|Distance||0.6 miles roundtrip|
|Terrain||A few hills|
|Best Seasons||Summer, Fall|
- Low effort, high reward hike
- Arctic plants at the bottom of the canyon
- Learn about the geology of the canyon
Only an hour from Thunder Bay or an hour from the campground at Sleeping Giant Provincial Park, Ouimet Canyon (pronounced wee-met), the Grand Canyon of Ontario is an impressive gorge 330 feet deep, 490 feet wide, and 1.2 miles long. This provincial park is day use only, and this hike is the only recreational opportunity available; the park exists mainly to protect the fragile arctic plants found at the bottom of the canyon, and as such visitors are prohibited from exploring much of the park.
Due to the orientation of the canyon, I highly suggest you visit in the afternoon for the best lighting for your photographs or else the beauty will be lost in shadows. Dogs are allowed on leash, and this is an excellent destination for kids. The scenery is unbeatable for a hike this short, and each observation area features educational signs explaining the origin theories for the canyon and how the bottom of the canyon features plants normally found 600 miles to the north.
This trail, although unpaved, is wide and mostly flat and is designated accessible (called barrier-free in Canada). In addition, a wheelchair is available free of charge from the park office (see photo of sign below). The accessible route is slightly different, and you must do the trail as an out and back to the two lookouts rather than completing the loop to return to the parking lot. The map kiosk before the trailhead should also state this route modification.
From Thunder Bay, follow the Trans-Canada Highway (Ontario Highway 11/17) east; if you are coming from Minnesota, Minnesota Highway 61 turns into Ontario Highway 61 once you cross the Canadian border, and this highway turns into the Trans-Canada Highway. After about 45 minutes, turn left onto Ouimet Canyon Road. There should be an Ontario Parks sign for Ouimet Canyon Provincial Park indicating this turn. Continue straight on this road following signs until the parking lot. Note that trailers are prohibited on the last stretch of road and there is a designated unhitching area.
Google Maps Directions
Parking, Fees, and Facilities
Parking fees are on the honor system here, and you are required to deposit $2 (Canadian) in cash per person -- use US Dollars if that's all you have -- into a metal pole near the visitor center, as shown in the image below. You will not receive a receipt or proof of payment, so you are unlikely to be caught and ticketed or towed. In addition, the visitor center has extremely limited hours, so staff are rarely present. Seriously though, $2 is dirt cheap as far as entrance fees go (even with a car full of 5 people, it's still cheaper than paying the vehicle fee at any other Ontario Provincial Park), and this park is well worth the money. There is a park store and accessible vault toilets near the lots.