Multi-day backpacking trips take time to put together.
Planning is key. In fact, if you have dreams of spending a week under the stars, carrying everything you need on your back as you trek one of Canada’s most epic trails.
We’re here to help you. For starters, you need a route. Scroll down and choose one of these 10 epic multi-day trips. Some are an overnight, some are a week. (Some, even longer!)
West Coast Trail
Pacific Rim National Park, British Columbia
It’s 75 kilometres of mud, sweat and maybe even some tears. It’s also 75 kilometres of vast sand beaches, towering old-growth evergreens, raging rivers, fairy-tale-esque waterfalls and whale and wolf sightings. Welcome to the West Coast Trail—running through Pacific Rim National Park Reserve on Vancouver Island’s remote west coast, this is one of Canada’s most iconic backpacking trips. Expect to take five to seven days to complete this challenge—or half that via the new midway entry/exit point at Nitinat.
Sunshine Coast Trail
Powell River, British Columbia
There are easy routes on Powell River’s Sunshine Coast Trail and there are tough routes. But they’re all amazing—this is one of the best hiking trails in Canada. Officially, it is Canada’s lengthiest hut-to-hut hiking trail and also the only free one. It’s 180-kilometres long, but it’s almost always done in segments—some as short as an hour or two, some for several days with stout climbs into the gorgeous alpine. For a primer, try the two-day Mount Troubridge section, or maybe Sarah Point to Powell Lake. Even a day-walk to Rieveley’s Pond is worthwhile.
Berg Lake Trail
Mount Robson Provincial Park, British Columbia
Located in Mount Robson Provincial Park, near the BC/Alberta border, 23-kilometre Berg Lake Trail is like a highlight reel for the Rocky Mountains. Under the shadow of 3,959-metre Mount Robson—the high point for the Canadian Rockies—you’ll wander past emerald-coloured Kinney Lake and near thundering Emperor Falls, entranced by dramatic mountain vistas throughout. Some lucky trekkers may even catch a glimpse of giant chunks of ice calving from the Mist, Berg and Robson glaciers.
Running between Skagway, Alaska and Bennet, British Columbia, the Chilkoot Trail is a challenging 53-kilometre backpacking route that traces paths taken by Gold Rush prospectors more than a century ago. Expect steep climbs, rapidly changing weather—including a chance of snow any time of year—and a remote wilderness setting. Also expect vast alpine vistas, beautiful lakes, fascinating history and the lifelong boost of an extreme challenge bested.
Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta
The Tamarack Trail is perhaps the best multi-day hike in Waterton Lakes National Park—aim to trek it in September, when its namesake trees (also known as larches) are in full fall vibrancy, occasional dusts of snow decorate the peaks and daytime temps are comfortable without being too hot. For two to three days, you’ll wander into the alpine, through meadows, over ridgelines and atop stunning mountain and lake vistas. As a linear route, you’ll need to book passage on the Tamarack Trail Shuttle for the return trip to your car.
Jasper National Park, Alberta
The Skyline Trail is Jasper’s signature backpacking route—a 44-kilometre-long scenic wonderland that meanders above the treeline for more than half of its distance. It is home to woodland caribou, grizzly bears and grey wolves. While some intrepid folk have steamed through Skyline Trail in a day, most spend more time in this high-elevation (2,510 metres maximum) environment to truly appreciate its beauty. The trailhead is at Maligne Lake; as a linear route, you’ll need to arrange shuttle transport.
Meadow Lake Provincial Park, Saskatchewan
Officially opened six years ago, the 120-kilometre Boreal Trail is Saskatchewan Parks’ only officially designated backpacking trail. Meandering through lush Meadow Lake Provincial Park, a 1,600-square-kilometre beauty in the province’s northwest, hikers often choose to embark on a multi-day tour of this east-west route. Spend days beneath poplar, jack pine and spruce trees and fall asleep to a loon’s call at one of the plentiful back- and front-country campsites—or tackle it in smaller stages for easy day-hikes. Terrain is gentle with minimal elevation gains; the challenge comes in the distance.
Grey Owl’s Cabin
Prince Albert National Park, Saskatchewan
If you’d like to pay homage to Grey Owl, take a hike to his cabin in Prince Albert National Park. Accessed via Kingsmere Road, near the town of Waskesiu, intrepid hikers can make their way to this cabin and burial site on the shores of Ajawaan Lake. The route follows the eastern shoreline of Kingsmere Lake, and has three campsites en route plus one at either end. This is all-backcountry—though bear caches, firewood and pit-toilets are available at the campsites. The path is typical boreal terrain and should take less than six hours each way. For a quicker way to find the cabin, a three-hour paddle across Kingsmere Lake, plus a 600-metre portage to Ajawaan Lake, bypasses the hiking route.
Whiteshell Provincial Park, Manitoba
Whether you choose to tackle the three- or four-day end-to-end route of Manitoba’s classic backpacking route or knock-off a day-trip segment, the 66-kilometre Mantario Trail delivers a hard-hiking challenge only two-and-a-half hours’ drive east of Winnipeg. Expect heaving Precambrian Shield terrain, granite cliffs, beaver dams, fallen timber, peat bogs, steep gullies, jack pines and maple trees. There are 10 primitive campsites along the route, with fire pits and food storage boxes and, maybe, a picnic table or two. The trail is well-marked, and water can be accessed at many points throughout. Parking is at the north and south trailhead—keep in mind this is not a loop, you’ll have to arrange return transport.
Coastal Hiking Trail
Pukaskwa National Park, Ontario
Set in Ontario’s largest national park—Pukaskwa—the Coastal Hiking Trail traces the wildest shore on all the Great Lakes for 60 memorable kilometres. Follow rock cairns along empty pebble beaches, meander through serene woodland, scramble over steep shoreline rocks and marvel at expansive views of Lake Superior. Well maintained and updated, there are campsites and suspension bridges along the route—though you will need to be self-sufficient and may ford some creeks. A one-way hike, travellers boat to North Swallow and hike out for 10 days to the trailhead.