Not everyone is cut out for multi-day hikes with a full backpack of gear and provisions digging into your back. Some of us prefer a leisurely meander or even a gruelling hike that ends with a glass of wine and a fluffy bed.
While it is impossible to make a singular list detailing all, or even most, of the incredible hiking trails that stretch from one fair coast to the other, let’s say we’ve picked a couple wonderful ones that can be tackled in a day and end with a delightful stay.
Third Vault Falls trail at Fundy National Park
Everyone is motivated by rewards and the Fundy National Park showers hikers with plenty: cliffside lookouts onto the highest tidal action in the world, access to beaches where you are essentially strolling across the ocean floor and finally, magical waterfalls. The reach the largest of their collection, Third Vault Falls, you’ll march through rugged forest terrain and jump across streams until you’ll hear the rush of the waterfall before you even glimpse its spectacular cascade of water. Enjoy your packed picnic nearby followed by a dive into the waterfall pool for a refreshing swim before heading back.
Where to stay near the Fundy National Park
Parkland Village Inn
Watch the tide roll in and sweep back out from your perch at the Parkland Village Inn, located just a two-minute drive from the Fundy visitor centre. From your balcony, you can watch the fishermens’ boats hauling in their fresh ocean bounty. Once your appetite for seafood is roused, head to the onsite Tides restaurant for heaping portions of down-home Maritime food.Check availability »
Green Gardens Trails at Gros Morne National Park
Visiting Gros Morne always stuns first-timers as they try to grasp and cope with the harsh beauty of its landscape. Hikers are confronted with an endless choice of hiking trails, many unmaintained and requiring both commitment and plenty of hiking experience. One of the more accessible yet still surreal hikes is the Green Gardens trail. You begin at the Tablelands, a barren lunar landscape valley and one of four completely different environments you’ll encounter on the hike. You’ll tramp through boggy marshlands and rich forests before following the sunny meadow along the coast till you reach the Old Man Cove and its beach waterfall and sea cave. It’s a challenging half-day hike but serves as an exciting introduction into the vastness of the Gros Morne landscape.
Where to stay near Gros Morne National Park
Sugar Hill Inn
Set at the edge of Gros Morne, the Sugar Hill Inn presides from its hillside location over the World Heritage Site Park. The charming country inn is a dash of cozy luxury amidst the wild terrain. Guests wearied by their hiking adventures will gladly sink into the hot tub and emerge revitalized for a dinner Chanterelles, the elegant on-site restaurant, whose offerings include an extensive wine list focusing on vino from Burgundy and Bordeaux.Check availability »
Auriol Trail at Kluane National Park
The shortfall of humans up North has allowed the natural beauty of this region to remain pristine and untouched as one of the last remaining truly wild frontiers of North America. UNESCO World Heritage Site Kluane National Park shelters icefields, peaks, wildflowers and a healthy population of wild animals, including grizzly bears and caribou. Starting from Haines Junction, the Auriol 15-kilometre loop is moderately difficult. It begins in a lush forest of spruce and aspen before opening onto marshlands with high potential for moose sightings. You’ll rise into subalpine territory and emerge under the peaks of the Auriol range. As bears are common, proceed with caution, stay on the paths and make sure to do plenty more research before venturing out.
Where to stay near the Kluane National Park
Mount Logan Lodge
Perfectly positioned for hikers departing into the Kluane wilderness, the Mount Logan Lodge wood log cabins are snuggled up against the border of the national park. If you’re nervous about hiking solo, the Lodge can also organize guided hikes. Breakfast comes free with your stay and a robust dinner can be booked for a post-hike refuel.Check availability »
Grey Owl Trail in Riding Mountain National Park
Venture into the thick Manitoba Taiga boreal forest, accompanied by a symphony of frog groans, as you follow the path of famed naturalist Archie Belaney, also known as Grey Owl. His namesake trail runs through a spruce and pine forest broken up by bogs and marshes and the occasional spotting of white-tailed deer, beavers or moose. The park is also home to several wolf packs but they generally avoid humans. It’s a long but gentle 17-kilometre hike, hardly arduous in terms of elevation. Surprisingly, you’ll come across a few sandy beaches among the dense forest on your way to Grey Owl’s Beaver Lake cabin, which was home for him and his two pet beavers.
