Canada has its’ fair share of long distance and backpacking trails.
I tend to think of Europe when I think of long distance hiking trails or walks. Maybe they’ve just done a better job of publicizing them.
But in Canada there are long distance and backpacking trails in every province and territory.
Here are 37 long distance and backpacking trails.
Hiking boots come in all shapes and sizes
Some are built only for hiking, some are shared use trails. Almost all of the National Parks have extensive trail systems with many multi-day backpacking trips possible, though only a few of those are mentioned.
Many, but certainly not all of the trails are designed for adventurous folks with expert navigation and wilderness skills. Fortunately there are still plenty that are well marked with multiple access points so they can be done in sections as you have the time.
With the summer hiking season just around the corner it’s time to start making plans.
Here’s a list and a brief description of many of Canada’s long distance hiking trails.
British Columbia Hiking Trails
- The West Coast Trail is one of the most popular long distance trails in Canada with up to 8000 people per season tackling the strenuous 75 kilometre (45 mile) section of beach and rain forest between Bamfield in the north and Port Renfrew in the south. Allow 6-8 days. You can download a free guide here.
A beautiful coastal section on the West Coast Trail
- The Juan de Fuca Trail, is a 47 kilometre (29 mile) strenuous but well-marked trail that follows the coast from Port Renfrew to the small town of Jordan River. It’s reportedly easier than its northern neighbour, the West Coast Trail, and perfect if you have three to four days. You can also hike it in sections because of its multiple access points.
The Juan de Fuca Trail near Botanical beach
- The North Coast Trail at the northern end of Vancouver Island offers 43 kilometres (27 miles) of tough and often extremely muddy trail that runs from Nels Bight in Cape Scott Provincial Park to Shushartie Bay. Add in another 15 kilometres to get to the trailhead at San Josef River. You might see black bears, cougars, wolves and seals, sea lions and sea birds.
- The Nootka Island Trail takes you approximately 35 kilometres (22 miles) from Louie Bay on the north side of the island to Friendly Cove on the south side – and for that you need to allow 5-7 days. This is another tough trail but it rewards with beautiful beaches and quintessential west coast scenery.
- The Sunshine Coast Trail in the Powell River area takes you 180 kilometres (112 miles) from the Desolation Sound area in the north to Saltery Bay in the south. There are over twenty access points to choose from but if you do it in one go, allow at least 10 days.
Free hut on the Sunshine Coast Trail
- The Stein Valley trails in Stein Valley Nlaka’pamux Provincial Park, east of Whistler, are notoriously arduous. The 52 kilometre (32 mile) hike from Blowdown Pass to the Stein trailhead near Lytton requires four to five days. The scenery is reportedly excellent but the trails can be very tough going and you need excellent route finding skills.
- The 420 kilometre (260 mile)Alexander Mackenzie Heritage Trail (also known as the Nuxalk-Carrier Grease Trail) takes you from Bella Coola in central BC to Quesnel. Allow three weeks though it’s possible to do the 80 kilometre section through Tweedsmuir Provincial Park in a week. This historic trail was used by the native people to transport fish grease to the interior for trading.
- The Telegraph Trail follows an historic telegraph line for 100 kilometres (62 miles) between Quesnel and Hazelton.