Excerpted from Explore Magazine, 2017
* indicates trails I have done.
BERG LAKE TRAIL*
Mount Robson Provincial Park, near the BC/Alberta border,
Length – 23-kilometre
Berg Lake Trail is like a highlight reel for the Rocky Mountains. Under the shadow of 3,959-metre Mount Robson—the high point in the Canadian Rockies—you’ll wander past emerald-coloured Kinney Lake and near thundering Emperor Falls, entranced by dramatic mountain vistas throughout. Some lucky trekkers may even catch a glimpse of giant chunks of ice calving from the Mist, Berg and Robson glaciers. Of course, all this scenery draws a crowd—Berg Lake Trail is now managed by a reservation system, which opens annually on January 2.
Personal Experience: This deserves the #1 rating and my fave hike in Canada. Robson is spectacular, the glacier and hike to the pass a highlight.
2. WEST COAST TRAIL*
Pacific Rim National Park, British Columbia
Length: 76 km
Running along the west coast of Vancouver Island, in Pacific Rim National Park, the famous West Coast Trail attracts trekkers from around the globe. Originally forged to offer shipwreck survivors a route to safety, today, it’s a reservation-managed three- to six-day bucket-list backcountry hike. Camping near Tsusiat Falls and the vertigo-inducing ladders of the southern half are two notable aspects of this trail—but every day is memorable on the WCT. Keep an eye out for offshore whales, and bring some cash to buy a hamburger at Chez Monique ($25), the beloved halfway respite.
Personal Experience:When doing my internship in Victoria for one year, I did solo in 1977 in 3.5 days. This was before boardwalk and ladders, many bogs and a big blowdown near Renfrew end, no Moniques, or crab and beer. Repeated in about 2003 with partner in 7 days. Started in Renfrew with boat ride to Bamfield. In 2016, as part of the Japanese Tsunami cleanup, I was on the helicopter crew that retrieved bagged garbage from the north 44kms of the WCT. I was dismayed with all the fishing buoys hanging frm
3. CHILKOOT TRAIL*
Linking northern BC and Alaska, and an absolute classic for two countries, this 53-kilometre trek has been a backpacker’s must-do for decades. Forged by First Nations, used extensively by fortune seekers during the Gold
Rush and operated today as a reservation-managed multi-day hike, the Chilkoot Trail is a challenging slog that pays dividends in scenery, solitude and historical wonders. With a short season— mid-June to early September— inclement weather (expect snow in July) and hardy sections like The Pass, you’ll want to be in top-shape and well-prepared. And remember your passport—you cross the U.S./Canada border midway.
Personal Experience: I backpacked with Jan Micklethwaite as part of a four-day tour with Sea to Sky run by Jan’s good friend Len. Rainforest to alpine, history at almost every step, spectacular.
4. BLACK TUSK*
Garibaldi Provincial Park
The skeleton of an ancient volcano, Black Tusk is the most recognizable prominence in Garibaldi Park. See it up close on a multi-day wilderness trek accessed via the Black Tusk/Garibaldi Lake Area, 40 kilometres north of Squamish. The route to Garibaldi Lake is nine kilometres of picturesque, moderately challenging switchbacks; at the lake, you’ll find 50 tent sites, four cooking shelters and pit toilets. Pitch a tent here and fuel up before tackling the seven-kilometre trek (850 metres of elevation gain) to the base of Black Tusk. It is possible to climb the Tusk, but only skilled mountaineers should attempt this. Camp overnight at Garibaldi Lake and return to your car in the morning, or stay several days and
explore the region’s copious trails.
Personal Experience. Day hike in 90’s sometime. Wonderful mountain.
5. SUNSHINE COAST TRAIL
Powell River, BC
The Sunshine Coast Trail showcases 180 scenic kilometres through the mountains, along the coastline and past the lakes of BC’s northern Sunshine Coast. It’s Canada’s longest hut-to-hut hiking trail, and the only free one—built and maintained by the Powell River Parks & Wilderness Society. Hikers can explore routes from a few hours, to a full day, to a week or more—overnighting at the 12 huts and 20-odd campsites along the way. If you have 10 to 12 days, try the whole route in one push! And make sure to buy an SCT Passport at the Powell River Visitor Centre to document your achievement— and to receive congratulatory goodies from local supporting businesses.
