If your idea of a great weekend is to head off and discover a new trail—you’re not alone. A recent national poll indicated that 43 per cent of Canadians travelling domestically this year are considering using trails as part of their vacation plans. And a further 75 per cent of us use local trails on a regular basis.
With more Canadians than ever enjoying outdoor recreation, the federal government announced a $400 million investment over the next five years to help build new and expanded trail networks. This is good news for trail and tourism organizations around the country.
"New trails are an excellent addition to existing networks and help people discover often unknown landscapes,” says Suzie Loiselle, a media relations officer in Le Québec maritime.
With dozens of new biking, hiking, walking and multi-use trails opening (or under development) in communities across the country, here’s just a sampling of new pathways for you to explore:
ʔapsčiik t̓ašii Trail – Pacific Rim National Park Reserve (Vancouver Island, BC)
Winding 25 kilometres through the forest from the southern to the northern boundary of Long Beach in Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, ʔapsčiik t̓ašii Trail (pronounced ups-cheek ta-shee) doesn’t officially open until April 2022. But walkers and cyclists are already appreciating that the nearly complete trail keeps them off the Pacific Coast Highway and connects with the existing Tofino bike path. In a partnership between Parks Canada the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation (pronounced Clay-kwot) and Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ First Nation (pronounced yoo-thlew-ilth-uhht), the trail has been built to provide access to the park while protecting the ecologically and culturally sensitive landscape.
Ukme’k Trail – Kejimkujik National Park and National Historic Site (Nova Scotia)
Kejimkujik’s first new trail in decades is a winding one which is reflected in its Mi’kmaq name. Ukme’k (pronounced ook-may-k) means twist, and this is what the trail does as it meanders along the Mersey River offering walkers and cyclists an opportunity to explore the gentle Acadian forest and its diverse ecosystem. The 6.3 kilometres of new trail includes optional mountain biking features and connects to other parts of the riverside trail that runs from Mill Falls to Merrymakedge Beach.
Mountain Approach Trail – Gros Morne National Park (Newfoundland and Labrador)
Parks Canada Guillaume Paquette-Jetten
When the popular trail system in Gros Morne National Park was set to undergo a refurbishment, one of the updates high on the wish list for hikers was an approach trail that was gentler on the ecosystem and more suitable for a wider variety of hikers. The newly opened 4.5-kilometre one-way trail to the base of Gros Morne Mountain offers all this plus it boasts a variety of scenic views including crossing Crow Gulch Brook and a close-up view of a dramatic waterfall.
Island Walk – PEI
Members of Island Trails (some who have test-walked the new trail) modeled the 700 kilometre Island Walk around PEI on other great walks around the world. The idea is you can either spend a month and do the entire circuit—or set off on one of the four to seven day hikes and focus in on a theme. L. M. Montgomery fans can opt for a 95 kilometre stroll from Kensington to Charlottetown—which takes you to her birthplace and other highlights. Other trails include urban exploring, quiet back roads, beaches and forest trails and the itineraries even highlight points of interest and lunch stops.
Damnable Trail Network – Eastport Peninsula (Newfoundland and Labrador)
Credit Tom Cochrane
Don’t let the name fool you—this new (with a twist) trail system offers a variety of options depending on whether you prefer a leisurely high-tide stroll or are after a vigorous cliff-top hike. The local tourism group behind the trails says as much as the beautiful and dramatic trail system might appear new, some of the trails actually follow the pathways made by early settlers in the region, so every step is filled with history.
SunBurf Trail – Sun Peaks, BC
Over the past year Sun Peaks Recreational Trail Association (SPRTA) has busy trail-building to meet increased demand. In 2020 two new trails opened, ‘SunBurf’ and ‘About Time.’ SunBurf connects the west end of Sun Peaks to the village and will be used for hiking and biking during the summer months and snowshoeing and fat biking during the winter. This summer, three other new trails will connect to the system. One new trail will make SunBurf into part of a larger loop trail.
Sentier du Pin trail – Canyon des Portes de l’Enfer (Bas St-Laurent, Quebec)
Dog walkers will appreciate the moderate terrain of the new Sentier du Pin trail, the Gates of Hell Canyon. “It’s an 8.5-kilometre hiking trail that allows visitors to admire a century-old pine tree and get to the tip of a lake,” says Loiselle. With this trail addition, visitors can now explore 20 kilometres of paths through the park—which gives more space for everyone to experience a bit of solitude.
Devon Battery Creek Trail – Edmonton AB
The River Valley Alliance has been working to build a continuous 100-kilometre trail through Edmonton’s River Valley for over a decade. The newest section takes hikers up on a high bank above the river’s edge and offers panoramic views of the waterway. With the addition of the Battery Creek trail, the popular (but nameless) riverside trail now spans 70 kilometres and is in search of an official moniker. The committee says they’ll be searching for a “unifying end-to-end trail name that reflects the historic Indigenous usage on the river.”
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