Multi-day backpacking trips take time to put together.
Planning is key. In fact, if you have dreams of spending a week under the stars, carrying everything you need on your back as you trek one of Canada's most epic trails...
...Well, start planning for next summer, today.
We're here to help you. For starters, you need a route. Scroll down and choose one of these 18 epic multi-day trips. Some are an overnight, some are a week. (Some, even longer!)
Stoked? Let's get started in the West:
West Coast Trail
Pacific Rim National Park, British Columbia
It’s 75 kilometres of mud, sweat and maybe even some tears. It’s also 75 kilometres of vast sand beaches, towering old-growth evergreens, raging rivers, fairy-tale-esque waterfalls and whale and wolf sightings. Welcome to the West Coast Trail—running through Pacific Rim National Park Reserve on Vancouver Island’s remote west coast, this is one of Canada’s most iconic backpacking trips. Expect to take five to seven days to complete this challenge—or half that via the new midway entry/exit point at Nitinat.
Sunshine Coast Trail
Powell River, British Columbia
Tourism Sunshine Coast
There are easy routes on Powell River’s Sunshine Coast Trail and there are tough routes. But they're all amazing—this is one of the best hiking trails in Canada. Officially, it is Canada’s lengthiest hut-to-hut hiking trail and also the only free one. It’s 180-kilometres long, but it’s almost always done in segments—some as short as an hour or two, some for several days with stout climbs into the gorgeous alpine. For a primer, try the two-day Mount Troubridge section, or maybe Sarah Point to Powell Lake. Even a day-walk to Rieveley’s Pond is worthwhile.
Berg Lake Trail
Mount Robson Provincial Park, British Columbia
Destination BC/Megan Mclellan
Located in Mount Robson Provincial Park, near the BC/Alberta border, 23-kilometre Berg Lake Trail is like a highlight reel for the Rocky Mountains. Under the shadow of 3,959-metre Mount Robson—the high point for the Canadian Rockies—you’ll wander past emerald-coloured Kinney Lake and near thundering Emperor Falls, entranced by dramatic mountain vistas throughout. Some lucky trekkers may even catch a glimpse of giant chunks of ice calving from the Mist, Berg and Robson glaciers.
Parks Canada/Tamara Tarasoff
Running between Skagway, Alaska and Bennet, British Columbia, the Chilkoot Trail is a challenging 53-kilometre backpacking route that traces paths taken by Gold Rush prospectors more than a century ago. Expect steep climbs, rapidly changing weather—including a chance of snow any time of year—and a remote wilderness setting. Also expect vast alpine vistas, beautiful lakes, fascinating history and the lifelong boost of an extreme challenge bested.
Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta
The Tamarack Trail is perhaps the best multi-day hike in Waterton Lakes National Park—aim to trek it in September, when its namesake trees (also known as larches) are in full fall vibrancy, occasional dusts of snow decorate the peaks and daytime temps are comfortable without being too hot. For two to three days, you’ll wander into the alpine, through meadows, over ridgelines and atop stunning mountain and lake vistas. As a linear route, you’ll need to book passage on the Tamarack Trail Shuttle for the return trip to your car.
NOTE: After a devastating fire in 2017, some areas of Waterton remain closed. Before planning any hiking/camping getaway, visit: https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/pn-np/ab/waterton/visit/ideale_best
Jasper National Park, Alberta
Parks Canada/Ryan Bray
The Skyline Trail is Jasper’s signature backpacking route—a 44-kilometre-long scenic wonderland that meanders above the treeline for more than half of its distance. It is home to woodland caribou, grizzly bears and grey wolves. While some intrepid folk have steamed through Skyline Trail in a day, most spend more time in this high-elevation (2,510 metres maximum) environment to truly appreciate its beauty. The trailhead is at Maligne Lake; as a linear route, you’ll need to arrange shuttle transport.