6. THE ICELINE TRAIL*
Yoho National Park, BC
Length 18 or 21 kms
This is one of BC’s most picturesque Rocky Mountain hikes. With two lengthy circuits (Little Yoho, 18 kilometres and
Celeste Lake, 21 kilometres; trailheads located four kilometres east of Field, BC) and offering nearly 700 metres of elevation gain, day-hikers wishing to tackle this route should be in stout physical condition. So-named as the path follows the lower edge of a series of glaciers, expect scree slopes, babbling mountain streams, glaciers, snow fields, the occasional meltwater lake and tear-inducing Rocky Mountain environs throughout. The hike culminates with an unobstructed photo-op at 380-metre-tall Takakkaw Falls. If you’d like to take more time to ponder the environment in quiet contemplation, you can overnight on this trail at the Little Yoho Campground, about 10 kilometres into the path, or at the Stanley Mitchell ACC Hut (reservations required), about 11 kilometres from the trailhead.
Personal Experience. Dayhike with Barb Stein, 28km via Twin Falls. Beautiful.
7. TROPHY MOUNTAIN ALPINE MEADOWS
Wekks Gray Provincial Park, British Columbia
Length: 12 kms
Sprawling Wells Gray Provincial Park is one of BC’s Thompson Region gems— offering thick evergreen forest, azure lakes (including Murtle, the world’s largest canoe-only lake), robust Helmcken Falls and hikes galore. The Trophy Mountain area, a 6,900-hectare portion of the park, is accessed via Bear Creek Correctional Centre Road (gravel), north of the town of Clearwater. Within an hour of setting out, you’ll be in flowery sub-alpine meadow, followed by alpine spruce and fir trees and even more meadow as you meander to Sheila Lake. A light scramble from there leads you to the broad views of Skyline Ridge, about three hours after you started. Enjoy the mountain air and surrounding 2,500-plus-metre peaks before retracing your path to your car.
8. PLAIN OF THE SIX GLACIERS*
Banff National Park
Length: 12 kms
Starting at the busy Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, follow the emerald shoreline to the far end (where the crowds thin) to begin your climb. Switchbacks treat you to monumental views over the lake, glaciers and pyramidal peaks. You may even spot a shaggy mountain goat. Reward yourself with a cuppa at Lady Agnes Tea House at the top, and continue for an additional 1.5 kilometres to the worthy Victoria Glacier viewpoint. This national parks classic hike never loses its luster, no matter how many hiking boots tread its path.
Personal Experience: One of the classics of the Rockies. Have done several times including after descending from Abbot Pass via the ledges around Lefroy (that was the end of one of the most spectacular 7-day backpacking trips in the world from the Paintpots, Morraine Lake, Lake O’Hare, all in ACC huts.
9. THE SKYLINE TRAIL
Jasper National Park
The 42-kilometre-long Skyline Trail is Jasper National Park’s signature backpacking trail—a scenic showpiece that meanders above the treeline for more than half of its distance. Expect a workout—the elevation gain from Maligne Lake is more than 1,200 metres—but it’s worth it, as one of the most stunning of all hikes in Canada’s Rocky
Mountain national parks. Pack your camera—this trek is home to woodland caribou, grizzly bears and grey wolves. While some intrepid folks have jaunted through the trail in a day, most spend two to three days in this high-elevation (2,510 metres maximum) environment to fully appreciate its beauty. The trailhead is at Maligne Lake; backcountry permit is required for camping. The trail is linear, so book transport with Maligne Shuttle.
10. TAMARACK TRAIL*
Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta
This is the premier multi-day hike in Waterton Lakes National Park—it’s particularly popular in autumn, as the
Tamarack tree, otherwise known as the larch, is in fall blaze during that time and is abundant throughout the route. To access, take the Tamarack Hikers Shuttle to the Red Rock Canyon trailhead (the route is one-way). From the trailhead,
this path takes you through vibrant larch trees and evergreens, over sprawling alpine meadows, through rockbound peaks—this is Waterton’s highest-elevation trail—and back to the townsite. There are three campsites along the route; backcountry permits are required.
