Lonely Planet Writer

Now you can travel from coast to coast across Canada on the world’s longest trail system

The longest recreational trail system in the world is complete, connecting Canada along a 24,000-kilometre path where outdoor-enthusiasts can hike, walk, cycle, ski and horseback ride their way across the world’s second largest country.

High angle rear view of mid adult woman carrying orange colour backpack standing in forest looking at water, Moraine lake, Banff National Park, Alberta Canada
The Great Trail is complete, connecting Canada with a large land and water trail network. Image by Peter Amend/Getty Images

About 25 years in the making, the Great Trail stretches between the Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic oceans, giving travellers a chance to explore the country’s urban, rural and wilderness environments across that great expanse. The multi-use trail was completed by linking existing trails and creating new connections where needed. Different pieces of the system are managed or owned by different authorities, organizations or governments, but the country celebrated the final connection on 26 August with nearly 200 celebrations held around Canada.

etting ready to start a tour in canoe in the Algonquin Park, Ontario - Canada.
The Great Trail is complete, connecting Canada with a large land and water trail network. Image by LeoPatriz/Getty Images

While the project has been underway for decades, the goal was to complete the trail by 2017, the year in which Canada celebrates 150 years since Confederation. While many of the trails were already in existence, the connection of the trail symbolically links the country, and gives travellers a chance to explore the tundra in Arctic communities like Inuvik, see the world’s highest tides at the Bay of Fundy in the east, or paddle along the Gulf Islands in the West –all along the one Great Trail.

Dawson City, Yukon, Canada
Explore Northern communities on the trail like Dawson City, Yukon.  Credit: ©Justin Foulkes/Lonely Planet

As the system links 15,000 communities across the country, much of the path incorporates stretches where locals can get out and enjoy nature near their town. However, anyone looking to cross the country will need to be prepared for the fact that 26% of the path is along waterways – though it is an excuse to get comfortable with canoeing and kayaking, both popular in Canada. For those ambitious enough to want to start planning a trip, there’s a detailed map on the website where you can start plotting out your 24,000-kilometre adventure.