As temperatures rise and the weather becomes more pleasant, the great outdoors beckons. What better way to celebrate Canada’s natural splendour than by putting on your boots, filling your water bottle and going for a hike? Each of the country’s 13 provinces and territories offers spectacular hikes: some easy enough for couch potatoes; some for the more experienced hiker. We’ve rounded up the best hiking trails across every province in 2020 and added a few bonus ones too.
British Columbia: Stanley Park Seawall Trail, Vancouver
A hike along the Stanley Park Seawall will show you just why Vancouver is one of Canada’s best cities to visit during summer. The views range from cityscapes to Lions Gate Bridge to huge ships sailing into the harbour and the trail is mostly flat, easy enough to do with young children in strollers. As long as they’re on leash, dogs are allowed on the trail too.
British Columbia: Emerald Lake Trail, Yoho National Park
The Emerald Lake Trail loops around Emerald Lake in Yoho National Park. It’s a popular trail but doesn’t get as crowded as Lake Louise. Like Lake Louise, though, the trail offers Insta-worthy vistas of a green lake surrounded by forests and snow-capped mountains. There are some steep sections but overall the hike is not very difficult. Dogs are allowed if they’re on leash.
Alberta: Upper Grassi Lakes Trail Loop, Canmore Nordic Centre Provincial Park
Canmore is one of the best places to visit in August, when the town hosts the Canmore Folk Music Festival. August is also a good time to hike the scenic Upper Grassi Lakes Trail Loop, since there can be slippery ice once temperatures drop. The hike is so easy that you can bring the kids and the dog — on leash, of course — and do it in the morning to be back in time for the day’s line-up at the festival.
Alberta: Teahouses Trail, Banff National Park
The Teahouses Trail in Banff National Park combines parts of several trails, including the Plain of Six Glaciers Trail along Lake Louise and the Lake Agnes Trail above Lake Louise. If you hike this trail, you get to visit two teahouses in one day and can also admire the famous Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise. The trail has a few steep climbs. Dogs are allowed if they’re on leash.
Saskatchewan: Broken Hills Trail, Grasslands National Park
Grasslands National Park is one of Canada’s best national parks, mainly because of the bison calling the area home. The easy Broken Hills Trail in the park gives you the chance to spot these majestic creatures. The trail covers varied terrain but it’s worth noting that there is no shade along the way, so wear sun protection and bring plenty of water. Dogs are allowed too if they’re on leash.
Saskatchewan: Meewasin Trail from Crocus Prairie to Factoria Site, Saskatoon
Saskatoon is one of the places where you can watch the most beautiful sunsets, especially because of the way the sky is reflected in the water of the Saskatoon River. The Meewasin Trail covers 80 km along both banks of the river and the stretch from Crocus Prairie to Factoria Site is definitely one of Canada’s best urban hiking trails. You can bring your dog if it’s on leash and pop into one of the many eateries the City of Bridges is famous for.
Manitoba: Mantario Trail, Whiteshell Provincial Park
The Mantario is a great option for experienced hikers looking for a challenging multi-day hike. Most hikers complete it in three or four days. The trail covers very rugged terrain that can become muddy in summer, so it’s important to wear waterproof hiking boots. You’ll also need to carry all your supplies. Dogs are allowed on the trail as long as they’re on leash.
Ontario: Flowerpot Island, Fathom Five National Marine Park
A great day out with the kids and the dog – as long as it’s on leash – is a cruise to Flower Pot Island. On the island itself, the hiking trails cover some 6 km and vary in difficulty. Sections of the trail are wheelchair friendly. Highlights of the trip include a lighthouse, caves and some shipwrecks, making this one of the most beautiful places in Ontario.
Ontario: Georgian Bay Marr Lake Trail, Bruce Peninsula National Park
The Bruce Peninsula is without a doubt one of the most beautiful places in Canada and the Georgian Bay Marr Lake Trail showcases this beauty every step of the way. Older kids may enjoy the hike too, as long as they’re wearing sturdy footwear for the rocky terrain. Dogs on leash are allowed on the trail too. The only drawback of this trail is that it’s a very popular hike and can become crowded.
