It’s difficult to do justice to Canada’s awe-inspiring landscapes.

Words can never fully capture what you see with your eyes: towering snow-capped mountains, azure lakes and lush evergreen forests filled with fascinating wildlife. And perhaps the best way to take it all in? On your own two feet.

Covering nearly 10 million sq km (3.8 million sq miles), Canada was built for adventurous hikers. There are so many gorgeous hiking trails and national parks to explore, you’ll always find a reason to come back, no matter how many hiking holidays you take here.

As you plan your first (or 17th) trip to Canada’s great outdoors, here’s our list of the best hikes in the country, from coast to coast. 

Male moose in the velvet antler stage in northern Newfoundland, Canada
Keep an eye out for wildlife as you hike Newfoundland’s East Coast Trail © Wildnerdpix / Getty Images

1. East Coast Trail, Newfoundland 

Best multi-day hike
336km (209 miles) round trip; 6 days, easy to challenging 

This epic 336km (209-mile) trail, one of the longest in Canada, showcases another bit of the country’s natural beauty with each national historic site, coastal village, forest, cliff and bridge you pass.

The route is divided into 25 wilderness trails – all linked and arranged in a linear fashion. Most people choose a specific trail or two based on their personal comfort levels. The stages range from around 4km (2.5 miles) to 20km (12.4 miles).

It takes around six days of hiking to complete the trail; along the way, you can choose to camp at designated campgrounds or stay at local B&Bs and inns. The East Coast Trail website is an excellent resource to help you choose which paths are best suited for your level of ability. 

 2. Lower Little Harbour Trail, Newfoundland 

Best hike for eerie vibes
4.8km (3 miles); 1½ hours, moderate to challenging

This 4.8km (3-mile) loop takes in just about everything that makes Newfoundland special. Think historic root cellars constructed by early settlers, a natural sea arch, rocky cliffs, scenic stretches of coast, green forests and the remains of a community since abandoned. The empty houses you’ll wander by on parts of this trail give an icy, fingers-on-the-neck vibe.

People walking on the boardwalk along the Skyline Trail, Cape Breton Highlands National Park, Nova Scotia, Canada
Follow the boardwalk of the Skyline Trail for major views of the Gulf of St Lawrence © Olivia ZZ / Getty Images

3. Skyline Trail, Nova Scotia 

Best hike for water views
8.7km (5.4 miles) loop; 2–3 hours, easy

A highlight of Cape Breton Highlands National Park, the Skyline Trail is as dramatic as its dramatic-sounding name suggests. Following a boardwalk that stretches the entire length of the route to protect the area's delicate ecosystems, the hike can be completed as a 7km (4.3-mile) out-and-back hike, or an 8.7km (5.4-mile) loop.

If you can ignore the breathtaking views (this is an especially beautiful place to be at sunset), the wildlife spotting opportunities here are major. We’re talking moose, bald eagles, bears and numerous boreal bird species, plus whales offshore.

A hiker looks out over the Bay of Fundy from Cape Split, Nova Scotia, Canada
Dramatic clifftop views of the Bay of Fundy are your reward after hours of hiking in Cape Split © Dave Reede / Design Pics / Getty Images

4. Cape Split, Nova Scotia 

Best coastal hike
13km (8.1 miles) round trip; 5 hours, moderate

Located on a finger of land jutting into the Bay of Fundy, this 13km (8.1-mile) round-trip trail from Scots Bay takes around five hours to complete. It’s one of the most popular hikes in Nova Scotia, with little elevation change as you pass through a tunnel of forest cover.

The hike ends in a dramatic, windy clearing on cliffs high above the Bay of Fundy, with seabirds nesting below. Wander down to the rocky outcrop at the vertiginous end of the trail to see waves known as tidal rips that flow through a cluster of rock pinnacles. Take time before or after the hike to look for pretty agate stones along the beach at Scots Bay.

