10 Best Multi-Day Hikes in Canada

10 Best Multi-Day Hikes in Canada

By Claire WhittersDestinations

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Discover Canada’s natural beauty is through multi-day treks, uncovering the untouched nature and hidden gems of the backcountry. The second-largest country in the world by landmass, there is ample wilderness to indulge. From shoreline walks, boreal forestlands, mountain ascents, and river crossings, each backpacking expedition in Canada offers a unique experience.

From the west coasts’ old-growth forests to coastal walks offering the perspective of the world’s highest tides in the Maritimes– Canada is a thru-hikers oasis, offering a plethora of hikes at various levels of difficulty. As self-proclaimed intrepid adventurers, we took it upon ourselves to curate a list of the best multi-day hikes across Canada. From beautiful British Columbia to the dramatic coastlines of Newfoundland and Labrador, we found the best long-distant trails from coast to coast—happy hiking!

Top multi-day hikes in Canada

Top multi-day hikes in Canada

1. The Great Divide Trail

The Great Divide Trail, or GDT, is an iconic long-distant hiking trail in the Canadian Rockies. Weaving across the Great Divide between beautiful British Columbia and Alberta over 30 times, this trail travels over 1,100.0 km from the southern terminus in Waterton Lakes National Park to the northern terminus in Kakwa Provincial Park. Boasting breathtaking scenes of snow-capped craggy peaks, glaciers, lush meadowlands, wildflowers, and wildlife, this epic expedition is reserved for intrepid adventurers. Demanding adequate preparation and planning, thru-hikers typically take around 8 weeks to tackle this trek.

As the entirety of the GDT is unrecognized by an official body, sections of the path are extremely primitive and not well signposted. Be prepared to put your navigational skills to the test and rough it backcountry camping. Check out our GDT itinerary for easy planning. This epic expedition is at the top of many adventure travellers bucket lists, and we suggest taking the plunge and ticking it off.

Location: Alberta and British Columbia
Distance: 1,100.0 km
Days Recommended: 8 weeks/ 45-56days
When to do: June-September

The Great Divide Trail

The Great Divide Trail

2. East Coast Trail

The East Coast Trail is an amazing adventure on the easternmost coast of Canada in Newfoundland and Labrador. Stretching over 336.0 km from Topsail Beach to Trepassey, this scenic footpath offers scenes of dramatic coastal cliffs, icebergs, deep fjords, lighthouses, lush forestlands, historic sites, ecological reserves, and more. Reserved for experienced adventurers, this trek usually takes thru-hikers about two weeks to complete this trail.

Composed of over 25 wilderness routes, this long distant hike offers jaw-dropping maritime views and the opportunity to observe wildlife. Providing several options for accommodations along the way- the East Coast Trail Association maintains six designated, primitive along the path. Additionally, adventurers have the more luxurious option of staying at quaint B&Bs in the outports. No matter where you stay or how long it takes, this lifechanging journey is well worth the attempt.

Location: Newfoundland and Labrador
Distance: 336.0 km
Days Recommended: 14-20days
When to do: June-September

East Coast Trail

East Coast Trail

3. West Coast Trail

The West Coast Trail is a wonderful multiday hike through the Pacific Rim National Forest, along the shoreline of Vancouver Island, British Columbia. Reserved for intrepid adventurers, this trek demands scrambling, ladder climbing, beach walking and cable car river crossings, and more. Stretching over 75.0 km from Port Renfrew to Bamfield, the scenic pathway wanders through the beautiful coastal rainforest, along sandy beaches, past cascading waterfalls, and sea caves. Requiring proper preparation and planning, most experienced hikers can complete this trek in as little as 6 days.

Located in the backcountry, along the southwestern coast of BC, hikers must camp at either one of the 13 official campgrounds along the trail or disperse camp. Additionally, adventurers are required to make a reservation with Parks Canada to access the trail. This epic excursion is a life-changing experience, so what are you waiting for?

Location: Vancouver Island, British Columbia
Distance: 75.0 km
Days Recommended: 5-8days
When to do: July-September

West Coast Trail

Darling River Waterfall. West Coast Trail, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada. Image by Paxson Woelber, CC BY 2.0.

4. Chilkoot Trail

The Chilkoot Trail is an increasingly popular long-haul hike that travels through some of North America’s most dramatic landscapes. Follow the Gold Rush route from Alaska, over the Chilkoot Pass, through Northern British Columbia, and into the Yukon. Revel in the beauty of the Northern Coast Mountains and travel back in time along this historic trail.

Unlike many other long-distance hikes, the Chilkoot Trail demands a solid itinerary prior to beginning the trek. Cooperatively managed by the US National Park Service and Parks Canada, adventurers are required to purchase a permit to access this awesome pathway. When registering for a permit, hikers must specify which campgrounds they will stay at each night, and how many tent sites are required—this avoids over-crowding. Organizing this backpacking expedition can be daunting, let us worry about the headache-inducing task and book the 7-Day Chilkoot Trail Tour.

Location: Alaska, Northern British Columbia, and the Yukon
Distance: 53.0 km
Days Recommended: 3-6days
When to do: July-September

Chilkoot Trail

Deep Lake Outlfow. Image by Joseph, CC BY-SA 2.0.

5. Fundy Footpath

Discover New Brunswick and marvel in the world’s highest tides along the Fundy Footpath. Stretching over 41.0 km from Goose River to Big Salmon River, this primitive route travels through lush forestlands, over suspension bridges, atop 100 m sea cliffs, and along the rocky beaches of the Atlantic Ocean. Offering panoramic maritime views, this rugged route has rapidly gained popularity in recent years, recently listed in the “50 Best Hikes in the World” by Explore Magazine.