Personal Experience: Hiked in Waterton for 17 summers.
11. LARCH VALLEY – SENTINEL PASS*
Banff National Park
The Rocky Mountain’s larch trees are the most spectacular of all Canada’s fall foliage—as their needles turn from green to gold (the only conifer to do so) they seem to glow like Christmas lights. Combine this with postcard Rockies’ scenery and it’s no wonder Larch Valley-Sentinel Pass is one of Banff’s most sought-after dayhikes—though it’s stunning throughout the season, fall colours or not. Stretching for 12 kilometres from the parking lot on moraine.
Lake Road, don’t let the hike’s popularity fool you into thinking it’s a cakewalk. Grizzlies are known to roam the area, and it has an elevation gain of more than 700 metres. The trail starts alongside glacial Moraine Lake, before giving up views of the famous Valley of the Ten Peaks. Chase after 3,500-metre Mount Temple for a few hours and you’ll reach Sentinel Pass and a knee-weakening panorama of Paradise Valley. Beat the crowds—hit it on a weekday.
Personal Experience: Did in about 2-3 with Barb Stein as part of climbing Mt Temple, the easiest 11,000′ peak in the Rockies.
12. THE BOREAL TRAIL
Meadow Lake Provincial Park, Saskatchewan
Officially opened five years ago, the 120-kilometre Boreal Trail is Saskatchewan Parks’ only officially designated
backpacking trail. Meandering through lush Meadow Lake Provincial Park, a 1,600-square-kilometre beauty in the province’s northwest, hikers can choose to embark on a multi-day tour of this east-west route—spending days beneath
poplar, jack pine and spruce trees and falling asleep to a loon’s call at one of the plentiful back- and front country
campsites—or tackle it in smaller stages for easy day-hikes. Keep your camera ready for moose, beaver and wolf sightings and always be Bear Aware; this is bigtime bruin country. Terrain is gentle with minimal elevation gains—the
challenge comes in the distance. Some front-country campsites feature stores for re-supplying and hot showers. Saskatchewan Parks recommends registering two weeks prior to hiking the trail if you wish to overnight in the backcountry.
13. GREY OWL’S CABIN
Prince Albert National Park, Saskatchewan
Grey Owl—a.k.a. Englishman Archibald Stansfeld Belaney—maybe one of Canada’s strangest historical figures; however, his message of conservation, as our country’s first naturalist, still rings true. If you’d like to pay homage, take a hike to his cabin and burial site in Prince Albert National Park. Accessed via Kingsmere Road, 33 kilometres from the town of Waskesiu, the route follows the eastern shoreline of Kingsmere Lake, and has three campsites en route plus one at either end. The cabin sits alongside Ajawaan Lake. This is all-backcountry—pack-in, pack-out—though bear caches, firewood and pit-toilets are available at the campsites. Park-use fees and a backcountry camping permit apply. The path is typical Canadian Shield terrain and should take less than six hours each way. For a quicker way to the cabin, a threehour paddle across Kingsmere Lake, plus a 600-metre portage to Ajawaan Lake, bypasses the hiking route.
14. PISEW FALLS to KWASITCHEWAN FALLS
Paint Lake and Pisew Falls Provincial Parks, Manitoba
The eight hours it’ll take you to drive to Pisew Falls Provincial Park from Winnipeg (via Highway 6) has a way of
thinning out the crowds, as does the 22 kilometres of backcountry trails between the province’s two highest
waterfalls—you may just find your party totally alone. The trailhead starts at 13-metre-high Pisew Falls, proof there are elevation changes in this pancake province, before winding through 22 kilometres of marked trail en route to the 14-metrehigh Kwasitchewan Falls. Camp overnight at one of the free backcountry campsites here; some industrious trekkers have knocked this route off in a day. Pack-in, pack-out; pit toilets are available at the campsite. This hike
follows the Grass River, a famous 18th century fur-trading route.
