Canada has its fair share of long distance trails for the best hiking. I tend to think of Europe when I think of hiking trails or walks. Maybe they just did a better job of advertising. However, in Canada, there are long distance trails and hiking in every province and territory. Here are 37 of the best long-distance hiking trails in Canada.
Some of the best trails are built solely for hiking, others are shared trails. Almost all national parks have extensive trail systems with many possible multi-day hikes, but only a few are mentioned. Many, but certainly not all, trails are designed for experienced adventurers with boating and wilderness skills. Fortunately, there are still many that are well marked with several access points, which allows to perform them by sections, the time remaining. With Canada’s summer hiking season approaching, it’s time to start making plans. This list is a brief description of many of Canada’s long-distance hiking trails as I hear or try new trails.
Hiking trails in British Columbia
- The West Coast Trail is one of the most popular and best hiking trails long distance in Canada. It accommodates up to 8,000 people per season. It is a difficult stretch of 75 kilometres of beaches and rainforests between Bamfield in the North and Port Renfrew in the South. Allow 6-8 days. You can download a free guide here.
- The Juan de Fuca trail is an arduous but well-marked trail of 47 km along the coast from Port Renfrew to the small town of Jordan River, making it one of the best long-distance hikes in Canada. Also, it’s easier than its northern neighbor, the West Coast Trail, and perfect if you have three to four days. You can also browse by sections because of its multiple access points.
- The North Coast Trail at the north end of Vancouver Island offers a hard and often very muddy 43 km (27 miles) trail from Nels Bight in Cape Scott provincial Park to Shushartie Bay. Add another 15 kilometres to the San Josef River Trail. This is one of the best long-distance hikes in this part of Canada. You can see black bears, cougars, wolves and seals, sea lions and seabirds.
- The Nootka Island Trail, one of the best long-distance hikes, takes you about 35 kilometres from Louie Bay, north of the island, to Friendly Cove, and you should expect a delay of 5 to 7 days. This is another difficult trail, but one that rewards with beautiful beaches and a West Coast landscape par excellence.
- The Sunshine Coast Trail, one of the best long-distance hikes in the Powell River area of Canada, takes you 180 kilometres (112 miles) from The Desolation Sound area north of Saltery Bay to the South. You can choose between more than 20 access points, but if you do it all at once, wait at least 10 days.
- Stein Valley trails, Canada’s best long-distance hikes, in Stein Valley Nlaka’pamux provincial Park, east of Whistler, are notoriously difficult. The 52 km (32 miles) hike from Blowdown Pass to the Stein trail near Lytton takes four to five days. The landscape is apparently excellent, but the trails can be very difficult and you need excellent skills to find a route.
- The Alexander Mackenzie heritage trail (420 km) (also known as the Nuxalk-Carrier Grease trail) is one of the best long-distance hikes in Canada and takes you from Bella Coola in central British Columbia to Quesnel. Take three weeks to cover 80 km of Tweedsmuir provincial Park in one week. This historic trail was used by Aboriginal people to transport fish fat inland for commercial purposes.
- The Telegraph trail follows a historic telegraph line for 100 kilometres between Quesnel and Hazelton.
Hiking trails in Alberta
- The Waskahegan trail is one of the best hikes in Canada and offers a long distance experience of 309 kilometres (192 miles). The trail loops from south of Edmonton to Wetaskiwin, then east to Miquelon Lake provincial Park, north to Elk Iceland national park and west to Fort Saskatchewan. It is often a series of day hikes.
- The Great Divide Trail takes you 1,200 kilometres from the U.S. border north of Kakwa provincial Park in Canada north of Jasper National Park. In addition to a 100 km section between Crowsnest Pass and Kananaskis Country, This is an informal route.
Saskatchewan hiking trails
- Saskatchewan offers some of the best hikes in Canada in provincial and national parks. They have a long-distance hiking trail-the 120-km Boreal trail in the western part of the province. It offers a variety of starting and finishing points.
Manitoba hiking trails
- The Mantario Trail runs 66 kilometres (41 miles) through the Canadian Shield and boreal forest near the Manitoba-Ontario border. This trail, one of the best long – distance hikes, is reserved for experienced backpackers who are prepared for harsh conditions-at least according to travel reports.
Hiking trails in Ontario
- The “footpath for travellers” is a work in progress. Eventually, it will connect Thunder Bay on the north shore of Lake Superior to Manitoulin Island. At present, four sections of some length have been completed : Rossport to Terrace Bay (52 km), the Coastal Trail in Pukaskwa national Park (60 km), the Coastal Trail in Lake Superior provincial Park (55 km) and Goulais River – Sault Ste. Marie-Thessalon-Elliot Lake (250 km).
- The Ottawa-Temiskaming Highlands trail is a wild wilderness trail about 100 kilometres long. There are six access points by road, which divide the trail into day trips.
- The Bruce Trail is one of the best 800 km (496 miles) long-distance hikes following the Niagara Escarpment from Niagara to the tip of the Bruce Peninsula. There are more than 300 kilometres of secondary trails. Many access points allow for day or weekend trips. This is Canada’s original long-distance hiking trail.
