If I were to write an article for hiking experts, my friends would laugh at me. This would be warranted for many reasons, including the fact that I was born in Toronto and that I brought a backpack of books on my first Swiss hike. I have a lot of learning to do when it comes to the great outdoors, but that doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate it with wonder. I love the smell of a forest, still damp from a recent rainstorm. I love hearing the sounds of wildlife around me – the same sounds that are used for relaxation soundtracks in spas. I love that nothing can be anticipated; it can only be experienced. O Canada – I am impressed by thee.
So whether you are Canadian or just visiting, on this 150th anniversary of our awesome country, let’s get outdoors with this list of dream hikes for novices such as myself. I’m even going to leave the books behind.
6641 square kilometers of mountain scenery that will take both your breath and your worries away. You can search the Parks Canada website to download maps, check weather and road reports, and even look up the top things to see within the Park, which includes lakes, canyons and hot springs. Try the Stewart Canyon Trail for a 3km loop hike with no elevation gain to ease in slowly.
Have an interest in hiking some of the Trans Canada Trail? Duck Mountain in Saskatchewan (named for the shape of the rock formations in the Manitoba escapement) has 10 hiking trails totaling more than 25 kilometers. These trails are family-friendly and incredibly scenic.
The sheer size of the parks in Canada showcase the amount of nature we have (as well as our responsibility to protect it). Killarney in Ontario is 645 square kilometers and has over 50 lakes. It may look familiar to you if you studied the Group of Seven in school: these famous Canadian artists were highly influenced by this landscape. The Cranberry Bog Trail in Killarney has been marked as a moderate 4km hike where you may catch a glimpse of all kinds of wildlife, including beavers and turtles.
If your closest experience with loons is the Canadian loonie, you need to hear their unquestionable wail in this Quebec national park. With over 150 lakes, waterfalls aplenty, and the beauty of the Laurentian landscape seen from its many hiking trails, La Mauricie is a must-see. Hikes are as short as 15 minutes in length (such as the La Tourbière Trail, which is home to carnivorous plants and stunning orchids).
Like many Canadian girls, the very first book heroine I loved was Anne of Green Gables. Some of the book series' scenes were inspired by Prince Edward Island National Park, which has hiking trails that traverse varied terrain. Field edges and floating boardwalks are a dream for the inexperienced hiker. Check the Parks Canada website for closures as well as the difficulty level of various hikes.
This Manitoba park is ginormous at 2729 square kilometers, and it is located about 130km from Winnipeg. The Big Whiteshell Trail is 1.5km roundtrip and includes beautiful vistas and frequent wildlife sightings, such as deer and black bears. The Pine Ridge Trail is a little more advanced, but ends up at a swinging rope and swimming area. Yes, please.
This B.C. park was created as part of an agreement created in 1920 to build a new road across the Rockies. If you like canyons, hot springs, and sheer beauty, you will love Kootenay National Park. They have alpine hikes for the seasoned, but also lazy valley walks for those who would rather see their mountains from the ground.
Hopefully this list of parks has inspired you to explore the beauty that Canada has to offer. At Nature's Path we're all about leaving the earth better than we found it. With that in mind, be sure you're respecting the environment while in the park and not leaving any garbage behind. Our responsibility to protect the great outdoors is more important now than ever before!
Want to explore more parks? Check out this list of 8 great national parks for hiking in the US.