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Where to find the best Trails in Canada – Happy Trails

Whether your outdoor adventure takes the form of skating, snowshoeing or cross-country skiing, these Canadian trails.

From provincial parks to conservation reserves, there are countless awe-inspiring trails to explore all across our great country. And while summer serves up a range of hiking/biking/paddling options, winter too doesn’t disappoint. Although there are more trails in Canada than we could include here, we’ve packed in 35 trails that are on our must-explore list. So grab your skis, skates or snowshoes and let the adventure begin!

NEWFOUNDLAND AND LABRADOR

Surrounded by mountains that plunge into the ocean, Blow Me Down Provincial Park, near Corner Brook, Newfoundland, is an apt name for the dramatic views you’ll encounter here. Cross-country ski trails for all levels are kept groomed and track set, and cross through some of Newfoundland’s most beautiful country.

There’s great groomed and backcountry skiing—depending on your level of experience and abilities—in Newfoundland’s various parks. At Gros Morne National Park, Terra Nova National Park, Notre Dame Provincial Park and Butter Pot Provincial Park, you’ll find groomed trails for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.

PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND


With 24.5 km (15.2 miles) of groomed recreational trails and 7.5 km (4.7 miles) of competitive and biathlon trails, Brookvale Provincial Ski Park caters to beginners and elite athletes alike. The park celebrated its 50th anniversary last winter.

NOVA SCOTIA

Kejimkujik National Park is truly one of a kind, with two designations to its name: National Park and National Historic Site. Find about 20 km (12 miles) of trails packed and track set for cross-country skiing, plus many more backcountry trails. There are also 60 km (37 miles) of snowshoeing trails, as well as dog-sledding and warming shelters on the trails.
Ski Tuonela is the Maritimes’ only serviced Telemark ski area. Located on the Cabot Trail, in Goose Cove, Cape Breton, it offers amazing backcountry/outback skiing and 18 km (11 miles) of cross-country trails, and was included in Explore magazine’s list of top 25 cross-country ski resorts in Canada.

NEW BRUNSWICK

Fundy National Park, located in the southeast corner of the province, offers 40 km (25 miles) of trails, with a range of difficulty. Snowshoe and cross-country ski on trails through the Acadian highlands.
Kouchibouguac National Park has 15 km (nine miles) of groomed classic- and skate-skiing trails, and shelters that provide skiers with all the amenities for a fun day out. Cross-country ski, snowshoe or just go for a walk—the views are sure to be worth it.

In Mactaquac Provincial Park, you can go sledding, skating, snowshoeing or even opt for a horse-drawn sleigh ride. Check out the special events held during the weekends in January and February, including the Fredericton Frostival, which features a “winter kingdom.”

QUEBEC

The Mont Saint Anne area boasts 208 km (129 miles) of classic trails, 125 km (78 miles) of which can be skate skied. Count on beautiful Laurentian forest scenery—and plenty of ups and downs. Keep your eyes open for moose, too.

Mont Sainte-Anne

 

Gatineau Park, just outside of Ottawa, offers an outstanding array of Nordic trails—185 km (115 miles) in total, of which 100 km (62 miles) are groomed. There are 10 warming huts, some of which are worth the trip in themselves, as well as 55 km (34 miles) of trails reserved for showshoeing. Tip: During the winter, the Friends of Gatineau Park teams up with Nordik Spa-Nature to offer a weekly Snowshoeing Under the Stars activity. Hike along the park’s 1.6 km (one mile) Sugarbush trail by twilight and then relax at the spa’s Nordic baths.

Gatineau Park

The 2.5 km (1.6 mile) Magog Skating Trail meanders along the edge of Lake Mephrémagog, a large freshwater glacial lake that borders the town of Magog, in the Eastern Townships of Quebec, and Newport, Vermont. The trail features warming huts at either end, as well as skate rentals.

Located in Joliette, the Skateway on the Rivière l’Assomption covers an impressive 9 km (six miles). It’s been around for more than 30 years and features a double track, making it easier to accommodate crowds.

Riviere

Make the most of your experience on the highest peak in southern Quebec! Mont Gosford offers 40 km (25 miles) of hiking trails and camping in summer. In winter, you can climb the mountain in your snowshoes and spend a night in one of its six rustic structures.

