Happy trails

Our top five hiking routes across Canada combine great walks and phenomenal scenery

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Bored with the same old around-the-block routine? Take a real break by visiting one of Canada’s many scenic trails. They’re calm-inducing and awe-inspiring; you might even forget you’re working out. Here are our picks for the best five in the country:

1. The Lake O’Hara Circuit, Yoho Nationa Park, B.C.

“Just the mention of Lake O’Hara makes die-hard hikers misty-eyed,” says Gene Shannon, editor of the Frommer’s Best Hiking Trips series. Located in the Rocky Mountains, this 10.1 km trail is a Canadian classic. Thousands of people have been captivated by the site’s lush forests and crystal clear water, including Group of Seven member Lawren Harris, who painted the circuit. Only 42 hikers are allowed on the trail a day, so plan in advance and book early.

2. The East Coast Trail, Newfoundland
If you’re in St. John’s, hiking this trail is a must. The 220 km path follows Canada’s coastline south from St. John’s to the Avalon peninsula. The best part, says Shannon, is the 16 km stretch north of Bay Bulls. “It hugs the water’s edge while taking you past sea stacks to a geyser that spits water nearly 200 feet in the air,” he says.

3. Pink Lake Trail, Gatineau Quebec
At 2.5 km, this hike suits walkers at all levels. The trail sits in Gatineau Park — just minutes from downtown Ottawa. Shannon says it’s best to walk it in fall when the trees change colour “against a backdrop of dark green furs.” Don’t be disappointed when you find a green lake instead of a pink one — the name derives from the Pink family who, in 1826, settled near this gorgeous body of water.

4. Parker Ridge Trail, Banff National Park

Another Rocky Mountain beauty can be found just outside of Banff, at Parker Ridge Trail. The path, part of the Columbia Icefield in the Rockies, it’s a 5 km hike, which may sound easy, but it includes a 250 m walk up a mountain. However, seeing the stunning glaciers is well worth the sweat.

5. Angel’s Point Trail, Restoule Provincial Park

This trail is deep in Toronto cottage country, only four hours north of the city and a short drive from the shores of Lake Nipissing. The granite bluffs are the main attraction, but be on the lookout for the heron colonies, white-tailed deer and coyotes. And when you’re done wandering, grab a canoe and paddle around Restoule Lake.