The terrain along the Fundy footpath is technical, so make sure you have a comfortable pair of footwear, refer to our guide on choosing the perfect pair of hiking boots for tips and tricks. Offering several dispersed campsites along the way, hikers can choose to camp beneath the tree shade or on the beach, overlooking the dramatic seascape. This trek is a great choice for those who lack the time to tackle the East Coast Trail.

Location: Southern New Brunswick
Distance: 41.0 km
Days Recommended: 2-5days
When to do: June-September

Fundy Footpath

Fundy Footpath

6. Boreal Trail

Tackle Saskatchewan’s only destination backpacking expedition along the Boreal Trail. Boasting inspiring scenes of the verdant boreal forestlands and glassy lakes. Stretching over 135.0 km from River Primitive Campground to the Dorintosh Administration Office on the east side of the Meadow Lake Provincial Park. Relatively flat compared to other backpacking routes in the country, this is a great beginner’s journey to long-haul trekking.

Offering both front country and backcountry campsites, this trek caters to adventurers of all luxury levels. Pre-registration is required to use the Parks backcountry campsites, check out the provincial website for additional information. Note this trail passes through bear country, so bring bear spray and be aware. This is a great adventure in the prairies, and we cannot recommend it enough.

Location: Saskatchewan
Distance: 135.0 km
Days Recommended: 6-10days
When to do: April-June

Boreal Trail

Boreal Trail. Photo credit: Tourism Saskatchewan/Paul Austring

7. Sunshine Coast Trail

The Sunshine Coast Trail is Canada’s longest hut-to-hut backcountry hiking trail, stretching 180.0 km over amazing landscapes from Sarah Point to Saltery Bay. Offering panoramas of dramatic coastal shorelines, lush old-growth forest, shimmering lakes, rivers, and mountain views—there is no shortage of scenery to keep even the most discouraged hikers motivated. Immerse yourself in British Columbia’s beautiful backcountry rich with diverse flora and fauna. Most experience thru-hikers can easily tackle this trek in 10 days.

Earning its claim to fame as a hut-to-hut backpacking expedition, there are 14 “first come first sleep” huts along the footpath—including three winterized huts. Those who are not lucky enough to secure a spot in a hut will have to camp at one of the several designated sites near the cabins. No matter where you lay your head at night, hiking Sunshine Coast Trail makes for an unreal experience.

Location: British Columbia
Distance: 180.0 km
Days Recommended: 9-14days
When to do: Year-round

Sunshine Coast Trail

Sunshine Coast Trail

8. Bruce Trail

Adventure Canada’s oldest and longest footpath—the Bruce Trail. From Queenston to Tobermory, this route covers 904.0 km over extraordinary terrains, offering scenes of countless cascading waterfalls, quarries, shimmering lakes, lush forestlands, historic sites, biosphere reserves, and more. Reserved for seasoned thru-hikers, this long-haul trek generally takes between 30-40 days. Those dipping their toes into long-distance expeditions can venture sections of the path instead of the entirety of the footpath.

Explore the Niagara Escarpment, and quality test wine as you wander through vineyards. Demanding stamina and determination, this challenging hike warrants conditioning and organization. Check out our expert’s training guide for hikers for an extensive preparation plan to get you fit and ready for your trek. Travelling through both private and public land, those backpacking along the backcountry route are required to camp only at designated dispersed campsites or detour to front country campgrounds or local B&B’s.

Location: Ontario
Distance: 904.0 km
Days Recommended: 30-40days
When to do: June-September

Bruce Trail

Bruce Trail. Image by Onasill, CC BY-SA 2.0.

9. Cape Chignecto Coastal Trail

The Cape Chignecto Coastal Trail is a scenic circuit footpath along the western coast of Nova Scotia. Meander atop towering shoreline cliffs, across sandy beaches, past secluded coves, and up staircases into the lush boreal forestlands. Experience the famous Fundy Bay tides and marvel in the sweeping maritime vistas. Regarded as one of the best introductory hikes to long-haul treks, this route travels over 55.0 km. Experienced thru-hikers can complete the circuit in as little as 3 days, but we suggest tackling it in 4, especially if this is one of your first treks.

Heading clockwise from West Advocate, there are nine backcountry campgrounds along the route, and seven of them are located on the coastal section of the trail. When camping on the beach it is important to bear in mind the tide schedule—you wouldn’t want to be swept out to sea! There are also cabins and bunkhouses along the hike for those with a taste for luxury. Book your campsites and cabins on the provincial website.

Location: Nova Scotia
Distance: 55.0 km
Days Recommended: 3-5days
When to do: June-October

Cape Chignecto Coastal Trail

Cape Chignecto Coastal Trail

10. La Traversée de Charlevoix

Explore Québec’s backcountry along La Traversée de Charlevoix, a 105km hut to hut hiking trail. Stretching over 105.0 km from Baie Saint Paul to Mont Grand-Fonds, this breathtaking trek boasts views of rolling mountains, the Saint Lawrence River, lush woodlands, blueberry fields, shimmering lakes, and more. Reserved for seasoned hikers, this trek, unlike most long distant hauls, provides a more luxurious accommodation option—staying in primitive hikes along the way.

Part of the Trans Canada Trail system at the heart of the UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve, the well-managed route can be ventured year-round, in the winter with a pair of snowshoes or cross-country skis. Offering several non-private hikes, this trek is great for those who cringe at the thought of camping for 5 days. Reserve a spot in advance and enjoy the luxury of a wood stove and sleeping pads as you tackle this scenic trek.

La Traversée de Charlevoix

La Traversée de Charlevoix

Location: Québec
Distance: 105.0 km
Days Recommended: 5-8days
When to do: Year-round

Best Treks and Backpacking Trails

Check out our series of articles on the best treks and backpacking trails on earth!

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