15. THE MANTARIO TRAIL
Whiteshell Provincial Park, Manitoba
Whether you choose to tackle the three- or four-day end-to-end route of Manitoba’s classic backpacking route or knock-off a day-trip segment, the Mantario Trail delivers a hard-hiking challenge only two-and-a-half hours’ drive east of Winnipeg. Despite being reasonably well-known and relatively close to the province’s largest city, it’s far from crowded. Expect heaving Precambrian Shield terrain, granite cliffs, beaver dams, fallen timber, peat bogs, steep gullies, jack pines and maple trees. There are 10 primitive campsites along the route, with fire pits and food storage boxes and, maybe, a picnic table or two. The trail is well-marked, and water can be accessed at many points throughout. Parking is at the north and south trailhead—keep in mind this is not a loop; you’ll have to arrange return transport. The Mantario Trail is best in fall, as spring’s floods can be troublesome and summer’s bugs are brutal.
16. HIGHLAND BACKPACKING TRAIL
Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario
Length: 19 or 35kms
Offering two loops, 19 or 35 kilometres, this is a challenging multi-day backpacking route. The trailhead begins near the well-serviced Mew Lake Campground (near the Bat Lake trailhead). Expect several steep climbs and technical
sections throughout; keep your camera ready for various birdlife, including owls, hiding in the dense trees. You can loop back after camping at Provoking Lake (19 kilometres return trip) or continue on for the full loop, which takes you past Head and Harness Lakes (35 kilometres return). Expect plenty of viewpoints and several waterfalls; an Interior Camping Permit is required to overnight on the route.
17. BRUCE TRAIL
You can certainly try to hike the entire 885- kilometre-long Bruce Trail in one non-stop effort. People have done it. But most tend to bite off smaller chunks—a day hike here, a weekend there, camping or staying at hotels and B&Bs along the way. Revel in the lush Carolinian forest, enjoy views of Lake Ontario in the south and Georgian Bay in the north, and generally appreciate the serenity along Canada’s oldest andlongest continuous footpath. Some of the most remote trails are found on the Peninsula Section; the views from the Blue Mountains are jaw-dropping; and routes along the Niagara Escarpment lead to world-famous wineries. Waterfall hunters should head to the Iroquoia Section—but really,
you can’t go wrong on the Bruce. (And the fall leaf show is spectacular!) Looking for ashort leg to start? Try the sixkilometer Cape-Dundas Loop, on the Bruce Peninsula.
Personal Experience. Did a short day hike. Again anticlimatic after hiking in real mountains all my life.
18. COASTAL TRAIL
Lake Superior Provincial Park
One of Ontario’s most scenic hikes, the Coastal Trail follows the rocky shores of Lake Superior for just over 60 kilometres, treating trekkers to expansive vistas, secluded cobblestone or sandy beaches, dizzying lookouts and challenging terrain. Access the Coastal Trail at Agawa Bay if you’d like to hike the whole route, or, day-hikes can be done from points along the trail, such as Sinclair Cove, Katherine Cove or Agawa, but you’ll have to retrace your steps; there are no loops. The trail is well-marked by blue-diamond signs; it generally follows the coastline if you get sidetracked. Almost all of the backcountry campsites feature sunset views; bald eagles are particularly abundant along the trail. Warp and Gargantua Bays are especiallyworthy of exploration; set up camp here and enjoy day’s worth of side trips, if you can spare the time.
19. TOP OF THE GIANT (KABEYUN TRAIL)*
Sleeping Giant Provincial Park, Ontario
This is the signature hike of Sleeping Giant Provincial Park. Located near Thunder Bay, on Highway 587, ensure you’ve packed plenty of water and your cardio is up to snuff before tackling this heavy-duty hike—the reward is a panorama of Lake Superior from one of the highest points in Ontario. Featuring 300 metres of elevation gain,this hike starts at the South Kabeyun trailhead, which meanders alongside the lake until Tee Harbour; but don’t be fooled by the relatively easy start. After this seven-kilometre jaunt, you’ll hit the Talus Lake Trail, and the route will begin to slop decidedly upwards. The next section is a steep, zigzagging route, followed by a slightly less intense cool-down path to the lookout. Eat your picnic lunch next to the 200-metre cliffs and stand in awe of colossal, deep-blue Lake Superior. Return the way you came. Note: if you want to expedite your trek, mountain bike along the Kabeyun Trail, then hike from Tee Harbour onward.
