Hikers admiring the beauty of the Johnston Canyon.

The 10 Best Hikes in Canada

Canada is home to some of the most beautiful and engaging hikes globally, which is not surprising given the sheer size of the country, low population density, and wide spectrum of beckoning ecosystems. Whether you are drawn to the ocean, the mountains, the forest, the prairies, or the tundra, Canada has an unlimited selection of hikes for any fitness or experience level. The following is a list of 10 standouts. 

Grizzly Lake

Grizzly lake
Exploring Grizzly Lake in Tombstone Territorial Park, Yukon.

Tombstone Territorial Park in Yukon can best be described as otherworldly. The ominous, jagged peaks, rocky slopes, unpredictable weather, and vast, secluded landscape suggest a sort of post-apocalyptic environment. But on the other hand, the sun can randomly illuminate the bright green meadows and create gratitude for the wide-open, protected space. The hike to Grizzly Lake via Grizzly Ridge Trail is a great way to explore the wilderness of Northern Canada. The route is 13.6 miles, out-and-back, with a campsite at Grizzly Lake for an overnight option (permits required). While not the most intensive hike around, those heading to the lake will still need good fitness and surefootedness to tackle the elevation and loose rock sections. 

The Rockwall

Rockwall trail
The Rockwall Peak in the Kootenay National Park.

Rockwall trail is a 34 mile, magnificent grind in Kootenay National Park, British Columbia. Most of the hike traverses alongside a continuous, mammoth limestone cliff from which the trail gets its name. Rockwall is typically done in 3 to 5 days, although it is also regularly fast-packed or runs in a single push by dedicated athletes. The trail gains more than 9,000 feet as it ascends 3 mountain passes. Established campsites can be found in the corresponding valleys of each. Day-hikers can get an out-and-back taste by parking at either the Paint Pots trailhead or the frequented Floe Lake trailhead. Through-hikers will have to make arrangements for a shuttle back to their starting point or contend with an extra 8 miles of walking along the shoulder of Highway 93. 

West Coast Trail

West Coast Trail
Group of hikers walking along the Pacific coast line in fog and mist on the West Coast Trail in the Pacific Rim National Park, British Columbia, Canada.

The West Coast Trail is a 47-mile point-to-point trek in Pacific Rim National Park, along the Southwest coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia. The rough, undulating trail alternates between sandy beaches, rocky shorelines, and dense, often muddy, tropical rainforest. There are over 100 wooden ladders to climb throughout and several river crossings to contend with (either via suspension bridges, hand-over-hand cable cars, a mid-way boat crossing, or simply high-stepping across). The layout of the trail, combined with the tide schedule and many irresistible viewpoints, can make the West Coast Trail a slow-going experience that is part of its charm. Prospective hikers must make a reservation in advance, and a mandatory orientation session is required before embarking. Because of the wet conditions and remote settings, between 80 - 100 hikers have to be evacuated each year. Many more sustain major injuries but can exit under their own power. 

The Bruce Trail

The Bruce Trail
Hikers in the Bruce Peninsula National Park.

This 560 mile (approximately) committed journey follows the Niagara Escarpment in Southern Ontario. Though devoid of true mountains, the ruthlessly undulating trail will wear out even the most seasoned backpackers. The sheer magnitude of miles condemns end-to-end hikers with a perpetual heavy load. The trail remains inland for much of its length, thoroughly immersing trekkers in a ubiquitous forest and also passing alongside farmer's fields, and often ascending high onto the rocky escarpment. The most breathtaking portion, and a great section to try for anyone who doesn't have months to dedicate to the full hike, is in Bruce Peninsula National Park. Here the forest-weary soul can recharge in the fresh coastal air of Georgian Bay, traversing the limestone cliffs while gazing out over the turquoise waters. 

East Coast Trail

East coast trail
The Sugarloaf Path on the East Coast Trail.

Cue the Celtic music for this 186-mile trek along Newfoundland's Avalon Peninsula. Hikers can experience the cool breeze and capricious weather swings of the Atlantic Ocean, all while passing through a collection of 26 gorgeous trails. The green grass, deep blue waters, defunct settlements, proud lighthouses, rugged coast, and intriguing rocky formations create a whimsical feel that is unique to Canada's east coast. Though the entire trek is an excellent item for the bucket list, many access points allow for lovely day-hikes.

