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Best Hiking Trails in Canada

Overview

The second largest country in the world (by land mass), Canada boasts some of the most beautiful mountain scenery on the planet, particularly in the western and northern parts of the country.  The provinces of Alberta and British Columbia, in particular, have hundreds of spectacular mountain hikes to embark on, such as hikes around the world famous Lake Louise and Moraine Lake in Alberta, and Garibaldi Lake and Lake O’Hara hikes in British Columbia.  The territory of Yukon also has stunning hikes such as the King’s Throne Hike in Kluane National Park.  And at the other end of the country, the province of Newfoundland has the beautiful Gros Morne National Park to explore.  The best months to hike in Canada are the summer months, with May and fall months ok in some parts.  Read on for more information on where and when to go hiking in Canada. 

Capital: Ottawa

When To Hike in Canada?

May – October: In many mountain areas, the best months are June – September.  These are the driest, warmest and most likely to be snow-free.
November – April: Cold and snowy (and this can extend to June in some areas)

Climate: Continental – warm to hot summers, and cold, snowy winters.  In British Columbia, the western slopes of the Coast Mountains receive significantly more rainfall than their more inland counterparts. Keep in mind that for many parts of Canada, late spring and early summer are bug season which can be quite an impediment to an enjoyable hike.  July, Aug and early Sept are the driest times (for the most part) but also the busiest. 

Accessibility of Hiking

Easy – Hard:  All of the national/provincial/territorial parks have good infrastructure (well-marked trails, maps, etc) but many in the north are difficult to reach, quite expensive and guides/permits required for certain places.

Transportation required: While public transit is possible for some hikes located close to cities (such as Vancouver), vehicle is required to access most hikes.

Where to stay in Canada for hiking:

  • Whistler – BC
  • Canmore – Alberta
  • Revelstoke – BC
  • Nelson – BC
  • Vancouver (city) – BC
  • Rocky Harbour – Newfoundland
  • Haines Junction – Yukon
  • Dawson City – Yukon

Most popular hikes in Canada

The western provinces (BC & Alberta) and Yukon territory are the best places to hike. In the east, Quebec, Newfoundland and Labrador are great as well, but certainly don’t have the heights of the west. Highest Mountain: Mount Logan (5959 m), in Saint Elias Mountains in Yukon. It is impossible to list all the places to hike in Canada, the map shows some of the highlights and most popular places. Read my blog to explore the best National Parks in Canada.

Filter out hiking places of Canada by month

Click on the red map pointers to see more info.

Southeast British Columbia

Okanagan Valley

  • Long and narrow valley sandwiched between Columbia and Cascade mountain ranges. 
  • Weather much more arid
  • Known for wineries and fruit growing
  • Kelowna, Penticton and Summerland are good bases
  • Okanagan Mountain Provincial Park – Okanagan Mountain Provincial Park

East of Vancouver

Sunshine Coast

Whistler and Squamish

  • North of Vancouver are the towns of Whistler and Squamish, which are adventure playgrounds year round, lots of hikes in and around these towns
  • Garibaldi Provincial Park – Garibaldi Provincial Park

Around Vancouver

Haida Gwaii Islands

Salt Spring Island

Vancouver Island

Annie Lake

  • Numerous day hikes in this area

Tombstone Territorial National Park

Kluane National Park

Northwest Territories

Nunavut

Wilmore Wilderness Park

Jasper National Park

  • North of Banff National Park; Jasper National Park
  • Many hikes, including Skyline Trek (2-4 day trek)

Banff National Park

  • World-famous national park; Banff is the town to base yourself, quite busy in the summer – Banff National Park
  • Iconic sites Lake Louise and Moraine Lake are within this park

Kananaskis Country

Waterton Lakes National Park

Gaspesie

Laurentian Mountains

Torngat Mountains National Park

Gros Morne National Park

  • The best known area for mountain hiking in Newfoundland; Gros Morne National Park
  • Many day hikes as well as the Long Range Traverse

Long Distance Trails of Canada

There are too many long distance hiking trails in Canada to list here, but a few well-known ones are listed below along with a link to a website that highlights some more:

Canada's Walking & Hiking Resources

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Canada Hiking Books: There are many books/guides covering hiking in Canada.  Divided by province/territory