Personal Opinion. This was one of the most boring hikes I have ever done. After a long boring hike through bush, the view from the “summit” was of virtually nothing – in a group of trees with no view. There was some views of the lake from the cliffs on the west side. But after hiking and climbing in the Rockies and interior of BC all of my life, this was not much. I guess if you have to live in Ontario, this is as good as it gets. I would log the top – make it one long ridge with great views. Trees tend to ruin hiking.
20. LA CLOCHE SILHOUETTE TRAIL
Killarney Provincial Park, Ontario
Travelling 100 kilometres though some of Killarney Provincial Park’s hilliest terrain, La Cloche Silhouette Trail is a stout challenge for experienced hikers. Starting in the west, the linear route rambles through forested hills toward scenic lakes. You may have to cross a few streams; excellent wildlife-watching abounds. Soon, you’ll be enjoying views of Georgian Bay as you hike over billion-year-old pink granite. In the eastern section, the trail ascends towards The Crack. The sparkling white quartzite cliffs are worth the effort; this area was once higher than the Rocky Mountains. There are 54 campsites along the route (permit required). Fall is the best time to tackle La Cloche, for the vivid foliage and nightly wolf-howls.
21. LES LACS & LES CRETES
Forillon National Park, Quebec
Length: 16-17 kms
Tucked away at the edge of Quebec’s Gaspe Peninsula, Forillon offers not only exemplary Maritime scenery, it’s also a gateway to the International Appalachian Trail. Experienced hikers should head to Les Lacs (17 kilometres one-way) or Les Cretes (16 or 18 kilometres, one-way) Trails. Les Lacs follows the Riviere Morris Valley, has a wilderness campsite about six kilometres along and passes Lac au Renard, Penouille and other scenic stillwaters before connecting to the 3,058-kilometre-long Appalachian Trail. As a more mountainous route, Les Cretes offers vistas of the Gulf of St. Lawrence and Anse-au- Griffon Valley, has campsites at five and 10 kilometres along and connects to other trails (such as Les Graves) leading to the easternmost tip of the park, which stabs like a pointed finger into Gaspé Bay.
22. DEUX – CRIQUES TRAIL
La Mauricie National Park, Quebec
Come autumn, Quebec’s La Mauricie National Park, near Shawinigan, is an explosion of vibrant reds, oranges, yellows
and gold—and Deux-Criques (TwoCreeks) Trail could offer up some of the best views in all the Laurentians. A challenging dayhike suitable for trekkers with strong cardio and a willingness to climb, the trailhead is located near Riviere a la Peche Campground and will take you on an uphill march for the next 8.5 kilometres. Expect some well maintained stairs and scramble-worthy rock sections and you’ll have to ford a creek (which is at its lowest in fall)—but the payoff is multiple lookout points (many with platforms or benches), including Ruisseau de Fou Falls. The campground at the trailhead offers secluded sites (some with electricity), kitchen shelters, drinking water, flush toilets and showers.
23. FUNDY FOOTPATH
Bay of Fundy, New Brunswick
The time to hike New Brunswick’s Fundy Footpath is now. Still relatively unknown, you can expect near-total solitude on this difficult, four-day, 42- kilometer trek along the Bay of Fundy coastline. But
word is getting out—and for good reason. Vistas rom atop 100-metre-tall sea cliffs; empty beaches manipulated by extreme Fundy tides; thick mixed-woods forests—and did we mention zero crowds? This is for experienced hikers only. If your skill level isn’t quite there, try day-hikes on the nearby Fundy Trail—a maintained mixed-use network accessible for most people that still offers those wonderful views.
24. MOUNT CARLETON
Mt. Carlton Provincial Park, New Brunswick
Set amid 1,700-square-kilometres of Acadian woodlands and the continent’s oldest mountains, this Maritime high namesake provincial park, stretching to nearby Mount Sagamook and Mount Head. The 10-kilometre route presents an intermediate-level challenge, and the 820-metre peak is adorned with an old fire tower. Two trail options lead from the parking lot to the top; make this summit-hike a loop for a change of scenery on the return jaunt.
