What is a Micro-Adventure?
These are trips that are close to home, affordable, easy to organize and doable in short periods of time—but wild, original and challenging.
Here are five of the best—start planning your year:
Nova Scotia: Better than Peggy’s Cove
Where: Paddling the protected Atlantic Coast just outside of Halifax.
Why: White granite cliffs, coastal barrens and the chance to see whales, all less than 40 minutes from the Maritimes’ biggest city.
What: Often overlooked for Peggy’s Cove, the coast between Halifax and Bayside is wilder, emptier and more interesting. While there’s plenty of beauty to soak in, the highlight is between Sambro and Prospect, where two parks, plenty of islands and too many inlets make the scenic coast feel more remote than it is.
Difficulty: Easy to hard, depending on distance paddled and sea and weather conditions.
Time: A few hours to three days.
Logistics: Most of the towns have good put-ins and take-outs and are linked on good roads.
Ontario: Traverse the Newest Park
Parks Canada/Scott Munn
Where: Toronto’s Rouge Urban Park
Why: An almost wilderness-feeling trek in the middle of our country’s biggest city.
What: Take the fact that there is no obvious route leading from one end to the other in this future national park as an invitation to ramble. Start walking near Lake Ontario and head north. Stop at two national historic sites, farms, the zoo and plenty of wild-feeling Carolinian Forest in between. Day-hike and return on public transit. Random camping is frowned upon, but there’s also Glen Rouge Campground near the beginning, the only campground in the city.
Difficulty: Moderate, some bushwhacking may be required.
Time: Half-day to two days.
Logistics: Plenty of roads crisscross the park, so shuttling is easy. Better, use public transit. There’s a Go Transit train station close to the southern border of the park.
Saskatchewan: Paddle the Trans Canada Trail
Where: The South Saskatchewan River into Saskatoon.
Why: Prairie paddling and dark nighttime skies on a newly noted Canadian Heritage River.
What: It’s 130 km from the Gardiner Dam to Saskatoon on the South Saskatchewan River. With fall’s low water and shorter days, that’s a solid pull for a weekend trip. It’s possible to bite off a smaller chunk or just commit and let the changing colours along the bank fuel long hours in a boat. Camp at abundant sandbars en route.
Difficulty: Hard, because of distance—easy paddling.
Time: Three long days.
Logistics: CanoeSki Discovery Company runs shuttle and rental services.
Alberta: Explore Alberta’s Sandhills
Where: On the north shore of the Athabasca River near Fort Assiniboine, 1.5 hours north of Edmonton.
Why: Beyond its namesake sand dunes, Fort Assiniboine Sandhills Wildland Provincial Park’s transitional forest is home to 436 plant species and abundant wildlife.
What: Trails spider-web across the park. With a little imagination, link them together into a loop stretching 40 km. Start at the Klondike Trail Staging Area and head clockwise, following a wagon route from Voyageur and Gold Rush days. Heading north and east, the trails leave the swampier, higher ground and enter the dune fields, a unique environment left behind by Ice Age glaciers. On the return, take the River Valley Trail. It descends into old growth trees along the river, home to the most plants and animals.
Difficulty: Easy to hard, depending on distance.
Time: Up to 12 hours.
Logistics: Drive to Fort Assiniboine and follow Township Road 620A to 621A.
British Columbia: Explore a Little-Known Park
Sol Mountain Lodge
Where: Monashee Provincial Park, deep in the southern BC interior.
Why: A vast sub-alpine ramble with a chance to see caribou.
What: Tucked deep in the Monashee Mountains, northeast of Kelowna, the park is an anomaly: remote, but easy to access, rarely visited, but with a good approach trail. Hike to Little or Big Peters lake campground, both set in an alpine basin full of lakes and meadows and surrounded by easy-to-climb peaks and passes. From the base, pick a destination and explore—the big prize being the summit of Mount Fosthall.
Time: Three days.
Logistics: The park is most easily reached from the west, via good logging roads from Cherryville, or with a stay at Sol Mountain Lodge.