Meadow Lake Provincial Park, Saskatchewan
Officially opened six years ago, the 120-kilometre Boreal Trail is Saskatchewan Parks’ only officially designated backpacking trail. Meandering through lush Meadow Lake Provincial Park, a 1,600-square-kilometre beauty in the province’s northwest, hikers often choose to embark on a multi-day tour of this east-west route. Spend days beneath poplar, jack pine and spruce trees and fall asleep to a loon’s call at one of the plentiful back- and front-country campsites—or tackle it in smaller stages for easy day-hikes. Terrain is gentle with minimal elevation gains; the challenge comes in the distance.
Grey Owl's Cabin
Prince Albert National Park, Saskatchewan
If you’d like to pay homage to Grey Owl, take a hike to his cabin in Prince Albert National Park. Accessed via Kingsmere Road, near the town of Waskesiu, intrepid hikers can make their way to this cabin and burial site on the shores of Ajawaan Lake. The route follows the eastern shoreline of Kingsmere Lake, and has three campsites en route plus one at either end. This is all-backcountry—though bear caches, firewood and pit-toilets are available at the campsites. The path is typical boreal terrain and should take less than six hours each way. For a quicker way to find the cabin, a three-hour paddle across Kingsmere Lake, plus a 600-metre portage to Ajawaan Lake, bypasses the hiking route.
Whiteshell Provincial Park, Manitoba
Dave Reede Photography
Whether you choose to tackle the three- or four-day end-to-end route of Manitoba’s classic backpacking route or knock-off a day-trip segment, the 66-kilometre Mantario Trail delivers a hard-hiking challenge only two-and-a-half hours’ drive east of Winnipeg. Expect heaving Precambrian Shield terrain, granite cliffs, beaver dams, fallen timber, peat bogs, steep gullies, jack pines and maple trees. There are 10 primitive campsites along the route, with fire pits and food storage boxes and, maybe, a picnic table or two. The trail is well-marked, and water can be accessed at many points throughout. Parking is at the north and south trailhead—keep in mind this is not a loop, you’ll have to arrange return transport.
Coastal Hiking Trail
Pukaskwa National Park, Ontario
Set in Ontario’s largest national park—Pukaskwa—the Coastal Hiking Trail traces the wildest shore on all the Great Lakes for 60 memorable kilometres. Follow rock cairns along empty pebble beaches, meander through serene woodland, scramble over steep shoreline rocks and marvel at expansive views of Lake Superior. Well maintained and updated, there are campsites and suspension bridges along the route—though you will need to be self-sufficient and may ford some creeks. A one-way hike, travellers boat to North Swallow and hike out for 10 days to the trailhead.
La Cloche Silhouette Trail
Killarney Provincial Park, Ontario
Ontario Parks/Dave Sproule
If you can’t find a week off this year, you can still day-hike sections of the La Cloche Silhouette Trail from the George Lake Campground, but it’s worth the vacation time to tackle this classic Killarney trek in its entirety. Starting in the west, the route rambles through forested hills toward Acid and Lumsden lakes. You may have to cross a few streams; excellent wildlife watching abounds. Soon, you’ll be enjoying views of Georgian Bay as you hike over two-billion-year-old pink granite. In the eastern section, the trail ascends—culminating at The Crack, a strenuous daylong leg of this 100-kilometre-long trek. The sparkling white quartzite cliffs are worth the sweat; this area was once taller than the Rocky Mountains.
The Bruce Trail
Perhaps the most famous trail system in Canada, the Bruce Trail is a lovingly maintained, achingly scenic route that traverses nearly 900 kilometres through southern Ontario. Leading from the Niagara Escarpment to Georgian Bay, expect everything from mixed-woods forests, to vineyards, to quaint townships, to lakeside cliffs, to pristine waterfalls and more. Legs range from an hour or two to a week-plus. Or do the whole thing, if you have a month to spare—the routes are well-marked throughout.