5. Fundy Footpath, New Brunswick 

Best hike for experienced wilderness trekkers
49.3km (30.6 miles) one way; 4–5 days, challenging

A bucket-list itinerary for seasoned hikers, the Fundy Footpath is an incredibly challenging wilderness trail in Fundy National Park in New Brunswick. The trail covers 49.3km (30.6 miles) of rugged terrain, with steep changes in elevation. It’s backcountry hiking at its best, and though parts of the trail lie within the national park, the route is infrequently maintained.

It can take up to five days to complete the trek, and the route should only be attempted in the warmer months (the risk of hypothermia sets in from mid-October). Refer to the Fundy Hiking Trail Association planning guide if you plan to tackle this once-in-a-lifetime trail, as the route can be incredibly hazardous – and thrilling. 

6. Parc d’Environnement Naturel de Sutton, Québec 

Best summertime hike
80km (49.7 miles); 2 hours up to several days, easy   

With two glorious lakes and various mountain ponds for swimming, Sutton Park is prime hiking territory in the summer. In this scenic conservation area in Québec, 80km (49.7 miles) of trails have been carved through the thickly forested mountains. Trails cover everything from 2-hour loops to multi-day excursions, and backpackers can unfold their tents at three primitive campgrounds.

On holiday weekends and during warm weather, buy your park tickets ahead of time on the Sutton Park website to guarantee entry. This park is a pretty reliable playground year-round, but sometimes icy winter conditions close the trails; check the park website ahead of time for closures. 

A woman sits on top of a rock and looks at the woods in front of her at Michigiwadinong (the Cup & Saucer Trail), Manitoulin Island, Ontario, Canada
You can take the whole family along the Cup & Saucer trail on Manitoulin Island © Creative bee Maja / Shutterstock

7. Cup & Saucer Trail, Ontario 

Best hike for families 
9km (5.6 miles) round trip; 15 minutes to 4 hours, easy to challenging

Amazing views, interactive adventure experiences and a wide range of possible hike durations (from 15 mins to 4 hours) make this Ontario trail popular with families.

From its origin near the junction of Hwy 540 and Bidwell Rd, around 25km (15.5 miles) southwest of Little Current, this beautiful trail on the Niagara Escarpment leads to the highest point on Manitoulin Island.

At 351m (1152ft), hikers are treated to breathtaking views of the crinkled shoreline along the North Channel. Take a shortcut on the way back along the 500m (1640ft) Adventure Trail, which involves descending on rickety wooden ladders and clambering up, over, and down massive boulders.

A male hiker by Lower Tews Falls, along Bruce Trail, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Waterfalls, woods and (in season) beautiful foliage await along Ontario’s 559-mile-long Bruce Trail © Saffron Blaze / Getty Images

8. Bruce Trail, Ontario 

Best hike for fall foliage
900km (559 miles) one way; hike durations vary, moderate 

The Bruce Trail winds along the top of the Niagara Escarpment for a staggering 900km (559 miles), from Queenston Heights Park on the Niagara Peninsula to Tobermory Harbour on the Bruce Peninsula. The wide, well-maintained path is excellent for hiking during summer, while those armed with cross-country skis put the trail through its paces in winter. Most people tackle the Bruce Trail in short stages.

The best time to hike here is in the fall: Ontario has some of the most vivid fall foliage in the world, and the thick canopy of reds, oranges and yellows is a photographer’s dream. Ontario weekenders love hiking these trails, so be sure to book your parking beforehand. Weekdays are less busy, and you can usually just show up. The Bruce Trail Conservancy has a comprehensive online guide covering how to get passes for the various trailheads.

9. Grey Owl Trail, Saskatchewan 

Best hike for birding
20km (12.4 miles) one way; 10–12 hours, challenging

The Grey Owl Trail offers a serene hike through terrain dotted with wildflowers and patches of marshland, with great birding opportunities and the chance to visit a historic Canadian site in Prince Albert National Park in Saskatchewan.