25. LIBERTY LAKE TRAIL
Kejimkujik National Park, Nova Scotia
More than 80 per cent of Nova Scotia’s Kejimkujik National Park is classified as “backcountry” and there are 46 designated campsites that can only be accessed via canoe or bootleather. At each, expect tent pads, fire pits, pit privy and cables to hoist your food clear of bears. So, when exploring the traditional home of the Mi’kmaq, where does one start? For the quintessential Keji experience, tackle the 64-kilometre Liberty Lake Trail. There are 11 options for backcountry camping along the route; though three or four nights out is a good rule of thumb. Lakes, babbling brooks, loons and moose will be your companions as you loop your way through mixed softwoods en route to Campsite 42—the most remote in the park’s entire 404-square-kilometres. Bonus: Kejimkujik is a Dark Sky Preserve, so the night-time scenery rivals the daytime.
26. FISHING COVE TRAIL
Cape Breton Highlands National Park, Nova Scotia
From the top of 355-metre Mackenzie Mountain, this trail winds through mixed-woods forest alongside the Fishing Cove River en route to Cape Breton Highlands National Park’s only designated wilderness campsite. On a clearing next to a serene ocean cove and pebble beach (once home to a Scottish fishing village), set up your tent for a pleasant overnight while you explore the beaches and inlets of the Cape Breton coastline. You’ll need to pack in your own water, as well as a camp stove, as fires are not permitted. Pit toilets are available. There are effectively three options for tackling this trail: a six- or 12-kilometre trail, both returning the way they came, or an 18- kilometre route, but this linear route requires a vehicle shuttle.
27. GREEN GARDENS TRAIL
Gros Morne Naitonal Park, Newfoundland & Labrador
Length: 9 or 16kms
Green Gardens Trail may just offer the best overview of Gros Morne National Park’s dramatic and varied terrain. There are two options, the more popular Long Pond Trail (nine kilometres return) or the more challenging—you will have to make two stream crossings—Wallace Brook Trail (16 kilometres return). Green Gardens opens with the barren Tablelands before winding through boreal forest en route to the volcanically-shaped coastline Gros Morne is famous for. Sea stacks and jagged cliffs border the Gulf of St. Lawrence, as do fields of wildflowers with the occasional grazing sheep, shepherded by local farmers. There are three backcountry campsites on the coastline, with pit toilets and picnic tables. Fires are permitted on the beach. Explore the coastline for a day before trudging back through the all-uphill return trail.
28. EAST COAST TRAIL
Avalon Peninsula, Newfoundland
Newfoundland’s East Coast Trail runs south from Cape St. Francis, on the tip of the Avalon Peninsula, tracing the rugged Atlantic coastline for 265 well-marked and maintained kilometres to Cappahayden. Cute lighthouses, fluttering
puffins and, offshore, leviathan whales and maybe even icebergs are just a few highlights. If you’re especially lucky, you may even spot the world’s southernmost caribou herd. Camp, or book B&B stays along the way and
enjoy Newfoundland hospitality. And if you’re adventurous, you can continue on the “under construction” portion, an additional 275 kilometres that will one-day be as well-marked as the inaugural half.
29. GREY MOUNTAIN
Length: 6 or 12kms
Noted for being the closest alpine hike to Whitehorse, Grey Mountain offers visitors to The Wilderness City a chance to escape for a day, enjoy some classic Yukon terrain and challenge themselves with some steep climbs and ridgeline trekking before returning to their comfy hotel or campsite at day’s end. A four-wheel-drive is not essential for reaching the trailhead, but it is a good idea—it is located about 10 kilometres outside of the city, on Grey Mountain Road. The path starts on a steep, decommissioned road before opening up on the ridge-hike to the summit. If you want to keep going, a third peak about three kilometres past the summit offers views of downtown Whitehorse. The trail can be difficult to discern at times and remember, this is bear country.
