You’ll need an infinitely bigger bucket, or a longer list, after adding these full-day adventures across our diverse country. It can all be conquered in one very long day of running/hiking, or stretched out over several days of fastpacking (or traditional hiking).
From the coast of Vancouver Island to the highest point of Cape Breton Island, these trail expeditions are guaranteed to be awe-inspiring – and we’ve included some gear tips to get you started.
La Cloche Silhouette Trail, Killarney, ON.
Details: 78 km, 2,590 meters of elevation gain
Bell Silhouettes Trail is a 78km run/hike loop over and through the rugged quartzite peaks of the La Cloche mountain range in Killarney Provincial Park in Ontario. The trail is named Group of Seven painter Franklin Carmichaelthe masterpiece, The Silhouette Bell. Expect to see wildlife: black bear, moose, deer, snakes, turtles, beaver and more. Note that the trail is almost a loop, but actually a point-to-point route between the east and west trailheads on either side of Lake George.
Calgary-based athlete Ethan Frank hiked the trail west to east in September 2021. Frank describes the scenery as “beautiful and unrelenting”, with La Cloche’s “characteristic mix of granite slab and deep forest”.
Frank adds: “There are sudden and relentless transitions between steep climbs and descents on usually very rocky and rooty singletrack, and the mental focus needed to move quickly through such terrain proved to be the real crux. of the day.” Would he do it again? “One hundred percent,” he said. If you do this in one push, expect a day of 15 hours or more.
The equipment you will need: Flight Gloves
These water resistant gloves are designed to protect you from the wind and keep those precious fingers warm and dry while allowing great freedom of movement. They can be layered over thin knit gloves on the coldest days, wick sweat away and let you use your touchscreen to capture all the best trail moments.
Juan de Fuca Marine Trail, Vancouver Island, BC
Distance/elevation: 47 km, 1,828 meters of elevation gain
The Juan de Fuca Marine Trail is a rugged 30 mile trip with jaw-dropping ocean views, ankle-deep rock scrambling, and a continuously rolling trail (I only noticed one flat section of the trail – be prepared many climbs and descents). Located in Juan de Fuca Provincial Park, along the southwest coast of Vancouver Island, the trail stretches from China Beach (35 km west of Sooke) at Botanical Beach (just outside Port Renfrew), and runners or hikers can park on one side of the road and catch the bus on the other; I took a bus from Victoria to Port Renfrew to start my hike.
Panoramic view of the coast, Strait of Juan de Fuca and the olympic mountains can be seen from many points along this rainforest trail. It’s not uncommon to see sea lions, bald eagles, herons, and other wildlife (I saw a black bear, as well as many sea lions and eagles). Like most west coast trails, this one is in the rainforest and can be very muddy. If you’re up for a bigger adventure, you can connect the Juan de Fuca Trail to the West Coast Trail (you’ll have to do the WCT first, due to reservation requirements), and I’ve met a few hikers who had started the the WCT, then continued because of its beauty.
Although you can hike this trail in a day, the scenic views, wildlife, and lonely beauty of this hike will have you planning a return trip to soak up the sights at a slower pace. Unlike the longer West Coast Trail (75 km) the Juan de Fuca Trail does not require a reservation; however, there is a backcountry camping fee of $10 per person/per night.
The equipment you will need: Flight Lightriser FUTURELIGHT™ Jacket
This waterproof and breathable jacket is perfect for tackling a long rainy run. Internal pocket means it folds in on itself for easy storage; the minimalist design allows you to stick it in your vest or bag and forget it’s there.
Chic-chocs trail, Quebec
Distance: 56-96 km depending on route, approx. 4,547 meters elevation gain/loss
The Chic-chocs trail is a 96 km point-to-point trail near Rivière-Bonjour, Quebec, located at Gaspesie National Park. Generally considered a difficult route, you have plenty of well-mapped options to hike sections of the trail, or to do it overnight quickly if navigating it in one push seems like too much. The park suggests hikers allow 32 hours of travel time to complete the entire stretch. Reservations must be made at least 72 hours in advance if you plan to stay overnight on the trail. Transportation is always available one way (east to west), from the Discovery and Visitors Center (Mont-Albert section) to Mont Logan.
Montreal-based Ultrarunner and TNF Anne Bouchard says she loves this trail. “above all others, It’s my favourite. The most beautiful mountains in Quebec. It is in fact a section of the International Appalachian Trail (SIA/SIA) which covers almost all of Gaspésie. It is possible to do it in segments or in its entirety. Bouchard, who owns the FKT on the entire 650K SIA trail, says this area is part of Canadian history and should be seen by everyone. She adds that sections of it are “very special in winter, with stunning views of giant pine trees full of snow.”
The equipment you will need: Flight VECTIV™ x Elvira Shoes
These lightweight and responsive trail shoes are designed to explore nature more deeply. Tough enough to keep you grounded as you run a variety of trail networks, these shoes will have you crossing streams, climbing mountains, and descending hills. The reinforced toe protects your feet on rough terrain.
Rockwall Trail, Kootenays, BC
Details: 56 km, 2,438 meters of elevation gain
The Rock Face Trail is a 56 mile trail in Kootenay National Park on a section of the much longer Great Divide Trail. The race route is usually Floe Lake Trailhead to Paint Pots Trailhead and is sometimes completed as a three to four day hike. Renowned ultrarunner Ailsa MacDonald says Rockwall is a favorite. “I’ve done it both ways and prefer to start at Floe Lake and run to Paint Pots. It’s a much nicer and easier run or hike. It’s a clean descent for the last few miles whichever direction you do it, but it’s a much more technical descent coming from Floe Lake.
MacDonald adds that the trail is easy to hike and the views are spectacular. “Other than Floe Lake to the parking lot, the trail is pretty well maintained, just lots of elevation. There are always people moving from car park to car park, so there’s no need to drop a car off – it’s easy to take a ride if you’re comfortable with it,” explains Mac Donald. This is a popular year-round section of trail, but it’s also most definitely bear country, so stay alert and pack bear spray.
The equipment you will need: Flight 8 Race Day Vest
This vest is ideal for long days of running. It’s lightweight and sweat-wicking, yet durable enough to hold all your essentials. You’ll be surprised at how much you can take with you and grateful when you pull out that much-needed snack.
Skyline Trail, Cape Breton Island, NS
Details: 6.5 km round trip; Loop of 8.2 km/elevation of 290 to 405 meters
This is by far the shortest route on our list, but it is arguably the most essential and certainly the most accessible. Hit the trail at sunrise or sunset for an indescribable experience. This is an easy, partially wooded trail, but even the most FKT-obsessed ultra-endurance athlete will be awestruck by its beauty and full of awe for the vastness of Canada on this quick jaunt. . A dramatic headland cliff overlooks the rugged coastline from the end of the trail. You’ll savor a bird’s eye view of the Cabot Trail as it winds its way up the mountainside. Watch for whales in the Gulf of St. Lawrence from observation decks and be on the lookout for moose and bald eagles.
I’ve had the chance to race in different countries and race in amazing places, and this fast-paced race has always been the highlight for the past few years. I timed my arrival at the parking lot for sunrise and was entirely alone at the trailhead. It was an hour that I will neither be able to replicate nor forget – and it made me want to explore this vast country even more. Skyline is at the highest point of the Cabot Trail and is a short drive from the city of Inverness.
The equipment you will need: First Dawn Packable Jacket
Pull out this waterproof, breathable shell for the miles before dawn and get away from the ocean breeze. When it warms up, store it in your waistcoat or even in a pocket: it hardly folds up anymore.
Presented by The North Face