Skyline Trail
Credit: Parks Canada/Ryan Bray

Today, we're talking about "Micro-Adventures."

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:

Newfoundland & Labrador: East Coast Trail Slog 

East Coast TrailTourism Newfoundland & Labrador

Where: The planned extension of Newfoundland’s East Coast Trail on the northwest side of the Avalon Peninsula.

Why: Wild coastlines, rocky coves and the moody Atlantic as company.

What: The developed section of the East Coast Trail stretches 265 well-marked, mapped and serviced kilometres. The organization that manages the trail plans to add a further 275 km, including the 25 km of coast between Cape St. Francis and Portugal Cove. There’s already a route along this mostly undeveloped chunk, but it’s unmarked and rugged. Hikers are warned it, “should only be attempted by experienced remote wilderness hikers.”

Difficulty: Hard. Rugged terrain and navigation.

Time: Two to three days.

Logistics: Talk to the East Coast Trail Association to find out more about this section and other parts of the future trail.


Ontario: Paddle the Credit 

Credit River

Where: Through the heart of Mississauga.

Why: A rarely considered whitewater run with a taxi shuttle.

What: While it’s a lazy float in the summer, after a solid autumn rain, the Credit River becomes a little wild as it tumbles towards Lake Ontario. Put in at Steeles Avenue and then rock-and-roll past golf courses, parks and roadways. The green artery of forest and river not only harbours an impressive diversity of critters—beavers, muskrat, otters, raccoons—but also an instant escape from the surrounding city all the way to Port Credit.

Difficulty: Moderate; up to Class II whitewater; watch for sweepers. 

Time: A long day.

Logistics: Car shuttle from Port Credit to the put-in (or take a taxi).

Resources: (maps)

Alberta: Marathon in the Sky

Skyline TrailParks Canada/Ryan Bray

Where: The Skyline Trail backpacking route links Maligne Lake to Jasper, almost all above the treeline.

Why: Travel one of the best backpacking routes in the Canadian Rockies without a reservation or a heavy pack.

What: The 44-km trip is usually done over two to three days. Instead, lace up at Maligne Lake and hit the trail running. After a steady climb into the alpine at Little Shovel Pass, the trail stays above the trees for 25 km. Views across Jasper National Park’s craggy peaks are constant, as the trail follows the Maligne Range before diving into the forest for its final plunge to Maligne Canyon. 

Difficulty: Hard. Good trail but a long distance and lots of elevation gain and loss. 

Time: A long day.

Logistics: Have a car waiting for you at the end by taking the daily morning shuttle to Maligne Lake from the trail’s terminus at the North Skyline Trailhead.  


British Columbia: Earn a Hot Spring Soak 

Pitt LakeTourism BC

Where: The Pitt River above Pitt Lake, northeast of Vancouver.

Why: A backcountry hot springs—need more?

What: Locked off from Metro Vancouver by sheer mountain walls, getting to the upper Pitt River Valley means paddling 28 km up Pitt Lake from Grant Narrows Regional Park. Marvel at the nearly vertical walls of forest and paddle all the way to the dock at the lake’s northern end; switch to bikes and pedal 21 km up the logging road until it crosses the river. A short trail leads to the hot springs. Soak tired muscles, camp in a pullout on the logging road, soak again, then reverse your route.

Difficulty: Moderate. Easy paddling and biking, but a long distance. Watch for wind on Pitt Lake.

Time: Two to three days.

Logistics: Pitt Lake is tidally influenced. Try to coincide the start and finish of the trip with a high tide.

Resources: (info and canoe rentals)

British Columbia: Circumnavigate Esquimalt

Ocean River AdventuresOcean River Adventures

Where: Paddle the inner waters of Victoria.

Why: A fresh perspective on a charming city’s waterfront. 

What: Don’t let land get in the way of a circumnavigation of the Esquimalt Peninsula, via the Gorge and Esquimalt Harbour. Portage! There are at least a dozen potential put-ins, lots of great side-trips to check out—including the Fisgard Lighthouse—and restaurants, pubs and cafes are conveniently located along the route. Two things to keep in mind: avoid the upper Gorge on an outgoing tide when the currents are strong, and cross the peninsula between Portage Park and Shoreline Middle School using the pedestrian overpass above the highway.  

Difficulty: Moderate; about 20-km round trip.

Time: Four to eight hours.

Logistics: Rent boats or SUP at Ocean River Sports.