For every place you visit in Canada, you'll likely hear about two more destinations worthy of exploring. Backpacking in Canada is a dream for international adventure seekers visiting North America.
From the Canadian Rockies to the coast, all you need is a backpack and a thirst for wonder to experience all the Canadian outdoors have to offer.
It was a tough call, but we've narrowed down seven unique spots that will make your trip to Canada complete.
Canada's Best Trails
1. West Coast Trail, British Columbia
Located inside the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, this trail single-handedly gives Canada its reputation as a backpacker's paradise.
It's 47 miles (75 kilometers) of nothing but scenic vistas, thrilling obstacles, and plenty of one-on-one time with nature. This makes it the best way to see Canada's natural beauty.
Despite its beauty and reputation, this trail isn't for the faint of heart.
Backpack-laden hikers can expect to climb ladders, trudge through mud, cross chilly waters, and battle the elements over three to five days of strenuous trekking. Conquer this trail and earn bragging rights for life.
2. Tonquin Trail, British Columbia
While you're in BC, you'll want to experience the shorter yet ever scenic Tonquin Trail. The total length clocks in under 1.9 miles (3 kilometers) and takes you directly to Tonquin Beach and views of Vancouver Island.
Though it's a short distance, the hike isn't exactly easy. There are a few steep passes and stairs that travelers must conquer, which can take a long time. The views at the end are well worth the effort.
It's the perfect distance for a short day hike that leaves you time to experience other natural wonders in British Columbia.
3. Bruce Trail, Ontario
The Bruce Trail spans over 553 miles (890 kilometers) and takes a full 30 days or longer to complete end to end. This multi-day challenge is the ultimate backpacking adventure for international backpackers.
The trail is divided into nine smaller sections that make tackling a shorter backpacking trip easy without sacrificing the thrill of traveling on Bruce Trail.
This trail is fun, with unique challenges and the potential to earn badges for completing specific tasks or sections.
4. Skoki Lodge, Alberta
The hike to Skoki Lodge in Banff National Park is truly one for the books. International travelers will get an authentic taste of the Canadian wilderness as they travel to this remote lodge only accessible by foot.
Start your journey at Lake Louise Ski Area, where you can check into the lodge and catch a van to the trailhead.
From there, just seven miles stand between you and a stay at the scenic backcountry lodge, which is a great place to unwind after a tiring day.
It's a good reason to brave the elements in one of the best places to see pristine undisturbed scenery.
But remember: Skoki Lodge can be expensive, with prices starting at 240 Canadian dollars per person per night. When visiting sites like this, it can be cheaper to stay in a hostel or dorm room in a small town and make a day trip out.
Related: 9 Must-See Canadian National Parks
5. The Rockwall Trail, British Columbia
Located inside the Kootenay National Park, this hike through the Rocky Mountains is one of the most challenging hikes in Canada.
Named for its iconic rock wall, this 33-mile (54-kilometer) trail is chock full of the natural elements and wildlife that adventure seekers expect.
Waterfalls, creeks, lakes, and glaciers are in abundance along this trail. It's one of the most beautiful places in the country—the perfect place to spend a lot of time in the wild with a loved one.
It's home to grizzly bears, black bears, mountain goats, and other wildlife, especially since the massive fire of 2003 has reshaped the land and ecology of the area.
We advise coming in the warmer months if you're interested in the wildlife. We recommend bringing a warm sleeping bag, as the nights can get pretty cold!
Many hiking guides recommend starting at the Paint Pots trailhead and heading south to the Floe Lake trailhead. The hike spans three to four days and offers several campsites with panoramic views.
When you're done, celebrate with a caesar drink, a uniquely Canadian mixed drink.
For more breathtaking walks in the Rockies, we recommend exploring Jasper National Park, another of Canada's stunning provincial parks.
6. East Coast Trail, Labrador, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland
Canada's East Coast has views as stunning as its West Coast counterpart. The East Coast Trail comprises 26 smaller paths that combine some of Canada's beautiful wilderness with charming, historic towns.
The trail is one of the most scenic in the country, taking travelers along cliffs and flatlands, past fjords, and the iconic geyser called The Spout.
Lighthouses, icebergs, bridges, historical sites, and whale sightings are familiar scenes along this thoroughfare.
Taking a guided hike is perfect for international backpackers. You'll see all the best sights of the trail and get an insider's perspective.
7. Chilkoot Trail, Yukon
Tucked inside the Klondike Gold Rush National Park, this 33-mile (54-kilometer) trail spans two countries and is steeped in over 150 years of history.
Over 10,000 hikers, runners, and backpackers can be found on the trail each day, making it one of the most popular trails on Canada's West Coast. There are even ski resorts for the colder months.
This former gold rush thoroughfare is still dotted with remnants of the old gold craze, touted as the world's longest history museum.
The trail offers nine campgrounds and takes three to five days to fully traverse. The trailhead is about 10 miles (16 kilometers) outside of Skagway, and you can purchase a shuttle service to take you there.
From June through the first week of September, you'll need a permit to stay on the trail overnight, even if you're not crossing into the U.S. Be warned: it can get pretty busy in peak season.
Bonus Travel Tip for Backpacking in Canada
Even careful planning and packing aren't enough to prevent medical emergencies, trip delays, or travel interruptions.
It's in your interest to weigh the best travel insurance options to protect every step of your journey and maximize your experience, especially if you're traversing some of these longer and more challenging trails.
At the end of the day, though, you're sure to have a great time here in the second largest country in the world, whether you're coming in the summer months or not.
The only question left is which backpacking trail in Canada will you explore first?
This story was brought to you in partnership with Best Quote Travel Insurance.
Bob Hornal is the founder and President of Best Quote Travel Insurance in Vancouver, British Colombia, Canada. With over 15 years of experience as a financial advisor, Bob has traveled to more than 30 incredible countries and has dealt with a multitude of difficult situations including flight delays, medical emergencies, and weather damage, making Bob an expert at traveling.
His dream is to inspire and inform those who wish to travel by including his personal experiences and professional knowledge in each piece he writes.
Planning a trip? Go Backpacking recommends:
- G Adventures for small group tours.
- World Nomads for travel insurance.
- Hostelworld for booking hostels.
- Rail Europe for train passes.
Friday 8th of February 2019
I really love adventures. And, this post is for adventurers. Great piece of information. To make my trips in budget I prefer to book my tickets on Flight desk India. They always provides cheap air tickets even at last minute.
Tuesday 15th of January 2019
I read your post and it gives me a glimpse of Canada. Would love to visit that continent one day.
I have a great passion on wildlife and culutures, so according to you, where is the best spot from me to visit in that such a huge and wonderful continent?
Greeting from Madagascar