You need an infinitely bigger bucket or list after adding these full-day adventures from our diverse land. All can be conquered in a very long one day run/hike or stretched out over several days of fastpacking (or traditional hiking).
From the coast of Vancouver Island to the highest point of Cape Breton Island, these trail expeditions are guaranteed to impress – and we’ve included some gear tips to get you started.
La Cloche Silhouette Trail, Killarney, Ontario.
Details: 78 km, 2,590 vertical meters up/down
La Cloche silhouette trail is a 78km run/hike loop over and through the rugged quartzite peaks of the La Cloche mountain range in Killarney Provincial Park, Ontario. The path is named after group of seven painter Franklin Carmichael‘s masterpiece, La Cloche silhouette. Expect wildlife: black bears, moose, deer, snakes, turtles, beavers and more. Note that the trail is almost a loop, but is actually a point-to-point route between the east and west trailheads on either side of George Lake.
Athlete from Calgary Ethan Frank ran the path from west to east in September 2021. Frank describes the landscape as “beautiful and unforgiving”, with La Cloche’s “characteristic mix of granite slab and deep forest”.
Frank adds, “There are sudden and unrelenting transitions between steep climbs and descents on generally very rocky, rooted singletrack, and the mental focus required to move quickly on such terrain proved to be the real crux of the day.” Would he do it again? “One hundred percent,” he says. If you do this in a single burst, count on a day of 15 hours or more.
The gear you want: flight gloves
These waterproof gloves are designed to protect you from the wind and keep your precious fingers warm and dry while still allowing plenty of movement. Worn over thin knit gloves on cooler days, they wick sweat and allow you to use your touchscreen to capture the best moments on the trail.
Juan de Fuca Marine Trail, Vancouver Island, BC
distance/height: 47 km, 1,828 vertical meters up/down
That Sea path Juan de Fuca is a rugged 47km journey filled with breathtaking sea views, ankle-crushing rock scrambles and a continuously hilly path (I noticed only one flat section of the path – prepare for a lot of ascent and descent). Located in the Juan de Fuca Provincial Park on the southwest coast of vancouver island, The trail stretches from China Beach (35 km west of sooke) to Botanical Beach (just outside Port Renfrew), and runners or hikers can park on one side of the route and catch the bus back on the other; I took a bus from Victoria to Port Renfrew to start my trek.
panoramic view of the coast, Juan de Fuca Street and the Olympic mountains can be seen from many points along this rainforest trail. It’s not uncommon to see sea lions, bald eagles, herons and other wildlife (I saw a black bear, along with lots of sea lions and eagles). Like most West Coast trails, this one is in the rainforest and can be very muddy. If you’re up for a bigger adventure, you can connect the Juan de Fuca Trail to the West Coast Trail (you have to do the WCT first because of reservation requirements), and I met a couple of trekkers who had started the WCT and then because of the sheer beauty of it continued.
While you can walk this trail in a day, the panoramic views, wildlife, and lonely beauty of this hike will make you plan a return trip to enjoy the sights at a slower pace. Unlike the longer ones West Coast Trail (75 km) no reservation required for the Juan de Fuca hiking trail; However, there is an upstate camping fee of $10 per person per night.
The gear you want: Flight Lightriser FUTURELIGHT™ Jacket
This waterproof, breathable jacket is perfect for long runs in the rain. Inner pocket tucks into itself for easy packing; The minimalist design allows you to slip it in your vest or pocket and forget it’s there.
Chic Chocs Trail, Quebec
Distance: 56-96km depending on the route, approx 4,547 vertical meters win/loss
The Chic-chocs Trail is a 60-mile point-to-point trail located near Rivière-Bonjour, Que., in Gaspésie National Park. Generally considered a difficult route, you have a variety of well-charted options for running sections of the trail or tackling it overnight quickly if running it all at once seems too much for you. The park suggests hikers allow 32 hours of exercise to complete the entire trail. Reservations must be made at least 72 hours in advance if you wish to stay overnight en route. Transportation is always provided one-way (east to west) from the Discovery and Visitor Center (Mont-Albert section) to Mount Logan.
TNF Ultrarunner from Montreal Anne Bouchard says she loves this trail. “Especially others, that is my favourite. The most beautiful mountains in Quebec. It’s actually a section of the International Appalachian Trail (IAT/SIA) that covers most of the Gaspésie region. It’s possible to do it in sections or in its entirety.” Bouchard, who holds FKT on the 650km SIA Trail, says this area is a part of Canadian history that everyone should see. She adds that parts of it “are very special in winter, with breathtaking views of huge pine trees covered in snow”.
The gear you want: Flight VECTIV™ x Elvira shoes
These lightweight, responsive trail shoes are made for exploring deeper into the wilderness. Durable enough to keep you grounded as you run on various trail systems, these shoes let you cross streams, climb mountains and fly down hills. The reinforced toe cap protects your feet in rough terrain.
Rockwall Trail, Kootenays, BC
details: 56 km, 2,438 meters in altitude
That Rockwall Trail is a 35-mile trail in Kootenay National Park, on a section of the much longer Great Divide Trail. The running track is usually from Floe Lake Trailhead to Paint Pots Trailhead and is sometimes completed as a three to four day hike. Renowned ultra runner Ailsa McDonald says Rockwall is a favorite. “I’ve done it both ways and prefer to start at Floe Lake and walk to Paint Pots. It’s a much nicer and easier run or hike. It’s all downhill for the last few miles whichever way you go, but it’s a much more technical descent when you come off Floe Lake.”
MacDonald adds that the trail is easy to navigate and the views are spectacular. “Apart from Floe Lake to the parking lot, the trail is pretty well groomed, just a lot of elevation gain. There’s always people driving from one parking lot to another, so there’s no need to drive by – it’s easy to follow if you’re comfortable with it,” says MacDonald. This is a popular section of the trail year-round, but it’s definitely bear country too, so be vigilant and carry bear spray.
The gear you want: Flight Race Day vest 8
This vest is ideal for long days running. It’s lightweight and sweat-wicking, yet durable enough to carry all your essentials. You’ll be surprised at how much you can take with you and grateful when you pull out that much-needed snack.
Skyline Trail, Cape Breton Island, NS
Details: 6.5 km return; 8.2km loop/290-405m elevation gain/loss
This is by far the shortest route on our list, but it’s arguably the most important and certainly the most accessible. Set off at sunrise or sunset for an indescribable experience. This is an easy trail, part boardwalk – but even the most FKT-obsessed ultra-endurance athlete will be struck by its beauty and respect for the vastness of Canada on this quick outing. At the end of the trail, a dramatic headland overlooks the rugged coastline. Enjoy an eagle’s-eye view of the Cabot Trail as it winds its way down the mountain. Look out for whales in the Gulf of St. Lawrence from the viewing platforms, and look out for moose and bald eagles.
I’ve been fortunate enough to run in different countries and race in amazing places and this fast run was still the highlight of the past few years. I timed my arrival at the parking lot for sunrise and was all alone at the trailhead. It was an hour I cannot repeat or forget – and it made me want to explore more of this vast country. Located at the highest point of the Cabot Trail, Skyline was a short drive from the city of Inverness.
The gear you want: Packable jacket from First Dawn
Pull out this waterproof, breathable shell for those pre-dawn miles and brave the sea breeze. When it gets warm, tuck it into your vest or even a pocket: it packs next to nothing.
Presented by The North Face