Welcome to The Great Trail
It was a long time coming. A quarter of a century, to be exact. But in 2017, to commemorate Canada’s 150th year, 432 existing trails in 10 provinces and three territories were officially connected to create The Great Trail, a 15,000-mile (24,000-km) urban, rural, and wilderness route across the world’s second biggest country.
Snaking through Canada from coast-to coast-to-coast—Atlantic to Pacific to Arctic—The Great Trail was a bold dream to join diverse cultures and wildly varied landscapes throughout this vast, sprawling land. With three Mile Zero trailheads—west in Victoria, British Columbia, north in Tuktoyaktuk, Northwest Territories, and east in St. John’s, Newfoundland—The Great Trail connects more than 15,000 communities, from major cities to country villages, via wilderness trails through mountains and wide open-prairies, on rural and urban roadways and pathways, and even along waterways (25% of the route is on ocean, rivers and lakes). Most importantly, 80% of Canadians can reach The Great Trail within 30 minutes.
A living symbol of national collaboration, the world’s longest recreational trail was a huge effort brought to fruition by thousands of local municipalities and organizations, grass roots supporters, volunteers, partners, and sponsors like Clif Bar & Company, all of whom recognized in The Great Trail the like-minded values of raising awareness of the outdoors and protecting the places where we play.
We already support a roster of more than a dozen exceptional Canadian pro athletes, so it seems only fitting to sponsor 150 kilometers of connecting pathway in honor of Canada’s anniversary. We’re excited by The Great Trail’s potential as an exercise and adventure corridor for athletes and recreation seekers of every fitness level.
For the relatively small population of Canadians living across the huge country, the vast distances have always been a barrier, both physically and culturally. Yet the trail is common ground for all, not only by linking communities, but also by providing a means to discover Canada at a human pace, a communal space.
The Great Trail is a gift from Canadians to themselves, an ongoing legacy project for coming generations that will never be truly finished, as new enthusiasts continue to add loops and extensions.
The trail also pays homage to Canada’s past as it follows in the footsteps of history: of First Nations who travelled this landscape for millennia; of explorers, dreamers, and fur trading voyagers who paddled and portaged from coast to coast; of the late 19th century transcontinental railway that first knit together Canada’s east-west coasts; and finally the modern, nationwide Trans-Canada Highway.
The goal of this artery that wends through the heart of Canada is to introduce the world to friendly Canadians who are proud of their diverse cultures and landscapes. But this epic trail should also tempt and inspire everyone to get outdoors on easily accessible urban, rural, and wilderness pathways.
A Great Trail – Explore Canada app makes planning simple. So, when visiting our neighbors to the north, get out for a walk, hike, bike, ski or paddle. It doesn’t matter for how long—a month across the Arctic tundra or an hour on an urban bicycle path—because how can a nationwide labor of love like this make you feel anything but great?!