ONTARIO

As the oldest and longest marked hiking trail in Canada, the Bruce Trail provides the only continuous public access to the Niagara Escarpment, a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve. Admire the magnificent scenery as you snowshoe along the trail, which runs from Niagara to Tobermory.
Skating through the forest in winter at Arrowhead Provincial Park, Muskoka, is a wonder to behold. The 1.3 km (0.8 mile) ice-skating loop is surrounded on all sides by snow-covered evergreen trees, and on select Saturday nights in January and February, you can carve your way under the light of tiki torches lining the trail.
MacGregor Point Provincial Park has another skate trail you don’t know want to miss. Three hours northwest of Toronto and nestled against the shores of Lake Huron in Port Elgin, the 400 metre (1,312 foot) ice-skating trail offers the chance to glide through quiet woods and under the stars until 10 p.m. every day.
Algonquin Park was voted by Canadian Geographic Travel as one of Canada’s 10 best cross-country skiing getaways. The three-trail network spread across Algonquin Park includes two groomed trails and one backcountry trail, as well as heated shelters.
Group of Seven fans just have to experience Killarney Park, which offers camping, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. The Group of Seven’s Lawren Harris, A.J. Casson and A.Y. Jackson were so enamored with this rugged landscape that they demanded the area be designated as protected parkland. Tip: Here, you can stargaze at the only observatory and astronomy program in Ontario Parks.
Set in a UNESCO biosphere reserve, the Scenic Caves Nordic Centre near Collingwood features cross-country ski and snowshoe trails that wind through a 200-year-old forest of 100-foot-tall trees at the highest point of the Niagara Escarpment. There’s even a guided snowshoe night hike under the light of moon and stars.

MANITOBA

Experience a Winnipeg tradition and skate, walk or sled your way along the Red River Mutual Trail. The trail broke the Guinness World Record for the longest naturally frozen skating trail in the world in 2008, measuring 8.54 km (5.3 miles) long. Starting in the heart of the city, you can follow it for a view of Winnipeg from the frozen Red and Assiniboine rivers.
Just over three hours west of Winnipeg, Riding Mountain National Park is another must for skiing and snowshoeing trails. It boasts over 250 km (155 miles) of trails, including 160 km (99 miles) of easy-to-moderate trails and 8 km (five miles) of skate-skiing trails. Here, you can ski Grey Owl Trail, named for the conservationist whose cabin lies at the end of the trail.

Riding Mountain Nat’l Park – bison enclosure

Whiteshell Falcon Trails

Whiteshell Provincial Park delivers some of the best cross-country skiing in Manitoba. Seventy kilometers (44 miles) of groomed trails are offered throughout the park, including The Alfred Hole – Goose Sanctuary  and Pine Point Rapids Trail, which are two of the most scenic. There’s a good chance you may be the only ones on the trail, so be sure to go fully prepared (see our “Winter Safety” sidebar, below, for tips). You’ll also find trails packed for snowshoeing.

SASKATCHEWAN

In Cree, meewasin means “beautiful,” and the Meewasin Valley certainly lives up to its name. Following the South Saskatchewan River, the Meewasin Valley Trail rambles through the city of Saskatoon, and you can cross-country ski or walk over 60 km (31 miles) of riverbank trails through landscaped parks and natural areas stretching from Pike Lake in the southwest to Clark’s Crossing in the northeast.
Prince Albert National Park has approximately 150 km (93 miles) of trails, with plenty that are graded easy to moderate. Most are found near the town of Waskesiu Lake, and there are six warming huts available, but be sure to come properly equipped and bring extra food and hot drinks, as the trails are remote.

Just 20 minutes from Regina, the White Butte Recreation Area offers 13 km (eight miles) of trails groomed for classic and skate skiing. It caught the attention of SkiTrax magazine, which awarded it a 2006 Trax Trail Award.

 

ALBERTA

Located in Banff National Park (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) and surrounded by the Canadian Rockies, in Alberta’s snowbelt, the Lake Louise area offers skiers an abundance of trails, mountain scenery and wildlife viewing opportunities (deer, elk and sheep). Explore cross-country ski trails, snowshoe, ice skate on the lake or skate-ski on the Moraine Lake and Great Divide trails. You can even take dog sledding trips on Great Divide and the adjacent forest trails.