Quebec: L’Acropole des Draveurs, Haute-Gorges-de-la-Rivière-Malbaie National Park
The L’Acropole des Draveurs involves quite a steep climb up a mountain and on your way back, you need to climb down again. There’s no shade either, so you’ll need sun protection and plenty of water. Still, it’s a popular trail because it rewards you with some of the best views in Quebec. Dogs aren’t allowed on this trail.
New Brunswick: Fundy Footpath, Fundy National Park
Fundy National Park has plenty of shorter hikes to waterfalls but let’s face it: you’re really here to see the coastline. One way to do it is on one of Canada’s best bike tours, along the Fundy Trail Parkway. Another is to take a multi-day hike along the Fundy Footpath. It’s definitely not for the faint of heart, since it involves steep climbs and rugged wilderness. However, you’ll also get unparalleled views of the bay. Dogs are allowed on the trail if they’re on leash.
Nova Scotia: Acadian Trail, Cape Breton Highlands National Park
The Acadian Trail is one of the most popular hikes along the Cabot Trail. It gives you the best of two worlds: waterfalls in a valley and some of the most breathtaking ocean views. The hike involves a bit of a climb but nothing too serious and you might see some moose along the way. Dogs are allowed on the trail but must be on leash.
SEE ALSO: Canada's top 20 must-see waterfalls.
Nova Scotia: Port Joli Head, Kejimkujik National Park
Port Joli Head is in the Seaside Adjunct of Kejimkujik National Park. The hike here is mostly over flat terrain but includes some rocky stretches. Still, children wearing sturdy footwear can enjoy it too, especially once they know that there is a good chance of spotting seals once they get to the beach. Dogs are allowed on the trail but must be on leash.
Prince Edward Island: Homestead Trail, Cavendish
Easily accessible from one of Canada’s most amazing camping spots, the Homestead Trail is the perfect family-friendly hike even if you have small children. The terrain is flat and, depending on the time of year, covered in beautiful wildflowers. However, mosquitoes can be a problem so don’t forget the bug spray.
Newfoundland and Labrador: Gros Morne Mountain Trail, Gros Morne National Park
The Gros Morne Mountain Trail is a challenging hike involving a steep scramble with lots of loose rocks. There can be strong winds too, so you need to bring something warm and wear sturdy shoes. If you persevere and make it to the top, though, you’ll be able to enjoy the views that Gros Morne National Park is renowned for. The good news is that the hike down is much easier. Dogs are not allowed on the trail.
Newfoundland and Labrador: Sugarloaf Path, St. John’s
St. John’s may have some of the worst winters in Canada but during the warmer months, the city offers some spectacular hiking. Many of the most stunning views to be had are along the Sugarloaf Path, which follows the coastline between Quidi Vidi Harbour and the Ocean Sciences Centre. The path involves lots of ups and downs with very steep inclines so you’ll need to be quite fit to really enjoy it.
Nunavut: Apex Trail, Iqaluit
The Apex Trail runs along Iqaluit’s shoreline and makes for an easy hike with the dogs, even though there are some steep stretches along the way. During the summer months, the trail features lots of wildflowers but you’ll also need some bug spray and waterproof footwear. Iqaluit is one of the coldest places in Canada so remember to dress accordingly.
Northwest Territories: Prospector’s Trail Loop, Fred Henner Territorial Park
The Prospector’s Trail Loop is a fairly easy hike but uneven and rocky terrain means you need to watch your step. The trail offers some nice views, including views of Downtown Yellowknife. The city is one of the best places to see fall colours and its northerly location means that you can either hike under the Midnight Sun or see the Northern Lights.
Yukon: King’s Throne Peak, Kluane National Park and Reserve
Kluane National Park and Reserve is one of the best places to visit in June, when the Midnight Sun makes for endless days. This is also the best time to hike up King’s Throne Peak, because all those hours of daylight mean you don’t have to rush. It’s a very challenging hike with a steep incline but the ever-changing views give you plenty of excuses to stop and catch your breath. Dogs aren’t allowed on the trail.
The Great Trail of Canada
Difficulty: Off the charts
Many of the trails we’ve mentioned so far are part of the Great Trail of Canada, which is the world’s longest recreational trail. Previously known as the Trans Canada Trail, it’s a vast network that covers all of Canada’s provinces and territories. For the ultimate adventure, you can do a thru hike: it will take you about two years to cover the distance between Vancouver Island and St. John’s, Newfoundland on foot.