m x 27.1m)
? x 88' (? x 27m) (Kouta)
? x 83.7' (? x 25.5m)

Quaking Aspen
? x 88.5' (? x 25.5m)
6.60' x 75.0' (2.01m x 22.9m)

Red Pine
5.50' x 87.1' (1.68m x 26.5m)

Jack Pine
4.08' x 86.6' (1.25m x 26.4m) (Kouta)
4.53' x ?

Black Spruce
3.08' x 83.7' (0.95m x 25.5m) (Kouta)
2.73' x 70.2' (0.83m x 21.4m)

Yellow Birch
12.74' x 79.5' (3.88m x 24.2m)
11.09' x 73.5' (3.38m x 22.4m)
8.15' x ? (2.48m x ?) dead

Balsam Fir
3.61' x 77.8' (1.10m x 23.7m)
3.69' x 74.5' (1.12m x 22.7m)
? x 71.5' (? x 21.8m)

Balsam Poplar
4.67' x 73.5' (1.42m x 22.4m)

Heart-leaved Birch
6.25' x 58.5' (1.90m x 17.8m)
10.82' @ 3'3" x ? (3.30m @ 0.99m x ?) dead (species ID uncertain)

Pin Cherry
2.70' x 58.5' (0.82m x 17.8m)
2.51' x 55.5' (0.77m x 16.9m)
3.17' x ? (0.97m x ?)

Showy Mountain-ash
3.97' x 52.5' (1.21m x 16.0m)
2.30' x 47.6' (0.70m x 14.5m)
2.00' x 46.3' (0.61m x 14.1m)
2.22' x 41.7' (0.68m x 12.7m)

Pussy Willow
1.30' x 33.1' (0.40m x 10.1m)
0.95' x 29.2' (0.29m x 8.9m)

Mountain Maple
1.25' x 32.2' (0.38m x 9.8m)
0.99' x 29.2' (0.30m x 8.9m)
1.76' @ 3'11" x 22.6' (0.54m @ 1.19m x 6.9m)

Bebb's Willow
0.86' x 25.9' (0.26m x 7.9m)

Green Alder
0.25' x 13'8" (0.08m x 4.2m) thicker stem 0.29' (0.09m)

Northern White-cedar
9.40' x ? (2.87m x ?)


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Larry Tucei
Posts: 2017
Joined: Tue Mar 09, 2010 10:44 am

Re: Sleeping Giant Provincial Park, Ontario

Post by Larry Tucei » Fri Sep 21, 2018 12:30 pm

Doug- Great post love the photos. I've always wanted to visit Canada. I'll do it in a few more years when I retire. That Northern Cedar is awesome Old Growth. Larry

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