While health and safety continue to be a top priority, Aussie travellers dreaming of next-level outdoor adventures can challenge themselves on Canada’s Great Trail when the time is right. In the meantime, take yourself on a virtual 20-second Great Trail adventure HERE.
The longest recreational trail in the world, The Great Trail criss-crosses more than 24,000 kilometres through Canada’s 10 provinces and three territories, connecting three oceans and embodying Canada’s magnificent urban, prairie, rural and wilderness landscapes along greenway, waterway and roadway.
Whether a short morning stroll or a week-long excursion, outdoor lovers of all ages and levels of ability can explore portions of the trail on foot, horse-back, bike or canoe in summer and autumn, and by cross-country ski, dog sled or snowmobile in winter and spring.
Peaceful seaside villages and farmland, isolated beaches, powerful waterfalls and some of the world’s highest tides lie waiting to be discovered along the way.
From the picturesque Maritime provinces in the east, to the vast expanse of Yukon Territory in the north, and British Columbia in the west, every Canadian province and territory features its own stretch of the trail, owned and operated at the local level, open all year round.
The country’s major cities are linked by the path, making it easy for international visitors to experience The Great Trail, wherever they are. Highlights include:
- Nova Scotia Celtic Shores Coast Trail: From Port Hastings to Inverness, the flat, easy-going 90-kilometre Celtic Shores Coast Trail winds through Nova Scotia‘s spectacular Cape Breton Island and is best for long-distance hikers and off-road cyclists. The trail combines stunning wilderness and beaches with Celtic culture and music, only three hours from Halifax.
- Prince Edward Island Confederation Trail: See all of rural Prince Edward Island from top to bottom via the easy 446-kilometre Confederation Trail, which runs from Tignish to Elmira, rolling past farmland, quiet seaside villages, pretty bays, and charming cities. Be sure to include a tour of Canada’s birthplace, Charlottetown.
- La Montérégiade, Quebec: The 39-kilometre La Montérégiade is the leisurely way to see Quebec’s Eastern Townships. Pedal from Montérégie to the Townships, or from Saint-Jean-Sur-Richelieu to Granby, past cornfields, woods, hills, and leafy parks, stopping to sample local cheeses and honey. If you ski the trail in spring, look for sugar shacks offering hearty, traditional meals and maple taffy.
- Caledon Trailway, Ontario: The 25-kilometre Caledon Trailway cuts through velvety green hills, creeks meandering through valleys, fragrant lilacs, and cute little villages lined with Victorians and top-notch B&Bs. The route runs from Terra Cotta to Palgrave on an old rail bed. Make time to explore up-and-coming Hamilton, a former steel town, ideal for picnicking.
- Centennial Trail, Manitoba: Spend a day hiking part of the 35-kilometre Centennial Trail in popular Whiteshell Provincial Park. You won’t need to go far to get a wonderful sense of the Manitoba wilderness, thanks to thick boreal forest, mossy Tolkien-esque bogs, falls, ponds, and craggy, high granite ridges.
- Banff Legacy Trail, Alberta: Alberta‘s Banff-Canmore corridor surrounded by the towering Canadian Rockies is nothing short of jaw-dropping. This is where you’ll find the 22-kilometre, paved Banff Legacy Trail, to be conquered on foot or bike. Stop for a picnic or to read the educational markers on the trail from Banff Park East Gate to Bow Valley Parkway, open mid-April to mid-October, and keep your eyes peeled for wildlife, such as big horn sheep, moose, elk, and bears.
- Dempster Highway, Yukon Territory: Yukon‘s Dempster Highway is a legendary trail extending from the Klondike Gold Fields all the way to the Northwest Territories and Arctic Circle — the only road to do so. The rough, partly un-paved highway is known for its unadulterated wilderness, grizzly, caribou, and wolf-filled forest, and vast tundra. Start in the gold rush boomtown of Dawson City and trek, cycle, or snowmobile the 460-kilometre trail. It’s remote, with few services, and that’s the allure.
- Kettle Valley Rail Trail, British Columbia: The most impressive of British Columbia‘s Trail offerings, the 401-kilometre Kettle Valley Rail Trail is a historic route on the 1915 railway once used to move silver ore from mountains to coast. The 12-kilometre section from Kelowna-Myra Canyon is a must-see. This national historic site offers astounding canyon views from 18 gorge-spanning trestles. Hike or horseback ride in warmer months; Nordic ski and snowmobile in the winter.
The Great Trail: Fast Facts
- At 21,140 kilometres, it’s the longest recreational trail in the world
- 74% of the Trail is on land
- 26% of the Trail is on water
- The Trail connects over 15,000 communities
- 80% of Canadians live within 30 minutes of the Trail