Pingualuit National Park, Quebec
About 1.4 million years ago, a meteorite burned through the atmosphere above Arctic Quebec and smashed into the tundra, leaving a circular hole that looks today like it could have been poked by a punch. Filled with cobalt blue glacier water and surrounded by treeless barrengrounds, Pingualuit Crater is the namesake centrepiece of Nunavik’s Parc national des Pingualuit. To discover this wonder, join a nine-day guided trek into the park and learn about the land from Inuit guides, discover Nunamiut tent rings and perhaps even view elusive wildlife like caribou or muskox along the way. In Inuktitut, this region is dubbed nunavingmi pikkuminartuq, which means: “a remarkable location where a person may come to be revitalized.” And thanks to the full-service camp from which this trip is based, revitalization doesn’t come at the cost of creature comforts.
Bay of Fundy, New Brunswick
Craig Norris/Videoband Productions
The time to hike New Brunswick’s Fundy Footpath is now. Still relatively unknown, you can expect near-total serenity on this difficult 42-kilometre trek along the Bay of Fundy coastline. But word is getting out—and for good reason. Vistas from atop 100-metre-tall sea cliffs; empty beaches manipulated by extreme tides; thick mixed-woods forests—and did we mention zero crowds? This is for experienced hikers only. If your skill level isn’t quite there, try day-hikes on the nearby Fundy Trail—a maintained mixed-use network accessible for most people that still offers those wonderful views.
Liberty Lake Trail
Kejimkujik National Park and National Historic Site, Nova Scotia
More than 80 per cent of Nova Scotia’s Kejimkujik National Park is classified as “backcountry” and there are 46 designated campsites that can only be accessed via canoe or foot. At each, expect tent pads, fire pits, pit privy and cables to hoist your food cache clear of bears. So, when exploring the traditional home of the Mi’kmaq, where does one start? For the quintessential Keji experience, tackle the 64-kilometre Liberty Lake Trail. There are 11 options for backcountry camping along the route; though three or four nights out is a good rule of thumb. Lakes, babbling brooks, loons and moose will be your companions as you loop your way through mixed softwoods en route to Campsite 42—the most remote in the park’s entire 404-square-kilometres.
The Coastal Loop
Cape Chignecto Provincial Park, Nova Scotia
Accented by the famous Bay of Fundy tides ebbing-and-flowing below, views from atop Cape Chignecto Provincial Park’s 180-metre-tall sea cliffs reduce one to mumbling superlatives. And the best way to fully experience this scenic Atlantic preserve is via the 52-kilometre-long Coastal Loop. Starting as an easy front-country trek, be prepared to get serious after 12 kilometres—watch your footing between Mill Brook and Refugee Cove, where the trail becomes a series of switchbacks, and onward to Big Bald Rock, where it runs along the steepest sea cliffs in the province. There are seven backcountry campsites along the loop; most trekkers take three nights to complete the route.
The East Coast Trail
Avalon Peninsula, Newfoundland & Labrador
Tourism Newfoundland & Labrador
Another massive hiking route in Newfoundland, the East Coast trail runs south from Cape St. Francis, on the tip of the Avalon Peninsula, tracing the rugged Atlantic coastline for 265 well-marked and maintained kilometres to Cappahayden. Cute lighthouses, fluttering puffins and, offshore, leviathan whales and maybe even icebergs are just a few highlights. If you’re especially lucky, you may even spot the world’s southernmost caribou herd. Camp, or book B&B stays along the way and enjoy Newfoundland hospitality. And if you’re adventurous, you can continue on the “under construction” portion, an additional 275 kilometres that will one-day be as well marked as the inaugural half.
Talus Lake Trail
Tombstone Territorial Park, Yukon
Tombstone Mountains be your motivation as you sweat through this off-trail backpacking route. You’ll start in boreal forest before reaching scrubby birch and willow trees and, finally, the tundra. Over the next two days, veiw-points from Glissade and Grizzly passes are your rewards for the often-challenging conditions. Watch out for bears, and you may even spot migrating caribou. There are three campsites along the trail: Grizzly, Divide and Talus Lakes.
PS. Did these 18 hikes inspire you to get outside and explore more?
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