The most beautiful day hikes across Canada

Cabot trail in Cape Breton Photo by Michael L Brown/Shutterstock

The arrival of cooler temperatures across the country means perfect hiking weather, not to mention colourful, vibrant views. With solid evidence that hiking can do wonders for your mental health, there’s more reason than ever to hit the trail this season before the snow flies. Together with input from Cottage Life readers, we’ve put together a list of some fantastic day hikes from coast to coast.

Old Fort Point in Jasper, Alta.

Jasper National Park is home to some of the most intense and technically difficult hikes in Canada, but Old Fort Point is one for all levels that still packs in stunning views. Winding through the forest and opening to a panoramic view of the Athabasca Valley, this hike is a relaxed crowd-pleaser.

Green Gardens Trail near Rocky Harbour, N.L.

Located in the world-renowned Gros Morne National Park, the Green Gardens trail offers an expansive look at the features that make this park so unique. An out and back trail clocking in at about four kilometers, it’s an option to accommodate all hiking abilities.

Johnston Canyon in Banff, Alta.

This is one of the best-known hikes in Banff National Park, and for good reason. With a variety of options and lengths, plus a cafe and gift shop at the trailhead, it has something for every kind of adventurer. Follow the path along the river to see the diverse landscape within the canyon. A longer route will take you to the ink pots, a cluster of ponds nestled in a mountain valley with varying shades of blues and greens caused by mineral deposits.

Skyline Trail in Cape Breton, N.S.

Many are familiar with the driveable Cabot Trail, which you can see on foot from this beautiful, easy hike. Situated in Cape Breton Highlands National Park, which is home to an extensive trail network, Skyline is a great way to take in its gorgeous sights even if you just have one afternoon.

St. Mark’s Summit in Vancouver, B.C.

Though Vancouver is surrounded by some of the most incredible natural playgrounds, you don’t have to go far outside the city to partake. This moderate day hike can be accessed just outside the city limits and gives incredible views of the Howe Sound. At about 11 kilometers, it’s on the longer side but has ample stopping points throughout.

Rock Dunder near Kingston, Ont.

Located in Ontario’s beautiful Frontenac region, Rock Dunder gives a taste of the natural spoils this part of cottage country has to offer. After an ascent that should get your heart pumping, the summit opens to a breathtaking view of the lake and forest. You may need a day permit to access this trail, so be sure to check before you go.

Cathedral Grove in MacMillan Provincial Park, B.C.

This trail is just one section of the larger network that exists in the beautiful MacMillan Provincial Park on Vancouver Island. Cathedral Grove is one of its most famous areas; an accessible, easy walking trail where you can marvel at some of the country’s oldest stands of trees. 

Centennial Ridges Trail in Algonquin Park, Ont.

Situated in one of Ontario’s most popular parks, close to its most iconic cottage country, Centennial Ridges Trail is a long hike with varied terrain that shows off the best Algonquin Park. You can follow it as long as you like, with many open vistas that are ideal to stop at for a break.

Big Beehive in Lake Louise, Alta.

Get beyond the crowds taking photos at Lake Louise’s main vantage point and climb up this moderate, stunning hike that gives a bird’s eye view of this iconic lake and the surrounding mountains. About halfway up you’ll come across the Lake Agnes tea house, a charming wood cabin where you can buy hot drinks and baked goods to enjoy on the shores of a beautiful mountain lake.  

Wilson Carbide Ruins in Gatineau Park, Que.

Just a short drive from downtown Ottawa, Gatineau Park is a serene natural paradise for hikers, cyclists, campers and more. This easy trail brings you to a set of ruins in the forest near Meech Lake, the remnants of an old fertilizer plant owned by eccentric inventor Thomas Leopold Wilson. If the day is warm enough, you might find people taking a dip at the base of the small waterfalls.

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