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From St. John’s East Coast Trail, to Vancouver’s Stanley Park network of trails, there are endless options for hiking new terrain across Canada. While it may seem like you need to travel hundreds or thousands of kilometres for these sites and experiences, many are waiting for you in your own backyard.
Here are five rugged and refreshing walks guaranteed to give that much-needed boost of nature that reminds us how lucky we are to live in the nature-rich Great White North.
The East Coast Trail, Newfoundland and Labrador
The East Coast Trail is over 300 kilometres of spectacular maritime trail right on North America’s easternmost coastline. You’ll find towering salt-crusted sea stacks, secluded lighthouses, flocks of seabirds and beautiful waterfalls throughout your hike.
Plan this as a multi-day trip or choose some of the sub-trails to hike if you want to do this in one go. For those looking for coastal views, The Flamber Head Path is over 14 kilometres of path that loops past jagged cliffs and sleepy meadows, gifting you with sweeping panoramas of tides cresting over rocky outposts backed by twisting pines.
Spout Path is another lengthy trail that involves camping overnight, but it’s worth it when you glimpse of the natural hot spring the trail takes its name from. And for those in search of true solidation, the Motion Path winds past an abandoned settlement and quiet woodlands.
As for somewhere to stay, camping is your best bet, but start off in style at Alt Hotel St. John’s. With 43 per cent of Canadian travellers desiring to visit somewhere in 2019 that none of their friends have been to, this seems like a pretty good bet at fulfilling that.
The Rockwall Trail, British Columbia
Strung along the western perimeter of Kootenay National Park, The Rockwall Trail is a stunning multi-day trek for the seasoned hiker. It takes its name from the jutting and unbroken wall of limestone cliffs that line the trail – a constant reminder of nature’s immense spectacle and an introduction to the bountiful sweep of sights this trail will uncover.
Take the route from north to south and you’ll quickly hear the tumbling water as you near one of Canada’s highest waterfalls, Helmet Falls. Further on, blushed pink and yellow paintbrush wildflowers are scattered around the Wolverine Pass as well as the mirror-like Floe Lake, which is arguably the highlight of the route.
A mountain oasis, its glacial blue waters line the base of the snow-dusted cliffs surrounding it. This view alone will no doubt be worth an Instagram.
It’s a trail with varying elevations, so start well-rested and refreshed at Radium Chalet, a short drive from the southern edge of the park.
Pocaterra Ridge Trail, Alberta
At the top of Kananaskis Country is the Pocaterra Ridge and one of the country’s most exquisite trails. It’s an 11-kilometre walk along the lofty ridge and you can choose to begin at either end. Whichever you choose, it’s here where you’ll find Canada at its most raw, rugged and elemental.
As you make your way along the first leg, expect to see huddles of woods, alpine meadows and ridges drenched in sunshine, while large mountains rise up behind the ridges in the distance. The trek takes between five to seven hours, so give yourself enough time to savour the walk’s panoramas.
You can choose to walk back to your starting point when you are finished, though many retreat to a warm and well-deserved bed – and Mount Engadine Lodge is a comfy and convenient option.
Mount Assiniboine Hike, British Columbia
The trail past Mount Assiniboine, dubbed “The Matterhorn of the Rockies,” is one of Canada’s most popular treks, taking around five days to complete.
On your way, you’ll pass through the fields of Wonder Pass which turn golden in September, the pristine Cerulean Lake and the glowing Sunburst Lake, which hangs below the equally radiant Sunburst Peak.
From any of these spots, lush pines and swirls of water add even more beauty to Mount Assiniboine’s piercing pyramid-shaped peak.
Soak in the views from Sunshine Valley’s Banff Boutique Inn – Pension Tannenhof, the perfect spot for a restful prelude or finisher to your hiking.
Canol Heritage Trail, Northwest Territories
Arguably the most demanding of the Canadian trails, the Canol Heritage route is as remote as they come. Built along an oil pipeline by the US Army during the Second World War, it takes anywhere from two to three weeks to complete and many hikers organize food to be transported to them over the course of the hike.
Logistics aside, experienced hikers will find much to love; spot the looming grey peaks of the Mackenzie Mountains half-veiled in low-lying mists and the wild herds of caribou darting across the pebbly rivers that cut through the valley, and it’s easy to get swept up in its pure wilderness.
The route starts at Norman Wells, but you’ll need to fly in from Yellowknife to reach it, so a night at Chateau Nova Yellowknife before you leave is a good option.