30. AURIOL TRAIL
Kluand National Park, Yukon
Length: 15 or 19kms
For an introduction to Kluane National Park, hike the popular Auriol Trail, located about seven kilometres southwest of Haines Junction. (By “popular,” we mean perhaps 20 to 30 people in the area at one time, during peak summer season.) This trail carves a 15-kilometre loop into the Auriol Mountain Range’s sub-alpine, with a optional two-kilometre offshoot that climbs into the alpine for an outstanding mountain view. With only 400 metres of elevation gain, it’s an easy entry to Kluane’s wilderness; expect to spend about five hours on the hike. One backcountry campsite is located on the trail. In the winter, it is also used as a cross-country ski and snowshoe trail.
31. MONTANA MOUNTAIN TRIAL
Most often noted for mountain biking, the multi-use trails on Montana Mountain offer fantastic hiking with above-treeline vistas. The moderate-intensity summit-hike is about 15 kilometres long and requires a capable vehicle to access the trailhead. Keep an eye outfor caribou as you ramble through a moonscape to this stratovolcano’s 2,205-metre summit; the environment is particularly remarkable in fall colours. In fact, this trail is best hiked in late-July through early September, after the bugs have died down and before the weather turns foul. (Be careful— some trails are mountain-bike only!)
32. GRIZZLY LAKE TO TALUS LAKE
Tombstone Territorial Park, Yukon
Length: 45kms or more
Let the stunning, broken-glass peaks of the Tombstone Mountains be your motivation as you sweat through this off-trail backpacking route. You’ll start in boreal forest before reaching scrubby birch and willow trees and finally into the tundra. Over the next two days, veiwpoints from Glissade and Grizzly pass are your rewards for the often-challenging conditions. Watch out for grizzlies, and you may even spot migrating caribou. There are three campsites along the trail: Grizzly, Divide and Talus Lakes. Truly, this is one of Yukon’s signature hikes.
33. CANOL HERITAGE TRAIL
The Canol Heritage Trail may well be the most challenging trail in this book. For starters, it’s long. Like, really long. Also, it requires either a fly-in or fly-out, or both, if you sprain your ankle. It also usually requires food drops, extreme self-sufficiency and bear spray (grizzlies and black bears). The route follows an old industry road, unmaintained since 1945, so expect the occasional rusting hulk and oil barrel along the way. But mostly, it’s all taiga, tundra, mountains and moose. And it’s for experienced backpackers only. (Note: two explore magazine contributors rode this route on mountain bikes in a record-setting eight days, sans food drops; an award nominated story published in the Fall 2013 issue.)
34. INGRAHAM TRAIL HIKES
Length: .7 to 3kms
Rather than a single route, this is a series of hikes found on the Ingraham Trail—an all-season road leading east from Yellowknife, Northwest Territories. The highway, covering a length of 70 kilometres (each way) is home to true
northern wilderness—more than a dozen lakes, plus picnic spots, campgrounds, canoe routes and hiking trails. Ranney
Hill-Martin Lake Trail, seven kilometres from Yellowknife, will work up a sweat with its 2.5-kilometre route that culminates with a short climb to the summit of a pink-granite dome. Prelude Lake Nature Trail, located 30 kilometres east of Yellowknife, is a three-kilometre jaunt through Canadian Shield granite and vibrant woodlands. Reid Lake Trail is near the terminus of Ingraham Trail and is less than one kilometre in length, but the glacial-scarred rocks and serene lake are worth the interlude; a campsite is located here. Beyond this, the road ends—and, in winter, the famous Ice Road begins.
35. AKSHAYUK PASS
Auyuittuq National Park, Nunavut
Though Auyuittuq is Inuktitut for “the land that never melts,” during the short summer season there is plenty of snow-free hiking to be found within Auyuittuq National Park’s 19,000-square-kilometres of Arctic terrain. Akshayuk Pass is the most popular route in the park—if the word “popular” can be applied to this 10-day, 97-kilometre trek that carves between imposing peaks and permanent icefields. Rising sharply from the tundra, mountains such as Overlord, Asgard
and Thor appear, well, godlike. Best news: unlike some of Nunavut’s other parks, Akshayuk Pass doesn’t require a charter flight. Just catch a scheduled flight to Pangnirtung then arrange a boat ride into the park.