Most of the trail is under a dense canopy of forest; at the end of the trail, just before you turn back, you can visit Grey Owl’s cabin. This simple structure was formerly the home of the writer and conservation activist Archibald Belaney (aka “Grey Owl”), his partner Anahareo – a member of the Kanienʼkehá:kaor (Mohawk) tribe – and their two pet beavers.

A woman hikes by Lake Agnes, Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada
On your way to the famous Lake Agnes, you’ll pass its beautiful namesake © Paul Biris / Getty Images

10. Lake Agnes & the Beehives, Alberta 

Most iconic Canadian hike
Lake Agnes round trip: 7km (4.3 miles), Big Beehive round trip: 10km (6.2 miles); 2–4½ hours, moderate

Two compelling attractions make this the most popular hike at Lake Louise in Banff National Park, Alberta. First up is the historic Lake Agnes Teahouse, where hikers have been refueling since 1901. At the 3.4km (2.1-mile) mark, it’s a supremely atmospheric spot to break for tea, sandwiches and baked goods.

The second wow factor is the phenomenal view over the lake from atop 2270m (7447ft) Big Beehive, the trail's ultimate destination.

Set off early to beat the crowds, and be sure to check out the Canada Parks page beforehand to make sure the roads to the trailhead are open (closures are common in the snowy months). 

The Johnston Canyon Waterfalls frozen over in winter, Canada
Johnston Canyon’s waterfalls become icy sculptures in winter © Matthew Skubis / Getty Images

11. Johnston Canyon & the Inkpots, Alberta 

Most popular Canadian hike
5km (3.2 miles) round trip; 3–4 hours, easy to slightly challenging 

After the Lake Louise shoreline, no place in Banff National Park sees as much foot traffic as the wide, paved Johnston Canyon Trail. Such popularity makes total sense once you enter the canyon, where dramatic cliff faces compete for your attention with two gorgeous waterfalls (the Lower and Upper Falls). 

The trail to the Lower Falls is around 1.1km (0.6 miles) in length and the walk takes about half an hour, while the hike to the Upper Falls is a little more challenging at 2.6km (1.6 miles), with a slight increase in elevation. More-intrepid hikers can climb to the Inkpots, two colorful natural pools in a high mountain valley.

This area is prone to extreme weather, so be sure to check the Canada Parks Banff website for up-to-date information on any avalanches or flooding. 

A man at a campground looks out at dramatic alpine scenery near Elfin Lake in Garibaldi Provincial Park, British Columbia, Canada
Settle in for the night at Garibaldi Provincial Park © Alex Ratson / Getty Images

12. Garibaldi Provincial Park, British Columbia 

Best overnight hike
25km (15.5 miles) one way; 2 days, moderate

With five different trailheads to choose from and 90km (56 miles) of trails at varying degrees of intensity, Garibaldi Provincial Park is a hiker’s fantasy. Named after its towering namesake mountain – 2678m (8786ft) Mt Garibaldi – this area was established as a provincial park in 1927. Accessible via a long day trip from Vancouver and nestled in the nestled in the Coast Mountains of British Columbia, Garibaldi offers plenty of lakes and scenic vistas to keep you busy.

The longest trail is the hike from the Cheakamus Lake parking lot to the Garibaldi Lake parking lot via Helm Creek. The route covers 25km (15.5 miles) and is best attempted over two days, breaking the trip at the Helm Creek campground. A less ambitious trail of 3km (1.9 miles) links the Cheakamus Lake Parking lot to Cheakamus Lake.

Always check the British Columbia Parks page for trail closures on the morning of your hike, since volatile weather conditions can cause temporary closure of trails.

