We’ve written a lot about our favourite things to do in Canada, best adventures and all about the beautiful places of our home country but we realized that we have yet to round up all of the amazing hikes that can be done in the Great White North. So, to help you plan the best outdoor trip, we’ve compiled a resource for the best places to hike in Canada.
As people rethink the way they want to travel in the future, Canada is an excellent choice to get off the beaten path and avoid the crowds. So, if you want to explore one of the greatest adventure destinations on earth, you are going to love all these hikes in Canada.
Where to go Hiking in Canada
Canada is filled with epic hikes and multi-day treks. With 48 national parks and countless provincial parks, the possibilities of finding epic hiking trails in Canada are limitless. We’ve rounded up some of our favourite. If you are looking for trails that have incredible views or offer a challenge, we’ve got a hike for you!
Beautiful Hikes in Canada
Jasper National Park – Alberta
Speaking of Skyline Trail, Jasper National Park has one of its own. The Sulphur Skyline Trail is located 61 km from (37 miles) Jasper town where you catch the trailhead near the Miette Hot Springs parking lot. The 8-kilometer roundtrip is short, but there is a lot of elevation gain at 685 meters so be prepared to huff and puff. But, it is worth the effort as you get to take a dip in the hot springs when you are done.
Check out more hiking in Jasper
Skyline Trail – Nova Scotia
Heading back to the East Coast, the Skyline Trail is a popular trail located in Cape Breton Highlands National Park in Nova Scotia. This is a short hike that is only a couple of hours long (including taking the time to watch the sunset) but it packs a huge punch. Located between Pleasant Bay and Cheticamp on the Northeast side of Cape Breton Island, the Skyline Trail is a 7.5 km loop (4.6 miles) that starts on a wide gravel road before going into a wilderness trail. As you approach the coast, it opens up to a beautiful boardwalk leading down to various lookouts over the Gulf of Saint Lawrence. This is one of the best day hikes on the east coast of Canada.
Banff National Park – Alberta
Banff National Park is Canada’s Oldest National Park and it is filled with day hikes and multi day hikes to suit every need. If you are looking for one of the most beautiful hiking trails in Canada, the Plain of Six Glaciers Trail is a must. This is a very popular trail in Banff National Park, but for good reason.
We have always stated that Lake Louise is one of the most beautiful places in Canada and this trail offers different views of the turquoise glacier lake. The 8.5-mile round trip hike (13.6 km) has a 1250 foot elevation gain and is considered an easy day hike. If you want more of a challenge you can connect to the Lake Agnes trail where you can hike out to the Lake Agnes teahouse to enjoy some tea and crumpets before setting off to climb up the Big Beehive.
Read more about Banff National Park
Grizzly Lake Trail – Yukon
Exploring the Yukon’s Dempster Highway was a dream come true and if you want the rugged and remote, hiking the Grizzly Lake Trail in the Tombstone Territorial Park will take you through the beautiful scenery of the Tombstone Mountains. The total distance is 11 km (6.8 miles) one way, so if you do decide to take on this hike you will need to camp overnight. Registration is required and permits are limited. If you want to get a taste of it, you can do a short day hike and go out and back a couple of km. (a mile or two) Grizzly Bears do roam the Tombstone Mountains so be prepared. Hike in groups, make a lot of noise and hike during the day.
Gatineau Park – Quebec
One of our favourite places to go hiking in Canada is Gatineau Park in Quebec. This beautiful park has several hiking trails taking you to scenic lookouts and historic sites. A short but scenic hike takes you to the Mackenzie King Estate and ruins. It is the most beautiful place in Gatineau Park. But there are other amazing hikes to be had here as well including The Pink Lake Hike that goes along a boardwalk all around the lake, and the Carbide Wilson Ruins hike is definitely worth the trek. Gatineau Park is a 365 square km (139 sq mi) conservation park filled with 165 km (102 miles) of hiking trails. It is a busy park though so arrive early to avoid the crowds as parking is limited.
Epic Hikes In Canada
The Fundy Footpath is one of the greatest hiking trails in Canada. This multi day hike is located in New Brunswick on the Bay of Fundy. It is a challenging hike that is 40 km long (24 miles) along a coastal route that takes in 4 – 5 days to hike. After registering at the Bay of Fundy Interprative Center, hikers make their way across a suspension bridge onto the wilderness trail. It’s one of the more difficult hikes in Canada with a lot of elevation gain and loss but it is worth it as you hike along one of the natural wonders of North America. The Bay of Fundy is home to the world’s highest tides.
