Nothing will bring you closer to a place than walking it. By walking, you notice things you would never have noticed before. Longer walks and hikes brings the world back down to human scale and reconnects us with ourselves and nature. To find a deeper connection between yourself and the environment walking is the way to explore the world!
Here are some of the best and longest trails to discover in Canada.
Trans Canada Trail
The Trans Canada Trail is a cross-Canada system of greenways, waterways, and roadways that stretches from the Atlantic to the Pacific to the Arctic oceans. It is the longest recreational, multi-use trail network in the world. Due to its’ multi-use nature, only 7,898 kilometres of the Trans Canada Trail has actual off-road trails, so is not the same as a classic pure-hiking trail, such as the Appalachian Trail.
In different sections, you can access the trail with shoes for hiking, skis for skiing, bikes for biking or horses for riding – make sure you check trail descriptions in the area you are planning to go before you set out since different areas have stretches of varied trail types and some are more suitable to some modes of transportation versus others.
Distance: 24,000 kilometres (15,000 miles)
West Coast Trail
Located on Vancouver Island, the West Coast Trail is as popular as it is long and is often rated by hiking guides as one of the world’s top hiking trails. Over 7,500 backpackers hike the West Coast Trail every year. It is part of ancient paths and paddling routes used for trade and travel by the first nations people and was built in 1907 to facilitate the rescue of shipwrecked survivors along the treacherous coastline which came to be known as the “the Graveyard of the Pacific.” Parks Canada provides a number of helpful guides to aid you in determining if you are prepared for this hike. It will take 6-8 days to hike the full trail, but there is a mid-point entrance at Nitinaht Narrows to allow for a shorter hike of the Trail. Since the trail follows the coastline, you will be sure to encounter gorgeous sunsets, scenic landscapes, and amazing waterfalls.
Distance: 75 kilometres (47 miles)
Sunshine Coast Trail
The Sunshine Coast Trail in British Columbia takes hikers from Sarah Point to Saltery Bay. The trail is built with moderate sections and difficult terrain. A few parts of the trail are family friendly, but cumulatively it is a challenging hike. Hiking along Powell River, you will be sure to find a great mix of varying landscapes, from panoramic mountaintops, beautiful old-growth forests, and breathtaking coastlines. It provides hikers with the opportunity to experience Powell River’s breathtaking back country with its rich fauna and flora. The Sunshine Coast Trail attracts hikers from around the world and boasts 14 huts, making it Canada’s Longest Hut-To-Hut Hiking Trail. There are over two dozen entry points to the trail via highway and logging roads, so you can modify the length of your hike depending on what you want. Huts are first-come-first served and are not stocked but do have composting or pit toilets for convenience.
Distance: 180 kilometres (111 miles)
Chilkoot Trail National Historic Site
The Chilkoot Trail has a unique history of being a modern recreational trail borne from a highway. From 1897-98, the Klondike Gold Rush transformed a traditional trade route into highway, where thousands of men, women, and children completed the journey from Dyea, Alaska to Lake Bennett, British Columbia in search of gold. Today, over 10,000 people a day hike, backpack, or trail run this corridor. As they do, they pass hundreds of interesting artifacts left behind by gold seekers – making it the world’s longest museum.
Distance: 53 km (33 miles)
The Telegraph Wilderness Trail in British Columbia follows an historic and extensive telegraph line that dates back to the 1870’s. This line played an important role in the history Canada’s west and north and is considered a moderate hiking/backpacking trail. The trail begins in Quesnel and extends to Hazelton, a distance that will take you approximately 6 days to traverse. Throughout, you will hike through some deep wilderness, so keep your eyes out for the trail markers!
Distance: 100 km (62 miles)
The Mantario Trail, located in southeastern Manitoba, may not be as long as these others, but it’s certainly the most challenging. If you are not an experienced backpacker, then you’re better off waiting until you’re ready as this one is suggested only for very experienced hikers. Manitoba Conservation recommends planning for approximately 25 hours of actual hiking time (not including breaks) to complete the trail, but most hikers spread this over 3-4 full days since you’ll also want to keep in mind that some of the trail can be impacted by rainfall, causing some delays. The Mantario Trails is a multipurpose trail and meanders through the rugged Canadian Shield. The trail is predominantly located within Whiteshell Provincial Park, although a very small portion of it enters Crown Land in Ontario, meaning parts are totally in the wilderness.
Distance: 63 kilometres (39 miles)
The Bruce Trail
The Bruce Trail is located in Ontario and is Canada’s oldest and longest marked (and well-maintained) footpath, extending from Niagara to Tobermory. It is maintained by the Bruce Trail Conservancy, who’s goal is to “…protect and steward land along the Niagara Escarpment and make it available to explore by foot along the magnificent Bruce Trail.” This scenic hiking trail follows along Ontario’s Niagara Escarpment overlooking Georgian Bay. The escarpment is most famous as the cliff over which the Niagara River plunges at Niagara Falls, for which it is named. The Escarpment is a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve and has the oldest forest ecosystem and trees in eastern North America. Niagara Falls is not the only waterfall – there are plenty along the way, especially in Hamilton, Ontario.
Distance: 900 kilometres (559 miles)
The Fundy Circuit
Location in Fundy National Park in New Brunswick, The Fundy Circuit is a network of seven linked hiking trails that takes you through river valleys, past lakes, along the coast and through beautiful forests. The trail wraps around the park (hence, circuit), and takes three to five days to complete (pre-registering is required). Here you can find lush green forests, freshwater lakes, and salty Atlantic Ocean air. The world’s largest tides are Fundy’s claim to fame and the highlight of any visit.
Distance: 48 km (30 miles)