For serious hikers, nothing beats the reward of spending multiple days on the trail. With a backpack full of essential gear, a remote campsite to spend the night at and a couple of your best hiking buddies at your side, a backpacking trip through the Canadian wilderness can be the adventure of a lifetime. And no matter which part of the country you find yourself in, there are some incredible backpacking routes to explore, from the rainforests and beaches of Vancouver Island’s West Coast Trail to the misty coastline of New Brunswick’s Fundy Footpath and the challenging northern terrain of Nunavut’s Itijjagiaq Trail.


With 2019  upon us, the BRMB crew is looking forward to checking off as many adventures as possible in the new year. We’ve decided to give you a peak at what’s at the top of our backpacking bucket list in the following blog – we’re confident this list will inspire you to get out and hit the trails!


West Coast Trail, British Columbia

This 75 km (47 mi) one-way trail offers a mix of casual ocean-side walking and several sections of near-vertical ladder climbing surrounded by the pristine rainforest. Imagine seven days spent in uninterrupted west coast wilderness, waking up on oceanfront campsites to the spray of a whale in the distance and eagles soaring overhead. It is this mixture of serenity and intense physical challenges that make the West Coast Trail a bucket-list backpacking experience.


Image via / Vancouver Island GPS Maps


Skyline Trail, Alberta

This 44 km (27 mi) trail is located in Jasper National Park and leads you through some of the Canadian Rockies’ most breathtaking scenery. Most people take at least three days to complete this trek, with over half of that time spent above the treeline, making your way along the crest of the Maligne Range. Highlights include The Notch, which is the trail’s highest point, and stunning views of Mount Tekara. This one is best left until later in the season since, thanks to the high elevation, snow can remain until the end of August.


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Boreal Trail, Saskatchewan

At 120 km (75 mi) in length, this is Saskatchewan’s longest hiking route and its premiere backpacking destination. The trail leads you through the wilderness of Meadow Lake Provincial Park, taking you past several lakes and along the Waterhen River, with stands of Jack pine, spruce, poplar and birch creating a fertile habitat for wildlife such as beaver, squirrel, moose, wolves and a variety of songbirds. There are several access points that allow you to shorten the trip to your liking, but hiking the entire trail is the best way to get the most out of this bucket list backpacking adventure.


Image via / Saskatchewan GPS Maps


Mantario Trail, Manitoba

Located in Whiteshell Provincial Park, this 60 km (38 mi) trail is Manitoba’s quintessential backpacking destination. The trail takes three to four days to complete and leads you through outcrops of Precambrian shield surrounded by lakes, streams and peat bogs. The trail climbs along granite ridges, offering panoramic views of the surrounding wilderness, then descends into gullies and ravines. This area is rich with wildlife and you may encounter species such as bald eagle, leopard frog and red fox. When it comes to backpacking in Manitoba, the Mantario Trail should be at the top of everyone’s bucket list.


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Bruce Trail, Ontario

While most hikers will find the entire 890 km (550 mi) length of this trail a little much, there are numerous access points that allow you to shorten it to your liking. The trail stretches from the Niagara River to Tobermory and leads you along the edge of the Niagara Escarpment, one of thirteen UNESCO World Biosphere Reserves in Canada. The trail takes you past countless waterfalls and through old-growth coniferous forest, as well as multiple provincial parks and conservation areas. No matter which section of the trail you decide to tackle, or even if you choose to hike the whole distance, this is one Ontario backpacking route that needs to be checked of your bucket list.


Image via / Canadian Encyclopedia


Les Sentiers de L’Estrie, Quebec

Stretching all the way from Sutton to Kingsbury, this 200 km (124 mi) trail network leads you through some stunning mountain terrain, including Mont Sutton and Mont Orford. Designated campsites are found throughout its length, and the trails can be cross-country skied and snowshoed in the winter. B&B’s and inns are also available for those looking for some more comfortable accommodations. The Sentiers de L’Estrie is regarded as Quebec’s oldest trail system and should be crossed off of any serious backpacker’s bucket list.


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Fundy Footpath, New Brunswick

Extending from the Goose River at the western extreme of Fundy National Park to the mouth of the Big Salmon River, this 41 km (26 mi) backpacking trail leads you through one of the largest intact coastal wilderness areas on the east coast of North America. The trail will take three to four days to complete and the famous Bay of Fundy tides, dense fog, Acadian forest and abundant wildlife make this a truly spectacular backpacking journey.


Image via / New Brunswick GPS Maps


Cape Chignetco Coastal Loop, Nova Scotia

Beginning and ending at the Red Rock Trailhead in Cape Chignetco Provincial Park, this 48 km (30 mi) loop trail leads you along the rocky coastline, through old-growth forest and below 200 metre (650 ft) cliffs. There are 47 wilderness campsites found along the route, plus three cabins, and you can hike in either a clockwise or counter-clockwise direction. For dramatic views and a multi-day escape into nature, you can’t beat this bucket-list backpacking adventure.


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East Coast Trail, Newfoundland

Stretching for 270 km (168 mi) from Cape St. Francis in the north to Cappahayden in the south, this trail is broken up into 24 sections and also features an additional 275 km (171 mi) of undeveloped trail to explore. Highlights along the trail are numerous, with deep fjords, wave-driven geysers, abandoned villages, lighthouses, icebergs, seabird colonies and much more encountered along your trek. This is a remote wilderness trail, but if you’re up for the challenge you can expect the backpacking trip of a lifetime.


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Confederation Trail, Prince Edward Island

Stretching from one tip of PEI to the other, this former railway line spans 435 km (270 mi) in total, with the main branch extending for 273 km (170 mi) between Tignish and Elmira. The trail passes through many communities where you can stop and sample local cuisine, and geocachers will find over 1,600 sites along its length. Lighthouses, beaches, sprawling farmland and rolling hills await hikers along this bucket-list backpacking adventure.


Image via / Eastern Canada GPS Maps


Chilkoot Trail, Yukon

Beginning in Dyea, Alaska, this historic Gold Rush Trail stretches for 53 km (33 mi) one-way and in the late 1890s was the main travel route for thousands of prospectors trying to make it to Dawson City. Due to the harsh conditions of life in the Yukon, prospectors were obligated by Canadian officials to bring close to a tonne of supplies with them, turning the journey into a months-long affair, with one especially difficult crossing dubbed the Golden Staircase. These days you can get away with just a backpack and a few days on the trail, and campsites and shelters are conveniently located all along its length.


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Canol Heritage Trail, Northwest Territories

Known as one of the most challenging backpacking trails in North America, this 355 km (220 mi) trail stretches from Norman Wells to the Yukon border. Originally built as an oil transport route during WWII, the road was only used for one year before it began to revert to its natural state. This has created a paradise for experienced wilderness hikers. The trail leads you through the Mackenzie Mountains and includes numerous river crossings, with most hikers taking two to three weeks to complete the journey. If you are looking for a remote experience and a serious challenge, then the Canol Heritage Trail is one to cross off your backpacking bucket list.


Image via / Outpost Magazine


Itijjagiaq Trail, Nunavut

This difficult 120 km (75 mi) trail follows a traditional Inuit route between the towns of Kimmirut and Iqualit on Baffin Island. Best hiked in July and August, this trail leads you past deep gorges, rolling hills, waterfalls and boulder-strewn plateaus. Caribou, foxes, wolves and polar bears may be seen as you make your way along this bucket-list backpacking trail.


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You can navigate your way along these and many other amazing backpacking routes with the help of our Backroad Mapbooks and GPS Maps!



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