BC

  • Destination Hikes: In and Around Southwestern British Columbia, by Stephen Hui, 2021, Greystone Books – https://amzn.to/3vyDxTo
  • 105 Hikes In and Around Southwestern British Columbia, by Stephen Hui, 2018, Greystone Books – https://amzn.to/3IMBCxR
  • 109 Walks in British Columbia’s Lower Mainland, by John Halliday & Alice Purdey, 2019, Greystone Books – https://amzn.to/3vnHfPP
  • The Glorious Mountains of Vancouver’s North Shore: A Peakbagger’s Guide, by David Crerar, Harry Crerar, Bill Maurer, 2018, Rocky Mountain Books – https://amzn.to/3IR2zjY
  • Mountain Footsteps: Hikes in the East Kootenay of Southeastern British Columbia, 4th Edition, by Janice Strong, 2018, Rocky Mountain Books (RMB) – https://amzn.to/43wANme
  • Hiking the Gulf Islands of British Columbia, by Charles Kahn, 2018, Harbour Publishing Company – https://amzn.to/3TC8AGe
  • Island Alpine: A Guide to the Mountains of Strathcona Park and Vancouver Island, by Philip Stone, 2014, Wild Isle Books – https://amzn.to/4a22KVt
  • Guidebooks – HikingCamping.Com – Canadian Rockies – lots of books/guides covering various areas

Alberta

  • Canadian Rockies Trail Guide, by Brian Patton and Bart Robinson, 2022, Summerthought Publishing – often referred to as ‘the Bible’, was first published in 1971 and is in its 10th edition – https://amzn.to/3x3JGHD
  • Fodor’s Canadian Rockies: with Calgary, Banff, and Jasper National Parks (Full-color Travel Guide), by Fodor’s Travel Guides, 2022, Fodor’s – https://amzn.to/3wYGHAf
  • Popular Day Hikes: Kananaskis Country, 2nd Edition, by Gillean Daffern, 2022, Rocky Mountain Books – https://amzn.to/3PwKMSN
  • Popular Day Hikes: the Castle and Crowsnest, by Andrew Nugara, 2021, Rocky Mountain Books – https://amzn.to/3INBuhh
  • Popular Day Hikes: Canadian Rockies – Revised and Updated, by Tony Daffern, 2019, Rocky Mountain Books – https://amzn.to/4cquepo
  • The David Thompson Highway Hiking Guide, 2nd Edition, by Bella George, 2024, Rocky Mountain Books – https://amzn.to/43qw5GJ
  • Popular Day Hikes: South-Central Okanagan – Kelowna, Penticton, Oliver, by Gerry Shea, 2019, Rocky Mountain Books – https://amzn.to/3TKxWCO
  • Hiking Glacier and Waterton Lakes National Parks: A Guide to the Parks’ Greatest Hiking Adventures, by Erik Molvar, 2018, Falcon Guides – https://amzn.to/4929pOd

Yukon: not many books for this region

 

Canada Hiking Associations:

 

Best Hiking Trails in Canada:

It is impossible to pick a handful of hikes as the best in Canada as the country has so many stunning hikes to choose from, but here’s a sample. You can find more details on hiking these trails in the hiking guidebooks, official hiking websites, trail maps/apps or other websites, and national/provincial park offices:

  • King’s Throne – Yukon
  • Plain of Six Glaciers – Alberta
  • Long Range Traverse – Newfoundland
  • Garibaldi Lake – British Columbia
  • Joffre Lakes – British Columbia
  • Lake O’Hara – British Columbia
  • Tent Ridge – Alberta
  • Crypt Lake – Alberta
  • Iceline Trail – British Columbia

Easy Hiking Trails in Canada:

  • Emerald Lake Loop – British Columbia
  • Lake Agnes Teahouse – Alberta
  • Kinney Lake – British Columbia

 

Canada Hiking Tours:

 

Canada Hiking Websites:

BC:

Alberta

Yukon: 

 

NWT: 

 

Quebec

 

Canada Weather websites:

 

Canada Official Tourism Site:  

 

Canada Hiking Apps: 

 

Canada Hiking Maps: 

What Else To Do

  • Skiing in the winter
  • Other outdoor pursuits (mountain biking, cycling)
  • Festivals

Other Important Points

  • Much of Canada is wild and there are more wildlife than people in many parts – learn about bear safety and protecting yourself from wild animals
  • Learn about avalanche safety