“I took a walk in the woods and came out taller than the trees”
- Henry David Thoreau
For anyone who knows us, it’s pretty clear that getting out in nature is integral to both our business and lives. From kayaking along the coast and surfing waves, to high-fives for crushing our climbing project and tackling a tricky downhill bike route. And you’ll regularly find us taking to the trails from the ocean to the old-growth under our own steam. Hiking continues to be one of our most-loved ways to opt outside. Taking a relatively slow and steady pace that allows us to soak in all that nature has to offer, while propelling us to epic viewpoints and quiet alpine campsites with our best adventure pals.
So it seemed obvious to put together a couple of awesome places across Canada that we think our community would enjoy spending time in this summer. From Vancouver Island and wider British Columbia through Ontario and out to the Maritimes these are some of our best Canadian hiking spots.
And while we’re getting out there, our commitment to Leave It Better than We Found It means packing out what we pack in, minimizing habitat disturbance, and avoiding single-use plastic. We’ve even compiled our best plastic-free eco-friendly adventure tips to lend our community a hand. It also means giving back through our Sitka Society for Conservation to unique areas that need are under threat like Clayoquot Sound Biosphere. And we’d be stoked to hear where you’re spending your adventures this summer. Or spots you think need extra awareness directed to for conservation and education.
Vancouver Island B.C.: Juan de Fuca
Hiking along our coast here on Vancouver Island lends ample opportunity to not only take in the island’s landscape but that of the ocean too. If you’re lucky you may spy transitory whales, seals, sea otters and more. And the ocean is the perfect place to cool off and refresh after a day’s hiking where you’re bound to get muddy and sandy. The Juan de Fuca is no mean feat. While not one of the longest hikes on the island, the 47km it covers is strenuous and you have to be careful and know your stuff when it comes to the tides. There’s a few spots that have to be covered at low tide.
If you’re not feeling up to the multi-day adventure, the good news is that there are parts of the trail that can be visited on a day trip. The China Beach campground is accessible by car, and Mystic Beach is a much easier walk-in for a very worthwhile night camping out on the sand between ocean and old-growth.
Other honourable mentions include time spent in Strathcona Provincial Park and taking to the sea in kayak or canoe around the Gulf Islands.
Mainland B.C.: E.C. Manning Provincial Park
On the other side of the Straight we’re pretty hard pushed to find just one place in all of B.C. we’d recommend for time spent in the alpine. We should probably just write a Best Hikes of British Columbia (in our humble opinion) blog too. While a couple of the more popular parks remain closed at the time of writing (we’re talking Garibaldi, Joffre Lakes and the Stawamus Chief Trail for starters), we’ve been formulating adventure plans on the mainland.
While many focus their efforts on the Sea-to-Sky area (and for good reason), we’re heading out East. Road tripping towards the Rockies we’ll try and stop every year for a day hike (at the very least) in the E.C. Manning Provincial Park. June and July are peak wildflower season with very accessible trails quickly taking you into the alpine meadows. If you’re adequately prepared for something a little more challenging, Manning is the key to the Canadian portion of the Pacific Crest Trail. The epic trail from Mexico to Canada immortalized in the book Wild.
Alberta: Tonquin Valley, Jasper National Park
The infamous Canadian Rockies is another hard one to pick and choose from. So we’re going to encourage you to get stuck into learning all about them and discovering your ultimate adventure list from the abundant trails. But if you really pushed us to choose just one for this summer, we’d go with the Tonquin Valley. Head up to the Jasper area for this 45km wilderness adventure. It’s one that is only recommended for more experienced hikers.
An incredible backcountry destination that’s renowned for its wildlife (including grizzly bears and a whole lot of mosquitos so be prepared). Take in views of Amethyst Lake, premier night sky gazing, a multitude of peaks, and unrivalled alpine vistas. The Alpine Club of Canada has a hut out here and there’s also two backcountry lodges. If you have the time there’s further day trips to be enjoyed from these bases.
Ontario: Sleeping Giant Provincial Park
Heading further East we can’t visit Ontario without taking in some of its infamous lakes. The Sleeping Giant Provincial Park in Thunder Bay offers 25 trails covering over 100kms, whether you’re keen for a day hike or want to make it an overnight trek. Step out on the Top of the Giant trail or make your way to Thunder Bay Lookout for views over the vast Lake Superior. And once you’ve spent time out on the cliffs and shoreline taking in the water, you can head into the more internal wilderness areas of the park. When it comes to wildlife and tuning into nature’s rhythm, be on the lookout for one of the over 200 bird species that have been recorded in the Sleeping Giant Provincial Park.
Quebec: Du Goffre Trail and Mont Jacques-Cartier
For this one we’re ticking off a portion of another epic trail like the PCT. The Du Goffre Trail is a small and relatively easy part of Canada’s The Great Trail — the longest recreational trail in the world at roughly 24,000km. Wander across a multitude of aesthetically-pleasing footbridges, through groves and forests and across the countryside’s farmlands. Villages along the way are brimming with old buildings, taking you on a journey through the province’s culture and history.
Looking for something a little more challenging? If you’re eager to keep this trend of travelling along infamous trails, then our honorable mention goes to Mont Jacques-Cartier. Located on the international Appalachian trail and offering both day hikes and backpacking trips. The latter an incredible 100km trail that crosses the Parc national de la Gaspésie from Mont Logan to Mont Jacques-Cartier. Taking in breathtaking vistas and valleys, forest and bold peaks.
The Maritimes: Cabot Trail and Cape Breton Highlands National Park
The incredible landscape of the Maritimes is often overlooked in favour of seemingly more popular tourist hotspots like British Columbia and the Rockies. Getting out here can feel like a different country. And you’ll be lucky enough to have some trails to yourself depending on the trail of choice and time of year. Including voiding the lingering question of whether there could be a grizzly bear around the next corner.
The Cabot Trail covers a distance of 297km and can be travelled by car. But we think it’s more than worthwhile to take in parts of it on foot. In particular the portion of the trail in the Cape Breton Highlands National Park to the North with 26 routes to choose from at varying levels. You’ll find yourself between the mountains and endless vistas of the ocean. Very apt and a bit of a requirement for an area called the Maritimes. Keep an eye out for moose, bald eagles and black bears. Link up the trails to commit to an overnight or multi-day trip — a night spent overlooking the sea at Fishing Cove in particular gets our vote.
A Lifetime of Adventures
We’re big believers in gear that is made to last the distance. Allowing you to focus on where you’re going, not what you’re wearing. So we have our ecologyst Lifetime Guarantee, because we truly believe in the adventure-ready pieces that we put out to our community. And if a little Type 2 fun does leave your gear worse for wear, we have our Repair Program ready with the aim of keeping textiles out of landfill.
Come explore our adventure-ready hiking gear. Combining durability with optimum comfort in soft, temperature-regulating merino wool and breathable organic cotton. Then let us know through Instagram and Facebook where you’re headed out to this summer, so we can join you on the journey and showcase our diverse community. Sign up to our emails below to be first to know when new ecologyst films are on their way, as well as offers on gear and exciting updates.