Fire up your hiking boots and your daypacks, cottagers! In an effort to safely reconnect fellow Canadians, the Trans Canada Trail (TCT) has invited all 13 provinces and territories to take part in their second annual Great Canadian Hike. From September 15 to October 31, the non-profit organization that promotes and maintains the 28,000 km trail is encouraging Canadians to explore their local portions of the route with friends and family. They’d like participants to log the hours or distance that they spend hiking (or running, paddling, biking—even strolling at a leisurely pace). “We’re thrilled by the enthusiastic response we’ve seen from Canadians so far,” says Eleanor McMahon, the president and CEO of Trans Canada Trail. “In our inaugural edition of the hike last year, we had 10,000 participants, and we’re looking to meet—and exceed—that this year.”
The national goal is to collectively enjoy 28,000 hours along the trail—it stretches across the country, covering a wide variety of landscapes—and to inspire human connection to nature amidst so much screen time. “The ongoing pandemic has brought protracted levels of stress into our lives and taken a toll on our mental health,” says McMahon. “We need nature and opportunities for safe, social connection more than ever. The Great Canadian Hike and the Trans Canada Trail provide that.”
This year, TCT is giving away weekly prizes along with a grand prize to eligible participants. Weekly winners will receive one of six gifts from VIA Rail, SPOT, or Columbia Sportswear—with one lucky winner taking home a grand prize from all three brands. Registering for the Great Canadian Hike is just one way to enter the draw. Each time you refer a friend, submit a photo to the gallery, or share a photo of your journey on social media with the hashtag #GreatCanadianHike, you are automatically entered for a chance to win. “Many people have already started sharing their trail experience on social media and they’re fantastic,” says McMahon. “It’s been great to witness hike experiences through their eyes.”
To find your local trail, TCT offers a Find Your Hike function on its website. Once you enter your address or starting point, TCT provides you with the nearest trails, parking lots, access points, and points of interest along your route. The feature also gives you a rundown of the trail’s surrounding wildlife and wildflowers so you know what to look out for on your hike.
For more information on The Great Canadian Hike, visit the website’s FAQ page. “I invite everyone across the country to join in the Great Canadian Hike,” says McMahon. “Reconnect safely with your loved ones, share stories, reap the benefits of Canada’s natural wonders, and help us create a broader connection experience that transcends the borders of your local community.” In other words, hike on, hikers.