Have you taken advantage of Parks Canada's Discovery Pass this year?
To celebrate Canada's 150th—the federal agency is offering FREE admission to all national parks, national historic sites and national marine conservation areas throughout 2017. (Plus, free seasonal lockage too, on national historic waterways.)
We're continuing our look at some of the BEST ways to experience our parks and historic sites—with Ontario and Quebec's amazing Parks Canada sites:
New Superior Coastal Hike
If the 10-day, 120-kilometre Pukaskwa Coastal Hike is more than you’re ready for, there’s now a shorter alternative, the Mdaabii Miikna. Like the original, the new trail begins and ends at Hattie Cove in Pukaskwa National Park but loops out to the coast along a 24-kilometre route. Four campsites along this previously inaccessible part of the park make it easy to customize the adventure into a one-, two- or three-night backpack. (Pictured above.)
Park in the City
Parks Canada goes urban with Rouge National Urban Park. In the midst of Greater Toronto, it’s the only urban park in the system. Full of trails and sites to explore, there’s plenty to do.
Hike to the most southern point in Canada, Point Pelee National Park, via the West Beach Footpath. Following the water’s edge, watch for prickly pear cactus while you take in the view of the Lake Erie shoreline.
Backpack the Bruce
Most through-hikers agree the best part of the 885-kilometre Bruce Trail is the section through Bruce Peninsula National Park. Here, the route traverses cliff-tops, clatters across rocky beaches, pops into caves and cuts through the park’s forest, one of the largest tracts of wild lands in the southern half of the province.
Sea Kayak the Thousand Islands
On a long-weekend sea kayak trip in Thousand Islands National Park, try to get out to Thwartway Island. If you make it, you’ll likely question whether you’re actually in bustling southeastern Ontario. (Pictured at top.)
Explore Gitchi Gummi
A big chunk of Lake Superior will soon be one of the largest protected areas of fresh water on Earth. The proposed national marine conservation area would encompass more than 10,000 square-kilometres, stretching from the Sibley Peninsula near Thunder Bay to Terrace Bay and south to the U.S. border. Inside this chunk of water is a lot to explore. Sea kayak along the shoreline past islands, into coves and onto remote beaches. Scuba dive to shipwrecks. Angle for abundant fish. Surf on the waves whipped up by this stormy sea. Backpack along the coast on the Casque Isles Trail. Spot elusive caribou on the Slate Islands. Or board a sailboat and see it all.
The Birch Bark Tent
Learn how the Anishinaabe people, whose traditional territory includes Pukaskwa National Park, used to live at a new interpretive site at Hattie Cove.
Flowerpot Sans Crowds
Camp at Fathom Five National Marine Park’s Flowerpot Island campground and you’ll practically have the entire charming island to yourself once the last ferry leaves. Swim in the cove in front of the six campsites, hike the loop trail to the lighthouse station or just kick back and relax.
Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve is full of funky rock formations reminiscent of Dr. Seuss stories. The best might be on Grande-Île, where the monoliths look like castles. Some stand 10 metres high. (Pictured above.)
The best time to hike the 75-kilometre Laurentian Trail is in late September when La Mauricie National Park’s deciduous forest is in its fall colours.
New Waterbed in Montreal
Parks Canada and a developer teamed up to turn the first lock of Lachine Canal National Historic Site into a unique place to spend the night. Sleep in the heart of Montreal in a canvas tent, micro-chalet, wood-frame cabins turned mini-hotel rooms or restored wooden boats outfitted like cabins. villagedesecluses.com
Party Before Breakfast
The Festival Musique du Bout du Monde questions why concerts are an after-lunch thing with a sunrise concert at Cap-Bon-Ami in Forillon National Park. musiqueduboutdumonde.com
Canada’s David & Goliath
In 1813, a mixed force of 1,630 British and Mohawk soldiers turned back 4,000 Americans headed for Montreal. The Battle of Chateauguay is a little known but key victory in the War of 1812. It’s commemorated along the national historic site’s 14-kilometre multi-use trail.
Snorkel & SCUBA the St. Lawrence
The coast of the north shore of the Gulf of St. Lawrence may not seem like a snorkelling destination. But the shallow waters off the Marine Environment Discovery Centre in Les Escoumins, Quebec, is one of the easiest and best places to discover this coldwater jungle. The centre, part of Saguenay-St. Lawrence Marine Park, rents gear and leads dives and has permanent displays and other interpretive activities on site.
The Immigrant Path
At least 4.3 million people started a new life in Canada at Grosse Îlle, in the middle of the St. Lawrence River at Quebec City. Outside of the national historic site, the island is wilderness. Follow the Mirador Trail for a hike through a unique mix of Laurentian and Appalachian ecosystems, watching for abundant deer, rare plants and diverse bird life.
Best View in Quebec
At the end of Quebec’s Gaspe Peninsula, Forillon National Park brags many great views, but the best is from the summit of Mount Saint-Alban. Mid-way along the eight-kilometre loop trail, the view from this perch is 360 degrees of mountain and ocean.
These experiences are just the start.
Discover 150 MORE amazing outdoor adventures in our brand-new, totally free e-book: CANADA'S 150 MOST AMAZING OUTDOOR ADVENTURES.