5 most challenging hiking trails in Canada

The rugged Canadian landscape provides some truly amazing terrain for trekking

James L. Stanfield/Getty Images

1. Canol Heritage Trail, N.W.T.: 350 km from the Yukon-Northwest Territories border to Norman Wells. At least 20 days for the full trail. Why go? Because this is one of the most remote and wilderness-filled experiences Canada offers.

2. West Coast Trail, B.C.: 75 km on the west coast of Vancouver Island. Up to seven days to complete. Why do it? To experience the diverse wildlife and sleep by the ocean.

3. Tombstone Territorial Park, Yukon: about 75 km, depending on the length of different hikes. Eight days to complete. Why up there? Because you start the hike with a helicopter ride. And this mountain range is “Beringia,” an area extending as far as Siberia that escaped the glacial scarring of the last ice age.

4. Pukaskwa National Park coastal hiking trail, Ont.: 60 km along Lake Superior’s shore. Takes five to seven days to complete. Why go? The trail offers the best chance to experience Ontario’s wild boreal forest, though watch out for the bears and wolves.

5. Sunshine Village, Alta., to Mt. Assiniboine, B.C.: 56 km. Roughly six days to complete. Why go? This spot is only accessible on foot or by helicopter and is renowned for its stunning views and opportunity to see wildlife, including mountain goats, bighorn sheep, elk and deer.

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5 most challenging hiking trails in Canada

  1. I have been on the western portion of the Canol Heritage Trail, and part of it is navigable by mountain bike although some stream crossings will be hard.

    You left out one of the most interesting, fascinating, and challenging hikes in Canada or the USA through the Chilkoot Trail International Historic Park from Skagway (Dyea), Alaska into the Yukon River watershed in northern BC. It is 53.1 KM’s of ruggest wilderness (33 miles) and you should take 5 days to complete.

    You travel through coastal rain forest, Grizzly Country, into 12 month snow fields at the summit, all the while seeing artifacts in situ from the 1898 Gold Rush. You then hike down valley to Lake Bennett which connects with the Yukon River which travels 3,178 KMs to the west coast of Alaska.

    It is one of the world’s great hikes.

    • I was over the Chilkoot Trail in 1970 before Parks Canada came parachuting in and claimed it and then charged you to go over it. Back then you would takle the White Pass and Yukon Route at Bennett, but first they would feed you roast beef and apple pie at the end of your hike, and then you would pile onto the train for a pleasant ride into Whitehorse.

  2. An often over-looked gem, La Cloche Silhouette in Kilarney Provincial Park, should be on this list. A challenging 100km loop including dramatic elevation changes (one ascent is roped!), pristine lakes and incredible views.

  3. Which trails have bears that are scared off by rocks? Which trails have had bear fatalities?! Bears basically ruin the outdoors for me here, outside the breadbasket and NS. My childhood dream was to live in a cabin in Golden or something, but gunshot wounds in the USA got me thinking I don’t need to carry a bear weapon around all the time…

  4. There’s the lesser known North Coast Trail – on the northern end of Vancouver Island. It’s considered to be the way the West Coast Trail was before improvements were made. From experience I’d say the Rockwall Trail – 4 days long – in Kootenay Nat’l Park is also a tough one.

  5. The Great Divide Trail should be on this list… 1200km from Waterton National park to Kakwa or Mount Robson. Challenging for sure, i did it this summer, beautiful!

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