Day Hikes Across Canada

MEC picks: day hikes across Canada

Follow MEC Ambassadors and staff as we list some of our favourite hikes across the nation, east to west.

Nova Scotia

Left Middle Head Trail

Day Hikes Across Canada

Recommended by: MEC staffer Haley M.
Distance: 3.8km loop
Duration: 1–2 hours

Middle Head Trail is located in Cape Breton Highlands National Park, not far from Ingonish Beach and just beyond the popular Keltic Lodge. Gorgeous and winding, the trail guides hikers all the way to the end of the peninsula. Along the route there are diverse plants and rock formations, signage that explains the history of the path and some breathtaking sneak peeks of the Atlantic through an occasional break in the trees. At the end you’ll likely see birds nesting and whales playing just off of the high cliffs, making it a choice spot for a picnic lunch.

 

Cape Split Trail

Day Hikes Across Canada

Recommended by: MEC staffer Emily H.
Distance: 16km return
Duration: 4–5 hours

Just a 40 minute drive from Wolfville, the Cape Split Trail is beautiful and meandering. You won’t find any crazy steeps here, just amazing views of the ocean through lush trees. At the end of your 8km walk out to the point, you’ll see crazy jutting rock formations, two different ocean currents smashing into each other and a comfy perch to enjoy your lunch.

Find more ideas in Atlantic region hiking books and maps

Quebec

Le Sentier des Pionniers, Mont Sainte-Anne

Day Hikes Across Canada

Recommended by: MEC Ambassador Louis Rousseau
Distance: 6km return
Duration: 2 hours

Just 30 minutes from Quebec City, Mont Sainte-Anne rises up from the shores of the Saint Lawrence River, offering spectacular views of Charlevoix region to the east and the city to the west. Le Sentier des Pionniers is a favourite route to the summit, with more shade and less wind than neighboring trail La Crête, plus plenty of spots to enjoy a snack while you observe Orleans Island. The trail is a great option for trail runners as well, since you can finish in 30-40 minutes and you can catch a ride down from the summit if the gondolas are open.

 

Acropole-des-Draveur dans le Charlevoix

Day Hikes Across Canada

Recommended by: MEC staffer Nadine D.
Distance: 10.4km return
Duration: 4–6 hours

Those up for a challenge will dig this day hike that comes with 800m of vertical gain. From the forest floor to the summit, you’re surrounded by lush mountain foliage and climb a couple of kilometers of stone steps. Bonus: chance encounters with caribou are a fun precursor to views of the Rivière Malbaie and surrounding mountains.

 

Rocky Rouge Trail, Mont St-Hiliare

Day Hikes Across Canada

Recommended by: MEC Staffer Melanie S.
Distance: 9.6km return
Duration: 3.5 hours

Wide and teeming with lush trees, Rocky Rouge Trail is a nice and easy day hike from Montreal. Plan your trip to reach Hertel Lake around lunch – its glassy surface is an ideal spot to relax in nature with an alpine sandwich. Higher up the path narrows and starts to show its roots – literally – before offering up awesome views of Montreal, the low lands and the other Monteregian hills at the summit.

Find more ideas in Quebec hiking books and maps

 

Ontario

Mono Cliffs Provincial Park

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Recommended by: MEC Ambassador Jim Willet
Distance: 3–10km return, depending on route chosen
Duration: 1–3 hours

With the famed Bruce Trail running through it, Mono Cliffs Provincial Park is truly picturesque. There are lots of side trails – walk through a canyon on Spillway Trail or along 30-metre cliffs on Cliff Top Trail – to make a beautiful morning or afternoon hike. There are some technical aspects in spots, but for the most part it’s a nice accessible area that lends itself to people of all different skill sets, making it perfect for beginners and those with less outdoor experience.

The Bruce Trail, Tobermory to Little Cove

Day Hikes Across Canada

Recommended by: MEC staffer Shane V.
Distance: 13.4km return
Duration: 3 hours

The Bruce Trail is Canada’s oldest and longest marked path, spanning more than 890km on the main route and encompassing over 400km of side trails. While it may be known for its scenic strolls, the trail can be quite technical too. Take off early in the morning on a summer day when the quiet atmosphere makes it easier to spot wildlife and be sure to layer over a swimsuit so you can take a dip once you spot the crisp, clean waters of nearby Georgian Bay.

The Bluff Trail, Awenda Provincial Park

Day Hikes Across Canada

Recommended by: MEC staffer Kathryn T.
Distance: 13km return
Duration: 3.5 hours

Located approximately 150km north of Toronto, the Bluff Trail in Awenda Provincial Park is a real favourite. Get lost in its lush, tree-covered trails that lead to beautiful views of the Georgian Bay coastline. While not very technical, the trail’s charm is in its accessibility and more adventurous hikers can spend the day rock hopping along the shoreline instead. The trail can be accessed from several points in the park, so you can make each visit your own.

