8 Scenic Canadian Hiking Trails to Add to Your Bucket List

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Getting out in nature is never a bad idea, and Canada’s stunning landscapes from coast to coast to coast offer exceptional opportunities to wander, see wildlife and experience awe. From glaciers in B.C. to Ontario’s beach trails, discover our favourite hikes in the country whether you’re a rookie or a seasoned pro.

October 30, 2020
A piece of driftwood on the shore of a Middlebrun Bay beach
   Photo: Ontario Parks

Middlebrun Bay, Ontario

  • Difficulty level: Easy

  • Located in Sleeping Giant Provincial Park, this flat four-kilometre trail can be completed in under an hour, including some time for wildlife tracking. (Try spotting bear claw marks on the surrounding spruce trees.) Turn your excursion into a day trip, and soak up the sun on the secluded sandy beach nestled at the end of the trail on the banks of Lake Superior. The glacial shallow waters of Middlebrun Bay warm up on hot summer days, perfect for a refreshing dip.

Two women walk down a path beside a teepee at the Wanuskewin Heritage Parkin Saskatchewan
   Photo: Tourism Saskatoon

Wanuskewin Heritage Park, Saskatchewan

  • Difficulty level: Easy

  • This easy-access trail network is part nature walk, part cultural education. Follow the informative Trail of the People – a four-kilometre path filled with interpretative signs that give visitors insight into the lives of the area’s Cree and Dene people. For a shorter stroll, try the Trail of the Buffalo for views of the South Saskatchewan River or the Trail of Discovery for an archeology fix, where you might run into an archeologist from the University of Saskatchewan working on-site.

Families hiking along a wall of rugged red cliffs at Hopewell Rocks, New Brunswick
   Photo: Kevin Snair

Hopewell Rocks, New Brunswick

  • Difficulty level: Easy

  • Skip the crowds at the 14-metre-high rock formations, and head for the Hopewell Rocks walking trails instead. Connecting several lookout points, they offer scenic views and ample opportunities to spot wildlife. Step onto the ocean floor; at low tide, it’s a 15-minute walk from the visitor centre to the beach. Then trek to Demoiselle Beach, a sandy cove that borders extensive salt marshes, where you are likely to spot waterfowl, deer, moose, red foxes, coyotes and even black bears.

A group of people trekking through the tall grasses of Mantario, Manitoba
   Photo: Brian Hydesmith

Mantario, Manitoba

  • Difficulty level: Intermediate

  • Hardcore marathon runners might complete this trail over the course of 18 hours in October, but for most hikers, Mantario in Whiteshell Provincial Park is a three- to four-day, 60-kilometre adventure. The route is surrounded by boreal forest, where steep ascents up granite ridges meet descents into gullies and ravines, streams and peat bogs. This scenic route is a good primer for longer and more challenging hikes.

A boardwalk along the cliffside of Stawamus Chief, B.C.
   Photo: BC Parks

Stawamus Chief, B.C.

  • Difficulty level: Intermediate

  • A 45-minute drive from Vancouver, this local favourite is an arduous (though not technical) hike that heads straight up a huge stone monolith in Squamish’s Stawamus Chief Provincial Park. The Chief has three peaks that can be reached following the main trail. Start by ascending the second and largest peak for views of Howe Sound and the neighbouring Garibaldi Provincial Park. From this point, pass over the North Gully, a 60-metre gap between the second and third summit, before continuing to Third Peak. Expect chains and ladders on some of the more challenging parts of the hike.

A lake surrounded by lush green hills at the base of Gros Morne Mountain, Newfoundland
   Photo: Cory Decker

Gros Morne Mountain, Newfoundland

  • Difficulty level: Advanced

  • Stretching 16 kilometres to the second-highest peak in Newfoundland, this eight-hour trek in Gros Morne National Park offers a rare chance to explore the Arctic tundra without venturing further north. Keep your eyes peeled for caribou, Arctic hares and rock ptarmigans amid the stunted flora characteristic of this zone, like lichen and alpine bearberry. If you aren’t an experienced hiker, simply enjoy the first four kilometres of the trail, which gradually ascend toward a viewing platform at the base of the mountain. Past this point, experienced hikers should prepare for rapid temperature changes, gusting wind and harsh sunlight as the trail rapidly gains 500 metres of elevation and follows a steep boulder gully.

A pond in the middle of Itijjagiaq's grassy terrain and low mountains
   Photo: David Kilabuk

Itijjagiaq, Nunavut

  • Difficulty level: Advanced

  • The fastest way to travel over land between Iqaluit and Kimmirut, Itijjagiaq Trail is a historic Inuit route that spans the south of Baffin Island. Added to the Trans Canada Trail in 2016, this 120-kilometre trail has a few warming huts and almost no markers. Visitors are required to carry a GPS and need to register at the Katannilik Territorial Park visitor centre. Bonus: This multiday journey will give you the right to brag about having set foot on million-year-old boulders.

A woman at the top of Vimy Peak overlooking Alberta's vast expanse of land and lakes
   Photo: Brett Hamm & Erika Skoglund

Vimy Peak, Alberta

  • Difficulty level: Advanced

  • The first challenge in hiking Vimy Peak is just getting there. It’s a six-kilometre walk, bike or horseback ride just to access the trailhead of this 22-kilometre round-trip journey. But the scramble to the peak, named after the Canadian World War I victory at Vimy Ridge in France, is the most challenging part of the hike. Once there, you’ll be rewarded with views of Crypt Falls, Waterton Lake and the terrain’s transition from prairie to mountains.

  • Pro tip: Pack bear spray and make noise while hiking; grizzlies are common in this area of Waterton Lakes National Park.

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