Plan your trip to the Bay of Fundy in New Brunswick
Cape Chignecto Coastal Trail – Nova Scotia
If you want a long bucket list hike hike in Nova Scotia, the Cape Chignecto Coastal Trail spans 53 km (33 miles) along the Bay of Fundy. We’ve kayaked along here and done portions of the hike and it is some of the most spectacular scenery in Canada. Home to the World’s Highest tides, you can see the massive volume of water move every six hours where you can actually walk on the ocean floor. It takes 3 – 4 days to do this hike this scenic trail through massive sea cliffs, sandy beaches and lush coastal wilderness.
Many of our favourite hikes in Canada are located in National Parks, if you are planning on doing a lot of hiking in Canada, you may consider a Parks Discovery Pass that costs $139 for a family or $69 per person. This gives unlimited access to Canada’s national parks and over 80 parks in total from coast to coast for 12 months! You can purchase this online here.
West Coast Trail – British Columbia
The West Coast Trail is Canada’s ultimate bucket list multi day hiking trail. Located in the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve on British Columbia’s Vancouver Island, The West Coast Trail is a beautiful coastal hike through sandy beaches, and sea caves along a beautiful coast. Only hikers with backcountry experience should attempt this hike as it is a 75 km (46 miles) to Pacino Bay to Gorden River. It takes about 6- 8 days to hike along the rugged West Coast of British Columbia.
The terrain is considered difficult and hikers need to be prepared to climb 100 ladders while hoisting their heavy backpacks. You’ll be doing river crossings, taking cable cars and trudging through mud. It is located in British Columbia so you can count on at least some rain on the West Coast Trail. You need to make reservations to hike the West Coast Trail. To book your spot, visit the West Coast Trail Website.
Plan your trip to British Columbia
Pukaskwa National Park – Ontario
Sticking around Ontario, Pukaskwa National Park is the province’s answer to the West Coast Trail. The Pukaswka Coastal Hiking Trail is a 60 km long backcountry trail following the shores of Lake Superior. Naturally Superior Adventures offers shuttles to Pukaskwa National Park where you will take a boat shuttle from the park’s headquarters to North Swallow 60 km (37 miles) up the coast of Lake Superior.
All gear needs to be carried in and out, so packs are heavy with food. Make sure to pack a Steripen to purify the water that you’ll gather from Lake Superior. The hike is very picturesque taking you along high sea cliffs, deserted sandy beaches, and rocky terrain.
Plan your trip to Lake Superior
Bruce Trail – Ontario
Located in Ontario, the Bruce Trail is a 900 km (559) footpath from Niagara to Tobermory winding through the Niagara Escarpment. The entire journey can take more than 30 days to hike, but most people do portions of the Bruce Trail taking their time to see it over years. It is Canada’s oldest and longest footpath and is extremely popular as it takes you through thick forest, rolling countrysides and huge boulders and cliffs. If you do hike it from end to end, make a note that camping is not possible on the entire section. Sometimes you will have to sleep in accommodations. Portions of the trail can get very busy.
Get more Ontario Information along the Bruce Trail
Ivvavik National Park – Yukon
If you are looking for hiking in Canada that takes you off the grid, Ivvavik National Park is the place to be! Fewer people visit Ivvavik than climb Mount Everest so it is truly bragging rights. Located in the extreme northwest corner of the Yukon, Ivvavik can only be reached by plane and it drops you off in the center of Northern Yukon and Mackenzie Delta. You can book trips through Parks Canada who will take you on guided hikes through the British Mountains. Guides are mandatory as this is Grizzly Bear country In fact, the parks tents are set up right along the Grizzly Bear highway. Hiking here offers true bragging rights as it is one of the most isolated places in North America.
Cup and Saucer Trail – Ontario
Making our way back to Ontario, we want to show you a hike that is located on the largest freshwater island in the world. The Cup and Saucer Trail is located on Manitoulin Island and probably offers one of the most Instagram-worthy photographs out of all the best hiking trails in Canada. The trail’s epic climax takes you up to a lookout over Georgian Bay and the entire island 70 metres (210 feet) above the forest. Looking over the escarpment, lakes, and wetlands will take your breath away. Just don’t get too close!
Garibaldi Provincial Park – British Columbia
No best Canadian hikes article would be complete without including the Sea to Sky Highway in Whistler. This hike takes you to a beautiful alpine lake where you’ll climb for nine kilometers (one-way) to Girabaldi Lake. With an elevation gain of 820 meters it is a steady climb. Even though it is an 18 km (11 miles) hike round trip it can be done in a day since it is all downhill on the way back. But if you are unsure, you can camp on this hike. Just make sure to book your campsite in advance.
