There’s no healthier or more enjoyable way to discover a place than by setting out on your own two feet. Walking lets you observe architecture and landscapes that you’d certainly miss if you zipped by in a car. Even at a brisk pace, it’s easy to soak in the details of street life and fully enjoy the lush greenery of beautiful park settings. Here are four Canadian walking trails worth exploring.
For the ultimate in mountaintop vistas, head for the Tunnel Mountain trail in Banff, AB. The wide and well-groomed four-seasons trail requires just a moderate effort â€“ switchbacks ease the vertical gain â€“ though it gets somewhat steeper near the summit ridge. Spectacular views of the town and adjacent mountains open up near the top. Douglas firs provide shade on hot summer days for walkers and the many mule deer in the area. The 3.6 km return trip begins on Tunnel Mountain Dr., just north of The Banff Centre. If you’re still feeling energetic at the top, take time to explore the grassy meadow down the east side of the summit.
Torontonians and in-the-know visitors have a deep affection for the quiet beauty of Toronto Island. A 20-minute ferry trip ($6 return) whisks you away from the buzz of downtown to the car-free crescent-shaped group of small islands that are all linked by tiny bridges. Take the ferry to Hanlon’s Point, the most westerly point, and then follow the winding walking path along the water enjoying the century-old trees and 230 hectares of pristine parkland. Within an hour you’ll see boats at anchor, a Frisbee golf course, a sweet children’s amusement park, tiny quaint homes and breathtaking views across Lake Ontario. Enjoy lunch or dinner at the restaurant in the former church rectory at the east end before walking five minutes to the Ward’s Island ferry and heading back to the big city.
Canada’s smallest province was the first to complete its section of the Trans Canada Trail called the Confederation Trail. Created on 400 kilometres of reclaimed railway lines, the groomed trail takes walkers into wetlands, rich farmland and hardwood groves, winding through picturesque villages and along sparkling rivers. As it passes through villages and towns, there are plenty of opportunities to shop, have a snack and dine out. Walkers who cover any section of the trail (it’s divided into over 30 sections of varying lengths) earn an achievement certificate available from any provincial Visitor Information Centre.
Proud residents of St. John’s call their Grand Concourse Walkways the finest walking system in Canada. Its 120 kilometers of networked trails link every major park, river, pond and green space in the municipalities of St. John’s, Mount Pearl and Paradise. The Walkways, part of Newfoundland’s 883-kilometre rails-to-trails T’Railway System, lets walkers and cyclists enjoy parkland, lakes, educational storyboards, rest areas and playgrounds along the way. The system is linked to public transit providing an easy way back to your start point.