Where to stay near the Riding Mountain National Park
Elkhorn by Evrentals
Connecting with nature doesn’t have to mean disconnecting with your beloved creature comforts– after all, what hiker would say no to a hot stone massage after a gruelling day at Riding Mountain National Park? The Elkhorn Resort is a five-minute drive from the entrance to the park and manages to balance the business of hiking with the leisure of their Solstice Spa, onsite dining, and even an indoor waterpark.Check availability »
The Crack Trail at Killarney Park
If the Killarney Park landscape looks familiar, it’s likely because you’ve admired the depiction of its eerily misty, placid lakes, rocky plateaus and pine trees bent crookedly by rough winter winds in the work of Canada’s famous Group of Seven painters. Following the Crack Trail is the best way to see the white quartzite mountains and quiet, crystal clear lakes for which Killarney is renowned. It’s a steady but not too steep climb uphill that requires the dexterity of both your feet and hands as you manoeuvre over the massive tumble of boulders near the summit. From atop, you can see the waters of the Georgian Bay and prepare for your descent, which some say is more difficult than the ascent.
Where to stay near Killarney Park
Killarney Mountain Lodge
Killarney Lodge has been the park gateway since the 1950s when it was only accessible by seaplane or boat. Facing out onto the Killarney Bay, the rustic lodge is a 10-minute drive from the park which shares its name. You chose your style of stay whether it’s just a room for a weekend or a full week of Canadian resort life that includes full meals, boating and even guided hikes.Check availability »
Three Brothers Mountains trail at EC Manning Provincial Park
Nobody likes to play favourites and each of our provinces boasts vast expanses of beautiful scenery. However, international acclaim has crowned BC our natural born beauty. For fair weather hikers who want to see as much as possible during a day hike, start at the Heather Trail before ascending the first Brother mountain. The Three Brothers Mountain trail will guide you through wildflower-covered meadows during the June and July spring bloom and up to views that deserve that panorama setting on your phone’s camera. The summit is alpine forest and a cool 2272 m high up– quite a feat for a day hike!
Where to stay near EC Manning Provincial Park
Manning Park Resort
A destination in its own right, the Manning Park Resort could very well be the reason you are hiking the Three Brothers Mountains. The four-season complex is fully equipped to help out hikers with sore muscles thanks to their hot tub and sauna. The resort has a variety of lodge rooms and larger chalets that accommodate large groups and have full kitchens.Check availability »
Plain of Six Glaciers at Lake Louise
The Lake Louise and Banff area are in a single word: majestic. Even the most stubbornly bored teenager will have a hard time remaining stoic when faced with the mountains. While every local and visitor can argue the case for which trail is the most impressive, the Plain of Six Glaciers isn’t too difficult and while it will take up an entire day, it rewards hikers with its eponymous glacier views. Departing straight from the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, the view of the hotel and the iconic turquoise Lake Louise will grow smaller behind you as the view opens up onto new valleys and peaks shrouded by fog. On route, you’ll pass lots of mountain goats clambering along the ledges of rocky cliffs. While many hikers stop at the historic Swiss tea house for snacks and turn back, we urge you to wander just one kilometre further for a better panorama of the pass that marks the border of British Columbia and Alberta.
Where to stay near Lake Louise
The Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise has been called the birthplace of Canadian Mountaineering and its construction in the late 19th century can be credited with making hiking and skiing popular activities. Over a century later, the fairytale property remains an outdoor destination, albeit with the creature comforts of fine dining and spa services. Should you be a wary first-time hiker, you can join a variety of guided mountain tours.Check availability »
Hike the Cape Breton Highlands National Park
The Cape Breton Highlands National Park is world-renowned for its dramatic landscapes and the winding Cabot Trail scenic drive that wraps around the park. She’s a popular one though and many of her most iconic hiking trails, such as Skyline which gently walks you to seemingly the edge of the world, are usually packed with tourists when the weather is good. Hiking the FraneyTtrail you’re less apt to cross crowded paths and more likely to spot some wildlife. The paths are well-maintained and you’ll trek alongside dense bogs and old growth forests, climbing steadily above sea level. You’ll pass through many viewpoints that hint at the vista to come– once you reach the red Adirondack chair with a sweeping view and refreshing ocean gusts you’ll know you’ve arrived.
Where to stay near the Cape Breton Highlands National Park
Accolade Hostel Retreat Campground
The Accolade Hostel Retreat Campground may appear to be a mere collection of beds in a barn with bedsheets acting as room dividers but it begs an open mind to uncover its charms. The historic century-old pole barn is an off-grid living experience but a few special details make it a big step up from camping. For one, the beds are lined with natural bamboo linens and are exceptionally comfy. Beach stone and cedar washrooms make taking a shower after a long day of hiking the Cabot trails a joy, or if you prefer, you can both shower and cook outdoors if you can’t get enough of that fresh Cape Breton air.Check availability »