Find more ideas in Ontario hiking books and maps

Manitoba

Hunt Lake Trail, Whiteshell Provincial Park

Day Hikes Across Canada

Recommended by: MEC staffer Tara K.
Distance: 12.6 km return
Duration: 3 hours

Following the shores of Hunt Lake and West Hawk Lake, this trail starts you out almost on the border of Ontario and travels through spectacular Canadian Shield territory. There are some amazing rock formations you can climb in the first half hour of the hike, with steep sections giving way to awesome views. Foliage is on full display here – white pines grow in this area and their roots cover the majority of the trail as you trek to Indian Bay.

Tamarack Loop of Epinette Creek Trail, Spruce Woods Park

Recommended by: MEC staffer Ken B.
Distance: 10.5km
Duration: 5 hours

Mixed grass prairie, boreal forest and sand dunes converge on this unique trail. There are cacti, the northern prairie skink, evergreen trees and rare tall-grass prairie plants along the way. The Tamarack loop can be completed in a day along with many other accessible loops, while the full Epinette Creek Trail is long enough for a multi-day trip.  Lovely scenery and yes, even hills, await.

Find more ideas in hiking books and maps for the Prairies

Alberta

Sentinel Pass, Lake Louise

Recommended by: MEC staffer Calvin Q.
Distance: 12km return
Duration: 7 hours

The Sentinel Pass trail takes you on an easy stroll through a beautiful larch forest, past famous Moraine Lake in the Valley of the Ten Peaks, as well as two other small, high alpine lakes. With rocky sections, around 700m of elevation gain and steep switchbacks in the last section – the view from the top is stunning year round. The best time to go is late September to early October when there are fewer people and the larch forest turns a brilliant orange. You can take it easy by staying in Larch Valley or make it more difficult by scrambling up the peak of Mt. Temple.

Wilcox Pass, Jasper

Day Hikes Across Canada

Recommended by: MEC staffer Kaitlyn R.
Distance: 12km return
Duration: 5 hours

Right across from the Athabasca Glacier and close to the Columbia Icefield, the weather can be touch-and-go here, with snow being a regular occurrence into June or even July. The elevation gains are quick, so it doesn’t take long to be treated to standout views in every direction. Due to the popularity of the hike, the trails have become wider and worn, so it’s important to stay on the trail to avoid damaging the surrounding area. You may be lucky enough to spot big horned sheep, too.

British Columbia

The Butte, Kimberley

Day Hikes Across Canada

Recommended by: MEC Ambassador Bruce Kirkby
Distance: 2.5km return
Duration: 1–2 hours

Known locally as “the Butte”, this short, gentle hike leads through the Nature Conservancy of Canada’s Pine Butte Ranch grasslands to a lookout atop a Lone Pine Hill. Hikers are rewarded with 360-degree off-the-charts views: the Rocky Mountains to the east, the Purcells to the west and up and down a grand stretch of the Rocky Mountain Trench, which separates the two ranges. The hike is good year round, but arguably the best time of year to go is mid-May, when blooming arnica carpet the grasslands and hillsides. The area is great for birding too, and you might even spot elk and or a badger on the plains.

 

High Creek Falls, Squamish

Day Hikes Across Canada

Recommended by: MEC Amabassador Roz Groenewoud
Distance: 12km
Duration: 5 hours

High Creek Falls can be pretty steep – small scrambles and sections with rope included – but the payoff is well worth it. Beautiful waterfall outlooks and magnificent views of the Squamish Valley are a welcome bonus to the peaceful feeling of being on a lightly developed trail. This is a best kept secret around the Vancouver area, since some of the more famous Squamish hikes feel like a highway with lots of people, but spotting another group of hikers here is unlikely; so, don’t tell too many people about it.

 

Joffre Lakes, Pemberton

Day Hikes Across Canada

Recommended by: MEC staffer Ardeen D.
Distance: 11km return
Duration: 5 hours

There are a few alpine lake hikes in BC worth noting, but none offer the quick and easy access that Joffre Lakes does. Just a few minutes from the parking lot off Duffey Lake Road you’ll reach the first of three turquoise lakes. A nice intermediate trek up into the forest and through a boulder field leads you to the middle lake, which is great for a blast of cold if you’re into a dip on a hot summer day. Only 20–30 minutes further you’re at the upper lake, enjoying glacier views as a backdrop.

Find more ideas in BC hiking books and maps

 

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