13. Wild Pacific Trail, British Columbia 

Most informative hike
10km (6.2 miles) round trip; 3–4 hours, easy to moderate  

Where the temperate rainforest comes down to kiss the ocean, this magnificent 10km (6.2-mile) trail is equally spectacular in sunshine and rain. The route starts with a 2.6km (1.6-mile) loop that winds past a lighthouse built in 1915 at Amphitrite Point, then progresses northwest as far as the Ancient Cedars loop and the Rocky Bluffs beyond.

The trail is well signposted and fastidiously mapped. To complete the whole trail, you’ll need to follow a couple of interconnecting paths along quiet roads, passing several attractive beaches on the way.

Various information boards provide background on the area’s history and ecological profile. The path is dotted with benches, lookouts and so-called “artist’s loops” with viewing platforms for those taking time to record the scenery. 

Hikers on the shore of Kinney Lake, Mount Robson Provincial Park, British Columbia, Canada
Gorgeous Kinney Lake is easily accessible © imageBROKER / Mara Brandl / Getty Images

14. Kinney Lake & Berg Lake Trails, British Columbia 

Best scenic hike 
4.5km (2.8 miles) one way; 2½ hours, easy

Situated in stunning Mount Robson Provincial Park, the trailhead for this easy round-trip hike to gorgeous Kinney Lake lies 3km (1.9 miles) north of the Mt Robson Visitor Centre.

From Kinney Lake, the longer, harder Kinney Lake–to–Berg Lake trail covers 23km (14 miles), with seven camping areas along the way. Severely damaged by extreme weather in 2021, the backcountry route has reopened – though reservations are now required, and may be made up to four months in advance.

All Berg Lake hikers must check into the Mt Robson Visitor Centre before heading out, so check with the park authorities for the latest information.

15. Canol Heritage Trail, Northwest Territories 

Best multi-week hike
358km (222 miles) one way; 3–4 weeks, challenging

The wild, challenging Canol Heritage Trail runs southwest through the Northwest Territories for 358km (222 miles), traversing peaks, canyons and barrens until it reaches the Yukon border. Wildlife is abundant, there are numerous deep river crossings, and old Quonset huts provide the only shelter.

The trail was built at enormous monetary and human cost during WWII to transport oil to Whitehorse, the capital of the Yukon Territory (“Canol” is shorthand for “Canadian Oil”). This huge project was abandoned in 1945, with the war nearly over, as cheaper sources of oil were found.

Hiking the whole length of the trail takes three to four weeks; most people arrange food drops along the route. Contact Northwest Territories Tourism for information before you head out, as this is not a hike to be undertaken lightly.

A male hiker on Grizzly Lake Trail, Tombstone Territorial Park, Yukon, Canada
It’s hard to get more remote than the Grizzly Lake Trail in Yukon Territory © Marc Shandro / Getty Images

16. Grizzly Lake Trail, Yukon 

Best hike for major adventure
11km (6.8 miles) round trip; 6 hours, challenging

The Grizzly Lake Trail is located in Tombstone Territorial Park in Yukon, accessible via the Dempster Hwy (a dirt road). The views of the Grizzly Valley along the route will linger long in your memory.

This trail can be tackled as a day trip, but if you plan to stay longer and hike other popular trails at Tombstone – for example, adding another 37km (23 miles) on the Divide Lake and Talus Lake trail – you’ll need to stay overnight.

Campers will need a bear-proof food canister – even though the park’s squirrels will be your most persistent pests. Their favorite foods are sweaty backpack straps and the tops of hiking poles, so make sure to pack these away when you camp.

Book hiking passes well in advance, as they sometimes sell out for the entire year by January. This is a challenging hike, so all trekkers need to complete a mandatory backcountry hiking orientation for safety reasons. This applies even if you’re a seasoned hiker.

Keep planning your trip to Canada:

Curious about Canada? Here are a few things a local wants you to know
Canada is big – here’s how to get around the country
Here’s your four-season guide to the best times to visit Canada

This article was first published Aug 11, 2020 and updated Apr 15, 2024.

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