Sunday, 3 February 2013

5 of Canada's Most Gruelling Places to Hike

Sunshine Village, Alta. To Mt. Assiniboine, B.C.

Sunshine Village, Alta. To Mt. Assiniboine, B.C
56 km.  Roughly six days to complete.

... Rock Isle Lake reveals itself.  This is the first of three lakes at Sunshine Meadows, and the most famous, thanks to the tree-covered island in the middle of the lake.
Image credit:

Mount Assiniboine seen from Sunburst Lake

Why do the hike?
This spot is only accessible on foot or by helicopter and is renowned for its stunning views and opportunity to see wildlife, including mountain goats, bighorn sheep, elk and deer.

Pukaskwa National Park coastal hiking trail, Ont.

Pukaskwa National Park coastal hiking trail, Ont.
60 km along Lake Superior's shore.  Takes five to seven days to complete.

Pukaskwa National Park
Image credit: Flickr user teamscuby

Why do the hike?
The trail offers the best chance to experience Ontario's wild boreal forest, though watch out for the bears and wolves!

Pukaskwa National Park
Image credit:  Flickr user Troy B Thompson

Pukaskwa National Park
Image credit:  Flickr user Troy B Thompson

Pukaskwa National Park
Image credit:  Flickr user Troy B Thompson

Tombstone Territorial Park, Yukon

About 75 km, depending on the length of different hikes.  Eight days to complete.

Ridge on Goldensides Mountain in Tombstone Territorial Park on the Dempster Highway in the Yukon
Image credit:  Flickr user AnthonyFloyd

Why up there?
Because you start the hike with a helicopter ride.  And this mountain range is "Beringia," an area extending as far as Siberia that escaped the glacial scarring of the last ice age.

 Beautiful view from Grizzly lake trail in Tombstone territorial park
Image credit:  Flickr user Bo Mertz

West Coast Trail, B.C.

West Coast Trail, B.C.
75 km on the west coast of Vancouver Island.  Up to seven days to complete.

Canadian Cave Explorer. West Coast Trail, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada
Image credit:  Flickr user Paxson Woelber

Why do it?
To experience the diverse wildlife and sleep by the ocean.

Another day in Canada. West Coast Trail, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada
Image credit:  Flickr user Paxson Woelber

A quaint sunset. West Coast Trail, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada
Image credit:  Flickr user Paxson Woelber

Exploring the tidepools. West Coast Trail, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada
Image credit:  Flickr user Paxson Woelber

Canol Heritage Trail, N.W.T.

Canol Heritage Trail, N.W.T.
350 km from the Yukon-Northwest Territories border to Norman Wells.  At least 20 days for the full trail.

The trail is made up of that part of the Canol Road which lie within the NWT. This part of the road is not maintained by the territory government. The road was constructed during the Second World War by the United States Army Corps of Engineers to build and service a pipeline bringing oil from Norman Wells to a refinery in Whitehorse, Yukon. Though built at huge expense, the pipeline suffered from shoddy workmanship and technical difficulties. It was abandoned after only thirteen months of operation. The steel pipe was salvaged, but abandoned trucks, pump stations and buildings remain along the trail.

Abandoned trucks near Mile 222
Image source: wikipedia

The trail’s eastern terminus is across the Mackenzie River from Norman Wells, so arrangements have to be made to cross the river by either air or boat. The western terminus, a small airstrip at McMillan Pass on Yukon border, can be reached by plane from either Norman Wells or Whitehorse. In summer, it can be reached by road along Yukon Highway 6/North Canol Road. The road receives minimal maintenance and can be a rough ride. The road ends 26 km before the trailhead, bringing the total distance to the McKenzie River to 381 km.

Most hikers will taken between 14 and 22 days to complete the trail. There are no services along the trail and, though it has been hiked with no resupply, most people arrange for one to three food drops to be made by aircraft.

Telegraph pole beside Ekwi River
Image source: Wikipedia

There are three major river crossings along the trail, in addition to innumerable smaller ones. Crossing the Twitya River, which has turned back many hikers, requires swimming.

The trail crosses grizzly bear and black bear habitat, so precautions should be taken.

Pump station at Mile 108
Image source: Wikipedia

Why go?
Because this is one of the most remote and wilderness-filled experiences Canada offers! It should only be undertaken by experienced, physically fit hikers.

Dodo Canyon on the Canol Heritage Trail
Section of culvert remains
Image source:  Wikipedia

Source: The Maclean's Book of Lists, Wikipedia


  1. Thanx! Canada is beautiful!!!

  2. Great post - thanks for sharing. I've lived in Canada for over two years now and there's so much to see it's just mind-boggling. I don't want to go back to the UK having missed an opportunity to explore - I may just have to stay here :-)

    1. We sure hope you do! :) Thanks for your awesome feedback!

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