Forillon National Park – Quebec
Another beautiful destination to go hiking in Quebec is Forillon National Park. Located on the Gaspé Peninsula, Forillon National Park houses a handful of epic Canadian hikes ranging from short half-hour hikes to day hikes. The Mont-Saint-Alban is a 7km (4.3 miles) loop that takes you up to epic views from a towering sea cliff and Les Graves is a longer 15.2 km (9.8 miles) round trip hike where you’ll get to view a lighthouse standing atop a 95-meter-high cliff. There is a good chance you’ll see whales off the coast too!
Killarney Provincial Park – Ontario
Ontario Canada is our home province so you’ll find that we recommend a lot of hikes here. We have chosen to also include Killarney Provincial Park for its ties to Canada’s Group of Seven Painters. The La Cloche Silhouette trail was made famous by Franklin Carmichael who painted the La Cloche Mountains on the north shore of Lake Huron (the painting can be seen at the McMichael Gallery in Ontario. Thanks to their love for the area and their efforts to make sure it was preserved, there are now pristine hiking trails throughout Killarney. The La Cloche Silhouette Trail is an 80 km (50 miles) loop that takes 8 – 10 days you can do portions of the trail. Other trails in the park range from easy day hikes from 2 km to 6 km hikes.
Grey Owl Trail – Manitoba
We cannot leave out Manitoba. While we have visited more for seeing polar bears and beluga whales, Riding Mountain National Park offers lovely hikes in Manitoba. The Grey Owl Trail in Riding Mountain National Park takes you out to the cabin of Archibald Stansfeld Belaney (aka Grey Owl) which is a 20 km pilgrimage out to the cabin of Grey Owl who was considered Canada’s first naturalist. He married an Ojibway woman named Angele Egwuna and in 1931 a cabin was built for them. They later settled in nearby Prince Albert National Park (which I have had the pleasure of visiting in the winter) where he wrote his books Pilgrims of the Wild, Sajo and Her Beaver People, and Tales of an Empty Cabin. This is truly one of the must-do hikes in Canada not only for its history but for the scenery and wildlife you’ll spy along the way.
Bucket List Canada Hike
East Coast Trail – Newfoundland
The East Coast Trail is on our bucket list. This is a trail we haven’t conquered yet as we haven’t been to Newfoundland and Labrador yet, but once we make it to Newfoundland, you can be sure that the East Coast Trail will have a lot more information on our list! This 336 km hiking trail is one of the greatest challenges in North America, but you don’t have to trek it all. I have a feeling we’ll just be doing a portion of this hike. We’ll let you know when we do!
Hiking in Canada is one of our favourite things to do. Even in the winter, we love to get on the trails and do some snowshoeing. This country was made for walking and we hope that you can get outdoors to explore it as well. It is one of the few countries where you can truly get off the beaten path while hiking and not see another soul.
Best Gear for Hiking in Canada
We’ve made some suggestions for hiking gear that you should have on your for hiking in Canada. This can be mixed and matched. Some day hikes require nothing more than water and snacks while others, going into the back country need a little more planning.
- SteriPen – To purify water from lakes and rivers
- Camelback Hydration backpack – I’m a fan of hands free when hiking. This hydration pack holds your gear and has a 2 liter resevoir.
- Garmin inReach Mini – If you are going into the backcountry without a guide, it is a good idea to have sattelite communications.
- Convertible Pants – Being able to change from pants to shorts is important. It can be cold in the morning and hot in the afternoon when hiking in Canada so you want options.
- Waterproof Gore-Tex Shell Jacket – We’ve found that it worked for all outdoor activities. We wore this shell ice climbing, snowboarding snowshoeing and, skijoring.
- Buffs – I am a fan of buffs when hiking. They can be great for keeping the head warm in the mornings and evenings and to be used as a light hat or headband.
- Smart Wool socks – Even in the height of summer, wool socks are great to hike in. They keep blisters way, wick away moisture and heat and dry quickly.
- Trekking Poles have saved our bacon more than once when hiking.
- Peak Hat with Flashlight – You should always keep your head face and eyes protected. This hat also has LED lights for when the sun goes down and you can hike hands free.
- Moleskin – Great for blisters if you feel one comin gon and helps to protect blisters if you get one when hiking.
We hope you enjoyed seeing these iconic hiking trails in Canada. Have you gone hiking in Canada? Where should we go next?
Read More about Travels in Canada
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