- The Grand Valley Trail takes you 275 kilometres from Rock Point provincial Park on Lake Erie to the town of Alton near Orangeville. Beware of poison ivy and ticks.
- Avon Trail stretches from St. Mary’s in Conestoga for 110 kilometers. Go hiking on picturesque farmland, sometimes on a country road and even in small towns. The trail connects the Thames Valley and Grand Valley trails.
- The Thames Valley Trail is a 110 km long hiking trail that runs along the Thames Valley from London to St. Mary’s. across London, he follows a variety of trails.
- The Oak Ridges trail follows the Oak Ridge moraine for more than 160 kilometres (99 miles) north of Toronto. There are more than 100 kilometres of secondary trails connected to it, including the Bruce Trail to the West.
- The trail Ganaraska connecting Port Hope, Barrie, Orillia and the Bruce trail for a distance of 500 kilometers (310 miles). Some sections of the trail cross remote wilderness areas ; many sections can be completed over a number of weekends to complete the trail.
- The Rideau trail is a network of best 387-kilometre hiking trails linking Ottawa and Kingston, Ontario, which allows hikers to hike through two provincial parks, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and a UNESCO World Heritage site. Its many access points make it an ideal trail for hikers who hike it in sections, but more and more hikers are hiking it.
Hiking trails in Quebec
- The Quebec portion of the national hiking trail will be nearly 1,500 kilometres (930 miles) long. The trail will depart from the Ottwa / Gatineau Park region, cross the Laurentides and Charlevoix regions before crossing the St. Lawrence River at Les Escoumins. There will also be a 160 km section in the Lower St. Lawrence, extending to The New Brunswick border. More than half of the course is now complete.
- The Chic Choc mountains have 150 kilometres of trails, the best long-distance hikes that make up the northern part of the International Appalachian Trail. Stay in one of about 20 cabins in the backcountry and keep an eye out for caribou, especially at high elevations.
- The Estrie trails are among the best long-distance hikes that take you to Kingsbury for 150 kilometers, and connect several peaks of more than 2,000 feet. A membership is required to hike the trails.
- The Kénogami Lake Trail in Canada is one of the best 45 km hikes along the shores of Kénogami Lake. Make it four days. The trail begins near Hébertville and the East End is south of Chicoutimi.
- There is a refuge-refuge hiking trail near Baie Saint-Paul in Canada called Traversée de Charlevoix. Most people take between six and seven days to do it.
New Brunswick hiking trails
- The Fundy Trail is another rugged 41 km (25 miles) trail that takes at least four days. It takes you along the Fundy coast from the Fundy Trail Parkway near Big Salmon River to Fundy National Park. Be prepared for slippery rocks, cliffs and tides. Enjoy great views of the coast.
- The Fundy circuit is another possibility. It is one of the best 48-kilometre hiking trails in Fundy National Park.
Nova Scotia hiking trail
- Nothing yet, but the Cape to Cape Trail is in the planning phase. In the end, it will take you from Cape Chignecto to Cape George, a distance of about 400 kilometres. For now, take a three-day hike in Cape Chignecto provincial Park in Canada.
Prince Edward Island hiking trail
- In Prince Edward Island, look for the Confederation Trail, a 250 km (155 miles) trail on former railway tracks. It’s meant to be shared and it’s actually perfect for bikers. Walk through beautiful villages, hardwoods and numerous rivers. It’s easy to follow and flat.
Newfoundland hiking trails
- The East Coast Trail is one of the best long distance hikes with a 540 km (335 miles) trail running along the cliffs and the Avalon Peninsula. About half of the track is now complete and everything I’ve read suggests that it’s a must-have track. It is divided into 18 sections and each section can be consulted for a day of hiking. The trail connects 32 historic communities and features spectacular landscapes including cliffs, sea columns, fjords, lighthouses, icebergs and even a herd of caribou.
- Gros Morne National Park has two best wilderness routes: the North Rim Traverse and The Long Range Traverse. Both require strong navigation skills and prior experience or guidance.
Yukon Territory hiking trail
- The Chilkoot Trail, a former Gold Rush trail of 53 kilometres, is the most famous and best for hiking in Canada’s North. It is a demanding four-to six-day hike that begins at the water’s edge in Alaska and ends in Bennett, British Columbia. Campsites must be booked well in advance. You can download my complete Chilkoot Trail guide here.
Northwest Territories hiking trail
- The Canol Heritage Trail is an abandoned 350-kilometre (217-mile) route between MacMillan Pass and Norman Wells, one of the best long-distance hikes in Canada. The road was built during World War II to reach the oil fields. Plan a 20-day hike to explore this spectacular country. It’s a very remote experience.
Nunavut hiking trail
- The Akshayuk pass in Ayuittuq national Park on Baffin Island, Canada, is a 105 km hike that features a wilderness landscape with the highest rocky cliffs in the world. You will see hanging glaciers, shear mountains and perhaps even a polar bear.