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10 Difficult Hiking Trails In Canada That Amateurs Should Stay Away From

While there are many hikes throughout Canada that offer amateurs a safe way to reap the benefits of nature, there are many others that require more advanced training, fitness and gear to safely navigate the dangerous topography.

Canada is a wild country with such a vast amount of empty wilderness, it’s easy to find a place to get lost in for days without another human being in sight.  Canada has the longest hiking trail in the world; the Trans Canada Trail crosses the country and boasts 24,000 kilometres of terrain that stretches from the Rocky Mountains in the West to the Atlantic Coast in the East.  Canadians live for the outdoors and love to go hiking and camping whenever the weather allows. While there are many hikes throughout the country that offer amateurs a safe way to reap the benefits of nature, there are many others that require more advanced training, fitness and gear to safely navigate the dangerous topography. If you're thinking about taking a hike in Canada, check the Parks Canada website for up to date, accurate information about these trails so you can be prepared and stay safe.

10. Mantario Trail, Manitoba

Bridge crossing at the Olive Lake Campsite. Danneufeldphoto/Wikimedia.org

 A 66 kilometre trail in Manitoba, this trail is both scenic and difficult as the trail takes you over rough terrain from Big Whiteshell Lake to Caddy Lake.  The hike usually takes about 4 days to complete but depending on your skill, it could take longer as you must navigate your way through bogs, marshes, huge rocky areas, lakes, and rivers.  There is an abundance of wildlife such as deer, beavers, snapping turtles, bears, and birds so take care to leave no trace and store your food properly.

9. The Torngats National Park, Labrador

Nachvak Fjord, Torngat Mountains, Labrador, Canada. Image credit: Paul Gierszewski/Public domain.

The 42nd National Park in Canada, the Torngats do not have an official route or marked trails but from Base Camp and the Research Station hiking information and guides can be found.  It’s a good idea to hire a local guide since there are no trail markers but you’ll need to come equipped with GPS, topographical maps and supplies for your trek.

8. Tombstone Territorial Park, Yukon

Tombstone Territorial Park, Yukon. Image credit: MangoWhoRidesWithChicken/Wikimedia.org

There is no cell service in the area so you won’t be able to rely on data driven technology when you enter Tombstone Territorial Park in the Yukon.  You’ll need to stock up on supplies before heading out to the park and don’t forget your Bear proof canister, you won’t be able to trek without one.  There are easy, moderate, and difficult parts of the trek along the Tombstone Trail but certain areas are considered considerably difficult due to the steep elevation you’ll need to climb.  The trek can take up to 8 days depending on your skill level.

7. Sunshine Village, Alberta to Mount Assiniboine, British Columbia

#7 Sunshine Village, Alberta to Mount Assiniboine, British Columbia

Mount Assiniboine is only accessible by helicopter or by foot and is considered one of the most beautiful hikes in the country as well as the world. The hike from Sunshine Village to Mount Shark is 56 km and takes about 6 days. You’ll need to bring supplies to treat your own water along the trail and make sure you have food stored properly to keep away from bears. Bears are a real concern in this park so take precautions and know what to do in case of an encounter.

6. Pukaskwa National Park-Ontario

The wild coastal trail of Pukaswa National Park. Image credit: theplanetd.com

    The Pukaskwa Trail on Lake Superior near Thunder Bay, Ontario is a tough hike and can be absolutely awful if the weather is bad.  You’ll have to start your hike with a boat ride to the North Swallow on the North Coast of Lake Superior. The first part of the trail is not well marked so it is easy to get lost, for that reason, hiring a guide is a good way to go.  The hike takes about 7 days which means you need to bring about 7 days worth of food with you. One of the biggest challenges of the hike is walking with heavy laden packs over big boulders and along high cliffs.

    5. Alexander Mackenzie Heritage Trail-British Columbia

    The first European to trek across North America was Alexander Mackenzie who was looking for the NorthWest Passage.

    The first European to trek across North America was Alexander Mackenzie who was looking for the NorthWest Passage. This is the longest trek on the list, at 450 km, and is not for the faint of heart.  The trail starts in Quesnel and is quite strenuous and requires a high level of fitness to complete. You’ll need 2 weeks at least and you must arrange for a food drop at the halfway point. Self sufficiency is key as well as a can of bear spray.

    4. The Chilkoot Trail National Historic Site-British Columbia and Alaska

    The Chilkoot Trail National Historic Site. Image credit: Jonathan/Wikimedia.org

    This trail crosses the border between the USA and Canada so don’t forget your passport.  You’ll need to be fully self-sufficient on this hike and make sure you are extremely well prepped and stocked before attempting the Chilkoot Trail.  The hike starts in Alaska and ends in British Columbia. The most difficult part of the trail is “Crossing The Pass” and can take up to 12 hours to do it safely.  The elevation is about 1000 metres and the hike itself is 53 kilometres, which is one of the shorter hikes, but still very formidable given the demanding terrain.  

    3. The Akshayuk Pass-Nunavut

    Summit Lake, Akshayuk Pass, Baffin Island. Image credit: BrettA343/Wikimedia.org

    The Akshayuk Pass in the Auyuittuq National Park on Baffin Island of Nunavut Territory is not only difficult to trek but also difficult to get to.  The trail is in the Arctic Circle and Parks Canada only recommends that experienced arctic, backcountry hikers attempt the trail.  While there are emergency shelters along the way, the land is still wild and remote with possible polar bear encounters. You’ll need to ford the rivers on the trail as well as cross glacier moraines.  The complete Akshayuk Pass is 97 kilometres long and can take up to 12 days to complete.

    2. The West Coast Trail-British Columbia

    #2 The West Coast Trail-British Columbia

    Approximately 60 people per year are evacuated from this 75 kilometre trail due to injury, illness, and hypothermia so make sure your insurance covers emergency evacuation procedures and definitely don’t attempt this trail unless you are an experienced hiker.  This trail was built about 200 years ago, to help people shipwrecked off the coast of Vancouver Island; the jagged cliffs make the shore difficult to access and navigate for anyone stranded there. That stretch of coast called the Juan De Fuca Strait but was then known as The Graveyard of the Pacific as many crews lost their ships there.  The West Coast trail takes about 5-7 days to complete and even experienced hikers consider the trail to be grueling.

    1. The Canol Heritage Trail-North West Territories

    Abandoned trucks on the Canol Heritage Trail. Image credit: Anthony DeLorenzo/Wikimedia.org

    The Canol Heritage Trail in the North West Territories extends to the Yukon and is 355 kilometres long.  This trail is one of the most difficult for it’s remoteness, lack of infrastructure, and difficult terrain.  If you want to hike the Canol Road you need to arrange food drops along the way and carry your camping gear as there are no services en route and the hike typically takes 22 days to complete.  There are 3 rivers you have to cross as well and the water is so cold it will send aches and chills through your whole body; one river actually requires you to swim across. You’ll also need to watch out for Grizzly Bears!

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