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Kimball beach in Saskatchewan. (Photo courtesy of Tourism Saskatchewan/Paul Austring)
Kimball beach in Saskatchewan. (Photo courtesy of Tourism Saskatchewan/Paul Austring)

Exploring the Trans Canada Trail — the world’s longest

Coming to Canada? Bring your bike, kayak, good walking shoes or even your horse. If you arrive during the winter – yes, you can RV in parts of Canada all year round – bring your snowshoes or cross country skis.

You’ll never find another series of multi-use recreational trails anywhere in the world that’s longer or more interesting and diverse than Canada’s Trans Canada Trail.

Canadians can be dreamers and the group of people who were behind the creation of the Trans Canada Trail are definitely dreamers whose focus was to connect the country. For the most part, they have succeeded with only a short distance left to be completed by their end goal date of 2017.

Otherwise known as the Great Trail, it’s system of family-friendly, multi-use paths stretch 12,700 miles across the country winding its way from Canada’s Atlantic east coast to its most western Pacific shore and up into the territories and Arctic Ocean in the north. It meanders its way over the terrain linking 15,000-plus communities, past forests, over mountains and rivers, and alongside or over greenways, waterways and wheat fields.

(Photo courtesy of Tourism Victoria)
(Photo courtesy of Tourism Victoria)

 

What can you expect to see along the Trans Canada Trail?

Choosing a route may be difficult because of the amazing sights along the trail with opportunities for breathtaking views, seeing abundant wildlife, and historic landmarks. It’s possible to enjoy a casual stroll on a flat paved section through a community park, or have a dare-devil experience on a bike over a more challenging grade.

All ages and levels of fitness can and will appreciate different sections of the well-marked Trans Canada Trail.

Be prepared to enjoy city paths that may lead you through historic city centers like Thunder Bay in Ontario or Victoria in British Columbia. Stop at the museums, art galleries, playgrounds, bars, shops or restaurants along the way in some of the small towns or large cities all part of the trail system.

More than 80 percent of Canadians live within 30 minutes of the trail making it accessible from most of the locations RVers will travel to within Canada and who can easily try out many sections along the way.

Old railway beds have been repurposed into trails and the restored wooden trestle bridges, steam engines once chugged their way across have set the scene for many beautiful photos. Old cooking ovens once used by the Chinese workers who built the original railway bed can be found along the Kettle Valley portion in British Columbia.

Another former railway is the Le Ptit Train du Nord in Quebec, a well-maintained trail approximately 124 miles long that winds its way past historic train stations, through the Laurentians and many quaint towns.

(Photo courtesy of Canadian Tourism Commission)
(Photo courtesy of Canadian Tourism Commission)

Old train tracks are perfect for trails because their grade is never too difficult to maneuver plus they usually travel through some of the best scenery. The Confederation Trail on Prince Edward Island is one of those trails. Connecting many towns and villages it covers close to 270 miles over rolling hills and alongside beautiful seascapes with plenty of bird-watching opportunities. Look for herons, geese, and seagulls along the way.

Mountainside routes through the Rockies will lead everyone through scenery almost unheard of anywhere else in the country and also through the natural habitat of the local wildlife. Watch for bears, moose, beavers, wolves and big horned sheep and all kinds of smaller critters along the way.

If the Yukon is your destination, then the scenic Millennium Trail along the Yukon River and through the city of Whitehorse must be on your list. Parts of this trail are pedestrian-only and cyclists of all levels will appreciate the three-mile section of car-free traffic. Everyone will be impressed with the fish ladder and a chance to see some of the local underwater occupants.

Not interested in cycling or even walking? That’s okay because sections of the Trans Canada Trail are meant to be covered by water. Paddling a canoe or kayak along the South Saskatchewan River, Ontario’s Lake Superior, Nova Scotia’s Bras d’Or Lake, or traversing the Howe Sound north of Vancouver will allow you to get up close to waterfalls, rocky islands, beautiful sunsets, sandy beaches, and some very blue water.

(Photo courtesy of Prince Edward Island Tourism PEI/John Sylvester)
(Photo courtesy of Prince Edward Island
Tourism PEI/John Sylvester)

Day trips and adventures

Nowhere does it say everyone has to travel the full length of the trail. It’s perfectly okay to plan a day trip, an afternoon of exploring or a weeklong adventure. Park the RV in any one of the hundreds of Canadian campgrounds nearby and venture out by yourself or in a group.

Return to the rig at the end of the day or have someone take it to the next trailhead with a hot meal ready for those whose day was a bit more challenging. Pick a region, park the RV in a central location and plan to cover all the nearby trails, then move on to another area of the country.

Don’t be worried that it’s going to be too much of a challenge because many flat or smooth sections wander through community parks and playgrounds and the surface may be paved or covered in gravel. For those who would like more of a challenge other sections vary in grade depending on the part of the country you’re visiting.

Winter cross country skiing on the Trans Canada Trail. (Photo courtesy of Tourism Saskatoon)
Winter cross country skiing on the Trans Canada Trail. (Photo courtesy of Tourism Saskatoon)

It really doesn’t matter whether you prefer hiking, walking, paddling, cycling, horseback riding, snowshoeing, or cross country skiing there’s a section of the trail for everyone.

RVers tend to be outdoor people who enjoy recreational activities and the Trans Canada Trail provides endless opportunities for them to explore Canada’s distinctive and diverse landscape. They can discover the beauty of Canada and enjoy the historical sites, majestic scenery and meet the friendly Canadians and visitors from all over the world who come here each year to explore the Trans Canada Trail.

As you hike along your chosen path be willing to share it with others passing by on their horse or bike. Say hello, smile and carry on. That’s why the Trans Canada Trail was created – to connect the people of Canada, including its visitors.

Resources

Trans Canada Trail website — http://thegreattrail.ca

Map — http://thegreattrail.ca/explore-the-map

Okanagan Valley - Kettle Valley Railway portion of the TCT (Photo courtesy of Canadian Tourism Commission)
Okanagan Valley – Kettle Valley Railway portion of the TCT
(Photo courtesy of Canadian Tourism Commission)

About Carol Ann Quibell

Carol Ann Quibell is an RVer currently living in beautiful British Columbia. She is a freelance writer and columnist who enjoys sharing her travel tips and information. You can view her websites online at http://roamingrv.com and http://writefortravel.com

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