Mount McKay is a mafic sill located south of Thunder Bay, Ontario on the Indian Reserve of the Fort William First Nation. It formed during a period of magmatic activity associated with the large Midcontinent Rift System about 1,100 million years ago.
McKay was originally known as the “Thunder Mountain” (Animikii-wajiw in the Ojibwe language and locally written as “Anemki-waucheu”). The mountain is used by the Ojibwe for sacred ceremonies. Only with the construction of the road were non-First Nations allowed on this land.
A lookout exists on the lower eastern plateau at an elevation of 300 metres (980 ft), providing a view of Thunder Bay and the city’s harbour. A small memorial commemorates Aboriginal people that fought in wars. There is a path on the eastern face of the mountain that can be used for hiking. Plants on the mountain include red and sugar maple andpoison ivy (animikiibag—”thunder-leaf” in the Ojibwe language). The top of the mountain has glacial erratics and jack pines. A small grove of yellow birch grows just south of the entrance gate.
A small, unmaintained trail can be used to reach the top from the lookout via the north face, with a heavy gauge steel cable that can be used for support. However, due to the grade and geology (mostly shale) of the face, this unsanctioned hike is considered dangerous, and is not recommended for novice hikers.
There is also somewhat of a trail on the west side of the mountain. Shale is predominant in this area, making the western climb considerably less dangerous than the north face.
Mount McKay is the northernmost peak in a range known as the Nor’Wester Mountains.