Though it’s only approaching its third winter, the Edmonton IceWay is already becoming a tradition. Stretching 3 km (two miles) through the forest of Victoria Park, the path is dotted with coloured lights at night.
You’ll find excellent snowshoeing in Kananaskis Country in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park, a short drive west of Calgary or east from Canmore. It’s also home to hundreds of cross-country ski trails, skijoring trails and dogsledding.

BRITISH COLUMBIA

For breathtaking lakeside and mountain views, head to Mount Robson Provincial Park. In winter, you can snowshoe along the 4.5 km (2.8 mile) Kinney Lake Trail and work your way through the old-growth cedar and hemlock forest following Robson River to the lake. Keep an eye out for moose, black bears and elk.

One of the most beautiful snowshoe trails in British Columbia has to be Garibaldi Provincial Park. Close to Whistler and Vancouver, it’s home to 90 km (56 miles) of hiking trails and stunning scenery. Fun fact: The park is home to a volcano.

Mount Seymour Provincial Park lies just 45 minutes outside of Vancouver and offers panoramic views of Mount Baker, downtown Vancouver and the Indian Arm fjord. From mid-December through late March, snowshoe and ski trails are marked by BC Parks—the Mount Seymour Trail being the top-rated cross-country ski trail in the area.

Mt Seymour Park.

 

In 2014, the Lake Windermere Whiteway snagged the Guinness World Record for being the longest ice-skating trail. A beautiful 34 km (21 mile) loop that runs all the way around the lake and connects the towns of Invermere and Windermere, it includes tracks for cross-country skiers, a groomed skate-skiing track, as well as a cleared ice-skating track.

NORTHWEST TERRITORIES

Across the Northwest Territories, you’ll find community cross-country ski trails that are groomed and under the lights during the winter months. Of particular note is the trail around Frame Lake in Yellowknife, and the trail around Boot Lake in Inuvik.

The Yellowknife Ski Club maintains an impressive network of cross-country skiing, race and biathlon trails along the Old Ingraham Trail. Check out the 2 km (one mile) of night-lit trails and watch for the northern lights.

YUKON

Although the nights are long and the days cold, the winter months are the best time to experience the northern lights in Whitehorse. The Whitehorse Nordic Centre is home to 85 km (53 miles) of groomed trails and 20 km (12 miles) of backcountry trails. There are also lit trails—with two loops that can be combined for a 10 km (six mile) tour if they are skied in both directions.

Whitehorse Northern Lights (Larry Lamsa)

Winter Safety 

Adventure aside, exploring in winter takes a little more prep and forethought than tripping in the summer. Here are some things to consider before you make your next outing.
Play it safe
Check the weather conditions at your destination ahead of time. Pack appropriate gear, and wear layers and reflective clothing. (It’s best to swap cottons for fabrics that wick away moisture and keep you warm and dry.) A compass, map, first aid kit, and multi-tool or knife might come in handy, as well as extra socks, hats, gloves, an additional layer, sunglasses, water and high-energy snacks.
Buddy up
Ideally, go with a friend or a group of friends. The risks are a lot higher with winter outings, so if you’re going to adventure solo, make sure someone knows where you’re going, what route you’re taking, and approximately when you’ll be back. Also, don’t rely on your phone, as many cellphones don’t work in park interiors.
Think timing 
Take the sunset into account when you plan your route. The sun goes down earlier this time of year, so head out earlier as well and plan to be off the trail well before dark. Give yourself plenty of time to get to your destination, and carry a map and a flashlight just in case.
Be adventure savvy

Travel over frozen lakes and ponds is not recommended, as ice conditions vary greatly. Stay on the designated marked trails and be aware of avalanches—check conditions before you leave. Know the warning signs and always remain in visual contact with your travel partners.

Trans Canada Trail

Across the country, trails reserved for walking, hiking, running and skiing are linking up with cycling routes and paddling pathways to make up a coast-to-coast trail network.
In Ontario alone, the Trans Canada Trail (TCT) connects approximately 150 communities through a collection of linked multi-use trails, from the Manitoba border across to North Bay, down to Hamilton and from Windsor to Ottawa.

Whether the goal is to see more of your province or make your way across the country, the TCT offers a fascinating way to explore more of our land.

Explore the trail here: thegreattrail.ca/explore-the-map.

Tip!


Trail open status can be subject to weather conditions. Check park and trail websites and Twitter feeds for the latest updates and hours of operation.