Trans Canada trail

A network of recreational multi-use trails that stretches across the country and through many of it’s most densely populated urban areas is nearing completion. The Great Trail, also known as the Trans Canada Trail, is currently 20,770-km long and 87 per cent connected. The trail is car free and designed to be a destination for Canadians to enjoy the great outdoors and appreciate the beauty the country has to offer. With such a vast expanse of trails, it seems like a cyclists paradise. However, in its current state don’t start planning your cross-Canada two-wheeled trek along it just yet.

Petit Train du Nord
Photo: The Great Trail

Completion of the trail is planned for 2017 for the 150th anniversary of Canadian Confederation with construction having begun in 1992. The parts of the trail that pass through many of Canada’s most densely populated urban areas provides an escape of cyclists living in the city. Four out of five Canadians live within 30 minutes of it.

Though the trail passes through the countries biggest cities, the parts of the trail that have yet to be completed are vital connection points in remote areas of the country. Over 3,200-km still need to be completed before that cross country cycling trip becomes a reality and according to the trails website, these sections pass through unpopulated and remote areas with rugged terrain.

Banff the great trail
Photo: The Great Trail

The trail is not a single homogeneous unit either, instead being a patchwork of municipal, local, provincial and national trail networks joined together. In many places the trail is maintained by volunteers. The Trans Canada Trail organization does not-in-fact own or operate any part of the network.

The Great Trail
Photo: The Great Trail

During the summer months cycling, hiking and walking, horseback riding are all possible along many stretches of the trail but not all. The trail is not fully paved either with many sections being gravel and perhaps to rugged for most cyclists. Look closely at the interactive map and you will also see that other sections of the trail traverse bodies of water and waterways meaning kayaking and canoeing are also activities that can be enjoyed along its vast expanse. The many parts that require aquatic transportation make the prospect of the whole trail a difficult prospect for cyclists. During the winter the trail can be used by snowmobilers and cross-country skiers. It also should be noted that the trail by no means takes the most direct route across the country instead zig-zagging in and out of urban areas.

To help facilitate the completion of the trail, hopefully in time for Canada’s 150th anniversary, the Government of Canada is currently matching 50 cents for every dollar donated to the Trans Canada Trail.

Once completed, the network will pass through all of Canada’s provinces and territories. Intended to promote active living and a healthy lifestyle the trail will also encourage active transportation. Its presence can hopefully stimulate tourism and economic development while giving Canadians a means to visit more parts of the country. The trail is also intended to benefit Canadians by deepening awareness of Canada’s history, culture, natural heritage, and preserve green spaces and promote conservation.  The province that will be home to the longest section of the trail once it has been connected is Ontario.

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  • Jacques Dery says:

    The fact the Canadian Trail skips the Gaspé Peninsula is mind boggling!

  • Nils Pedersen says:

    That’s a lot of kilometers. Is it a network of trails that crosses all over. Coast to coast would be a lot less.

  • Lydia Ducharme says:

    Wow! Didn’t realize it was so close to completion. Woo Hoo! We cycled coast to coast in 2010 (6700 km in 69 days not including breaks, averaging 100km/day on asphalt). Any hard core cyclists out there?

    • Chris says:

      Don’t worry it’s not as good as they say it is. Where I live all it is, a bunch of gravel roads with posts calling it a trail. An it’s about 5/10 km south is any town. Nobody uses it because its bs

  • Trevor says:

    Really? No positive feedback on this initiative? This is an amazing initiative deserves applause. Canada has a lot to offer the adventurous. This trail system will enable tourism and economic growth in the communities through which it travels. Hats off to all those who made it happen!

    • Tosca Poort says:

      I agree Trevor! I’m a Dutch woman who is planning to cycle this trail, or at least a part of it, when it is ready! It is a beautiful way to explore Canada! So from me, a big applause! 😂

      • gino claes says:

        Beste Mevr. Poort,
        Ik las jou commentaar dd 22/09/16.
        Heb je ondertussen jou plan om de trail te fietsen al volbracht.
        Wij zijn van plan om volgend jaar in de zomer drie maanden van Toronto tot in St John’s, New Foundland te fietsen. Hebt U hierover enige info die voor ons nuttig zou kunnen zijn?
        Met vriendelijke groeten,
        Gino Claes
        Kontich, Belgie

  • moyra says:

    the fact that they are using lake superior as a part of the route is a cheap cop out.

  • Emily T says:

    Oh boy, I can’t wait to take my kids on the 4.5km stretch of the “trail” that’s on the shoulder of the 1A highway just to the west of Calgary and then cross all 4 lanes of the highway where there are no lights, no crosswalk or any means for people to get across safely. People in cars get killed on that highway – how can we expect families to be able to traverse it on bikes?
    It’s really a shame; I’d love to, as a day trip, bike to Glenbow Ranch or Cochrane and back but I won’t be doing that until it’s much, much, safer.

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