Skyline Trail

Skyline Trail
Hikers admiring the glorious view of the Rocky Mountains on the Skyline Trail. Editorial credit: christopher babcock / Shutterstock.com

Skyline is a 27 mile, point-to-point, renowned alpine trek in Jasper National Park, Alberta. A large duration of the generally 2 to 4-day hike is above the treeline. This layout ensures stunning, ever-evolving views of the Canadian Rockies throughout the journey. The six designated campsites require advanced bookings, which are notoriously competitive. Because of the strict logistics, this is another hike that sees a good number of runners and fast-packers going for a single-push approach. Some further pre-planning is required in regards to transportation. Multiple vehicles, a pre-arranged pickup, or Jasper's shuttle/taxi services are needed to complete the one-way adventure. 

Johnston Canyon To Ink Pots And Beyond

A hiker in the Johnston Canyon boardwalk.

Not all great hikes have to be long or even difficult. The majestic scenery along every inch of the Johnston Canyon boardwalk in Banff National Park, Alberta, makes it worthy of the top-tier status. This hike has several layers, and each extension thins out the herd. For starters, the paved boardwalk to the Lower Falls (0.7 miles from the trailhead) is doable for absolutely anyone. This means the crowds are dense along the confined path, but this just presents an opportunity to appreciate the cool touch of the canyon walls and the people's high spirits. Continuing the extra mile to the Upper Falls requires more technical footing but is still aided by friendly wooden guardrails. Beyond there, the route goes from a casual walk to a proper hike. The trail is wide and stable for a little over 5 miles beyond the canyon but then steadily gains in elevation. Eventually, a steep drop down opens into a mountain meadow that houses the "ink pots" - six spring water pools with a curious, green hue. From there, full-on trekkers can continue into the backcountry for overnight trips to either Luellen or Mystic Lakes and beyond. 

Centennial Ridges

Centennial Ridges trail
The hiker during Fall season in the ragged trail of Centennial Ridges trail in Algonquin Park, Ontario, Canada.

Some hikes shine at particular times of the year. For Centennial Ridges Trail, near Nipissing, Ontario, that time is in the fall. This 6.5-mile loop trail features many cliffside viewpoints overlooking Algonquin Provincial Park - famous for its beauty and notorious for its bugs. The cooler autumn weather helps take care of the latter and brings brightly colored deciduous trees as far as the eye can see. The mix of red, yellow, orange, and persistent greens creates a rich mosaic backdrop for the entire outing. The length and elevation gain can be considered moderate, but the terrain is rocky and consistently up and down. So don't twist an ankle while marveling at the view. 

Grouse Grind

Grouse Grind
The Grouse Grind route and gondola. Editorial credit: Brester Irina / Shutterstock.com

The Grouse Grind is a short and popular grunt up Grouse Mountain on the North shore of Vancouver, British Columbia. It is affectionately named "Mother Nature's Stairmaster." The heavily-trafficked trail is semi-groomed but still rugged and steep. The beauty of the Grouse Grind is that it has easy access and can be done by anyone fit and determined. The 1.8 miles (one-way) trail ascends 2,800 feet through the mature forest surrounding the slopes of Grouse Mountain. Once the sweeping views of BC's capital city have been sufficiently enjoyed, hikers have the option of retracing their steps or taking the Grouse Mountain Gondola back down. 

Trans Canada Trail

Trans canada trail
Riding a trike along the Trans-Canada trail in St-Joachin, Quebec. Editorial credit: Klod / Shutterstock.com.

The Trans Canada Trail is the longest trail network globally and, therefore, simply had to get a shout-out to cap off this list. A little over 16,500 miles of the TCT are in operation, spanning coast to coast…to coast (i.e., the Pacific, Atlantic, and Arctic Oceans)! This monumental trail was formed by connecting urban paths and existing backcountry networks, all in one gigantic community effort involving local, provincial, and national agencies. Although exceptional people can only cover the record-setting length in favorable circumstances (it has been done), the idea behind the trail was to connect to a broad range of people, piece by piece. In fact, 4 out of 5 Canadians live within a 30-minute drive of the trail. 

Do you feel the wanderlust yet? Well, the good news is this list of amazing hikes barely scratches the surface of what Canada has to offer. Start off with a pleasing day hike, and before you know it, you will be making preparations for one of the multi-day, multi-week, multi-month, or even multi-year adventures throughout this vast and varied land.


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