Canada's newest hiking trail has opened in its smallest province: Prince Edward Island (PEI). The Island Walk, a roughly 435-mile walking route that gently loops around PEI, offers experienced hikers and casual walkers a slow travel experience with endless miles of rosy-hued beaches and charming small towns.

PEI is famous for its seafood, particularly oysters and lobster, and is also known as the fictional home of Anne of Green Gables. Visitors come to swim in water warmed by the Gulf Stream, to take on its cross-country ski trails, and to enjoy some of the best sandy beaches in North America. Now there's another reason to stretch your legs and visit with the opening of the Island Walk last month.

Read more: Explore Canada's great outdoors on these 11 hiking trails

Souris Beach Provincial Park trail
The trail officially opened in November 2021 © The Island Walk

The new trail runs along the outer perimeter of PEI and features a mix of inland and coastal sections, spanning much of the ocean and Confederation Trail, and takes walkers through beaches, farmland, forests and cosy small towns. Committed hikers can complete the trail in 32 days when walking 12-15 miles per day. But others can enjoy it at their own pace as the trail is broken up into 32 sections that are easily accessible from the main towns.

"Just like the Camino de Santiago, the Island Walk will give you the time to slow down and be present in your thoughts and daily journey, while experiencing the simple beauty of the Island around you,” said Bryson Guptill, Island Walk creator.

Potato fields and lupines on farmland in Kingsboro, Canada
Peaceful paths will help walkers find some solace in nature © The Island Walk

The Island Walk intertwines through PEI’s two major cities: Charlottetown, with its colorful clapboard houses, independent clothing boutiques, quaint bookshops, chocolatiers, and craft breweries; and Summerside, known for its farm-to-table culinary scene.

There are many small communities to explore too, including Tyne Valley, home of the annual Oyster Festival, and the Rock and Boat Music Festival; Victoria-by-the-Sea where visitors can relax in its tearooms or attend a show at the historic Victoria Playhouse (PEI’s longest running “little theatre”); and Montague, another craft beer haven with spectacular seaside views.

Colourful shopping streets in the town of Charlottetown
Visit the colorful restaurants and stores of Charlottetown © Getty Images

Along the route, partnering inns and hotels offer hikers transfer services to deliver luggage when changing accommodations, as well as take-away lunches and, in some places, the use of their kitchens to prepare food. Minimal equipment is needed for the walk with organizers recommending comfortable sneakers and a small day backpack. If you like, you could also rent a bike and cycle your way around the trail.

The best time to do the Island Walk is between May and October when the weather is more comfortable for walking, though July and August are peak tourism months on PEI so accommodations may be difficult to find.

You can learn more about the trail through the Island Walk's website.

Read more: When is the best time to visit US and Canada's national parks?

Tea Cup Rock, a red sandstone rock on Prince Edward Island
The trail will take walkers to some of PEI's best-known sights, including Teacup Rock © Getty Images/iStockphoto

Canada is currently open to vaccinated international travelers with testing restrictions, but be aware that there are additional COVID-19 entry testing requirements for visitors to Prince Edward Island.

For more information on COVID-19 and travel, check out Lonely Planet's Health Hub.

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