Nature hikes in Canada will range from the most empowering and physically demanding trails, to footpaths natives took to get from one area to the next. Canadians love the outdoors, and it shows.
The country’s current plan to construct not one, but two, cross-county recreation trails, is a sheer testament to the passion of nature hiking in the country as a whole. The two trails, called the Trans Canada Trail and the National Hiking Trail, are not the only things to consider, either. Make sure you research all of your options with canada 411 for hiking tips and trails before you set out on your adventure!
Trans Canada Trail
The Trans Canada Trail will be, at its conclusion, the world’s longest recreation parkway. It will have more than 10,000 miles of hiking trails, a length that allows people from coast to coast to enjoy its beauty. The route will take hikers from Saint John’s, Newfoundland, eastward to Victoria, British Columbia.
It is about 1,000 miles less to travel on the highway from one side of the country to the other, but this route takes individuals on a far more scenic tour. In addition, there will be another route that will travel from Calgary, Alberta, northward through the Yukon, all the way to the Arctic Ocean.
National Hiking Trail
A secondary option for those who wish to explore the beauty of this natural wilderness is the National Hiking Trail. Once called the Senitier National Trail, upon completion this trail will be a footpath that spans 6,213 miles. What is the difference between the Trans Canada Trail and the National Hiking Trail?
The National Hiking Trail is only for foot traffic, unlike the other, which is acceptable for horseback, biking, and other vehicles. Currently, major portions of the trail are in Southern Ontario and Quebec, though a significant portion of this footpath is incomplete still.
What About the Bruce Trail?
The Bruce Trail is a Canadian hiking trail that is the ancestor of both of these trails. Put in place completely in 1967, this hiking trail was 770 kilometers in length in Ontario. This trail started at the tip of the Bruce Peninsula and travels to Niagara. The trail is still in use today.
The International Appalachian Trail
The Appalachian Trail is one of the more frequented trails in the United States, taking individuals through these mountains in various levels of difficulty. In Canada, there is a northern portion to the United States counterpart.
The portion in Canada, which is part of the formal International Appalachian Trail is an extension running from Mount Katahdin in Maine, U.S.A., through New Brunswick. It ends at the very top of Gaspe.
The West Coast Trail
One of the most recognized and distinguished hiking trails in the world is the West Coast Trail in Canada. The parks limit the number of people who may access this trail each year, keeping it in as natural of a condition as possible. Visitors will see caves, coves, beaches and coastal geology.
The trail runs from Victoria through Vancouver, but, for those who are new to hiking, this is not the trail for you. It is a challenge, including areas such as Sandstone Creek and the Tsusiat Falls. The old growth here is also impressively beautiful. You may see whales, sea lions and even a shipwreck or two along the route.
The Chilkoot Trail
Perhaps you want a historical hike, one that will teach you as much as it will show you the history of the land. The Chilkoot Trail does this by providing you with the ability to take the same trail hundreds took during 1898, when the Klondike gold rush was occurring. Each day, only 50 hikers are able to take the trail, leaving from Skagway, Alaska. It is a difficult hike and takes five full days to complete.
Sunshine to Mount Assiniboine
Another of the top rated trails in Canada runs from Sunshine to Mount Assiniboine. Experienced hikers are likely to spend about five days on this trail, which extends about 35 miles. You will get to see the Matterhorn peak as part of this hike, but the only way to Assiniboine is by helicopter or by foot.
To make the trip longer, extend it through the Sunburst Valley. Many of those who come to the hike do so to climb Assiniboine. The hike is popular, but this trip is well worth the crowds.
Lake O’Hara Hiking
Another must-take trip is the hike at Lake O’Hara. There are two hikes in the area: Lake O’Hara Alpine Circuit and Lake McArthur. The maximum night stay is three nights, and numerous day excursions are possible.
If you get to travel through the Canadian Rockies, start with this particular hike, even if you have yet to climb through the mountains. The trails are easier and the views are nothing short of breathtaking. Go cliff jumping into near freezing water or just enjoy the alpine forest around you.
What is Hiking Really Like in Canada?
Hiking trails offer numerous opportunities for individuals truly to explore the wilderness, but expect to do just that. You will find limited amenities in many of these areas, especially into the western portion of the country.
In some areas, the trails are very remote, requiring only the best mountaineers or hikers to take to them. However, on the right trail, with the right people, you are sure to find some of the most serene wilderness you have ever seen–assuming the bears stay away.
Join a Club
One of the best ways to experience the Canadian nature trails is with fellow hikers who love the outdoors as much as you, or more. Numerous nonprofit organizations exist to encourage the development of quality trails and the linking of hikers to each other.
Seek out Alexander MacKenzie Voyageur Route Association, the Alpine Club of Canada, the Canadian Orienteering Federation and Go for Green to learn more about national organizations.
Are you ready to experience the beauty and extensive wilderness that Canada has to offer? Often called one of the last truly remote and preserved wildernesses in the world, Canada’s nature trails are nothing to scoff at.
You will feel the tension build in your legs and your eyes widen with the views from the cliffs, glaciers and mountaintops. From east to west coast, there is something amazing to see along these trails.