Skip to main content

Canada Officially Completes the World’s Longest Continuous Trail System, The Great Trail

The Great Trail - Connecting Canadians
Based on land mass alone, Canada is the second largest country in the world — but leave it to Canadians to devise an interconnected network of trails to explore the totality of that massive area on foot. Just in time to celebrate Canada’s sesquicentennial (the country’s 150th anniversary), The Great Trail has been completed and is now officially the longest continuous recreational trail system in the world.

On August 26, authorities announced that the last piece of The Great Trail was finally in place. It stretches from the Pacific Ocean to the Arctic Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean — a span of 24,000 kilometers (about 15,000 miles) across 13 provinces and territories. Outdoor lovers can now walk, hike, bike, ski, or ride a horse from coast to coast to coast. Officials point out that about one-quarter of the trail’s length follows waterways, so hikers will need to prepare for canoeing and kayaking at various spots along the trail. But, for outdoor lovers, that’s certainly not a bad thing.

The Great Trail Canada Interactive Map
Interactive Map/The Great Trail Image used with permission by copyright holder

The Great Trail was 25 years in the making and represents an astounding feat of engineering that dwarfs other long-distance trails (the Appalachian Trail comes to mind). To create this impressive network, existing trails were stitched together with newly cleared and developed land. Individual segments will be governed by hundreds of different authorities and government organizations, all working in concert.

Most noteworthy is how the trail affects the country on a cultural level. The Great Trail’s completion connects a staggering 15,000 Canadian communities. It’s the perfect way for resident lovers of the outdoors to easily venture farther from their hometown. In addition to touching the country’s most famous natural highlights, like the world record-setting tides of the Bay of Fundy and the stunning Gulf Islands in the west, it also affords travelers a more straightforward way to explore Canada’s more remote reaches. The trail, for example, touches dozens of First Nation Inuvik communities in the vast Arctic tundra.

The Great Trail is free for all to explore. Before setting out, we’d highly recommend making advanced preparations via this interactive map.

Editors' Recommendations

Mike Richard
Mike Richard has traveled the world since 2008. He's kayaked in Antarctica, tracked endangered African wild dogs in South…
Audi has a new eMTB, and it’s looking as phenomenal as their cars
Audi releases new e-bike
The new Audi eMTB e-bike

You may have an Audi in your garage, but I’m guessing that it most likely isn’t a mountain bike. As mountain biking continues to grow in popularity, it isn’t a surprise that we see more companies getting into the dirt-oriented sport.

But Audi is no stranger to off-road pursuits. The brand made a name for itself in the 1980s at the World Rally Championships by introducing its Quattro All-Wheel Drive. Now, Audi is breaking into the mountain bike market with the introduction of its Audi e-bike.

Read more
How to avoid a bison attack this summer (and any time of the year)
These huge animals don't seem dangerous, but they can be and you don't want to mess with them
Two bison in a field

Let’s start with the facts: It’s highly unlikely you’ll ever be attacked by a majestic bison, a symbol of the American West. The docile beasts, a species that once blanketed the continent by the millions now, call only a few places home.
So, unless you’re passing through Yellowstone country (including the Grand Tetons) or the Wind Cave National Park area of North Dakota, you’re probably not going to encounter a bison. However, a few wild herds are believed to reside elsewhere, such as in Utah. The many commercial herds out there won’t be escaping their pens anytime soon, but it's still helpful to know how to avoid a bison attack, no matter what, as it applies to a lot of larger mammals in the creature kingdom.
This is certainly handy for those visiting the nation’s first and foremost park. An estimated 5,000 bison wander the many meadows and river valleys of this breathtaking Western landscape. The population fluctuates a bit each year, as some of the animals are hunted when they mosey past park boundaries. Overall, though, this is the wildest batch of bison America has left, and it’s a delight to be in the company of the animal.
For the record, bison are as quick as horses, able to reach speeds of 35 miles per hour. That’s a heck of a lot faster than you can run, even if you’re Usain Bolt (remember him?). Oh, and they can weigh up to a ton, with a lot of that weight distributed in a massive, horn-clad head. That’s big enough for the largest mammal in North America (Sidenote: Buffalo reside in Africa while bison live in America). No, they're not going to eat you as they prefer grass, but they can trample you or launch you like a rag doll (Warning: It's a sobering video but worth watching to appreciate raw power). 
So, you don’t stand much of a chance against this animal in the unlikely scenario where it feels provoked or threatened and charges your way. Every year, there are cases of attacks in Yellowstone especially, but the vast majority of the time, it’s the tourists who are making all the wrong decisions.

Tips to avoid a bison attack

Read more
Everyone needs to know how to hang a bear bag, including you
This is a survival skill you need to know in the backcountry
A bear bag hanging from a tree branch

Do you like peanut butter? How about instant oatmeal or trail mix -- or at least the M&M's you pick out from the overstuffed trail mix bag? Well, so does every mountain critter, from a cute little squirrel to a big ol' Grizzly. If you're heading into the backcountry and know you'll be in bear territory, it's time to learn how to hang a bear bag. Although it sounds like a basic, self-explanatory task, there is a right way and a wrong way to store your food.

Take note that bear bags are typically only necessary in backcountry situations. Most road-accessible or well-maintained campsites have bear boxes for food, negating the need to provide your own storage gear.
What are bears most attracted to?

Read more