The Maple Trail: 13 Hikes to do in Canada this Summer

person_outline Sophie Grove
Apr 9, 2019

folder_open Global Recommends...

timer 14 min read

Canada has got a lot to be proud of. It’s the land of Caesars, the maple leaf and national parks galore. Some of their parks are so gigantic they have more surface area than some small countries (Denmark & Switzerland - we’re talking to you).

As we roll into summer, the snow begins to melt, and all the ski resorts go into hibernation. The lakes turn into every shade of blue imaginable, the wildlife comes out to play, and the forests stretch evergreen in every direction. The sun comes out, and the spectacular trails come to life.

If it’s an epic outdoor adventure you’re craving, then summertime in the Great White North is the perfect opportunity to dust off your boots, get outside and explore the beauty of the maple trails.

Since it's (almost) impossible to do them all, here are our absolute must-dos:

The West Coast Trail, Vancouver Island

  • Distance: 75 km
  • Time needed: 5-7 day
  • Level of difficulty: Advanced

This is the holy grail of hiking. Not for the faint of heart, Vancouver Island’s West Coast Trail is arguably the most iconic of all. The trek was originally carved out to help shipwreck survivors escape from the wilderness. Today, use it as an escape into the wilderness.

The tougher, more experienced adventurers will be rewarded for their perseverance with waterfalls, caves, beach-camping, whale-spotting, and pretty much everything there is. This rugged 75-kilometre path weaves through deserted beaches of the Pacific ocean, lush rainforest, caves and offers epic views of the Pacific ocean.

Stawamus Trail, Squamish

  • Distance: 4 - 7 km
  • Time Needed: 2 - 6 hours
  • Level of difficulty: Intermediate

Known to the locals as just ‘the Chief’, it’s located in Stawamus Chief Provincial Park. It is actually one of North America’s largest granite monoliths and looms 700m over Squamish, so as you can imagine, it offers pretty spectacular views from the top. There are three peaks to conquer, the South (Peak 1), the Centre (Peak 2), and the North (Peak 3) all varying in difficulty.

But, there are chains, ladders and steps for some of the more technical parts of the trail to assist you getting to the top, as well as well-marked signs that point to each peak along the way. Hikers can do each summit individually, or, if you have about six hours and lots of energy, you can tackle all three in one day.

Black Tusk Trail, Whistler

  • Distance: 27 km (round trip)
  • Time Needed: 9 - 12 hours
  • Level of difficulty: Advanced

Named for the distinctive way that it looks like a gigantic tusk plunging out of the earth, The Black Tusk is Garibaldi Provincial Parks' most prominent peak and the remnants of a dormant volcano that’s eroded over time. The closer you get, the more impossible it looks to climb, but we promise it's worth it.

The first 7 km is the same as the hike to Panorama Ridge. But once you're through the Taylor Meadows campground, you quickly leave all trees behind you as you begin to scale the enormous black spire of crumbling rock. A steady uphill battle begins and you’ll soon be able to spot the beautiful Coast Mountains, with the huge Sphinx Glacier sitting on top in the distance.f

Top tip: We don't recommend climbing past the end of the official trail - Some people climb to the very top of the tusk; however, the loose rock and difficult climbing make it pretty dangerous.

Panorama Ridge Hike, Whistler

  • Distance: 30.9 km
  • Time Needed: 9 - 12 hours
  • Level of difficulty: Advanced

Let’s just say it’s called Panorama Ridge for a freaking good reason - the uninterrupted 360 views from the summit are the most jaw-dropping of all time. First, it will bring you through the lush forests to blooming meadows filled with wildflowers and spectacular views of Helm Lake. From then on it’s a bit of an aerobic experience to get to the top. But once you've made it to the other side, you can see the beautiful, turquoise Garibaldi Lake, Clinker Peak and Mount Price. Keep in mind that this is an advanced hike and a long day trail, best done over two days.

Top tip: There are camping spots along the way at Garibaldi Lake and Taylor Meadows.

Joffre Lakes, near Pemberton

  • Distance: 11.8 km
  • Time Needed: 4 - 6 hours
  • Level of difficulty: Intermediate

It’s a #nofilter phenomenon. You might have already drooled over these incredible glacier-fed lakes in someone else's social feed, but there is nothing quite like experiencing the green-blue hues for yourself. Located in the Joffre Lakes Park, there are actually three different lakes to soak in: Lower, Middle and Upper.

You can find the first Lower Joffre Lake within minutes. The middle lake boasts the “Selfie log”, a suitably named popular spot for photos, and then the most stunning views have been saved for Upper Joffre Lake with its beautiful backdrop of the magnificent Matier Glacier and Joffre Peak. Many hikers venture up with towels and swimmers to brave a dip in the freezing waters. So, if you choose to go for a dip, bring plenty of warm clothes for after.

Top tip: If you want to make a trip of it you can pitch a tent at one of the 26 campsites located on the shores of the Upper Lake.

Sulphur Skyline Trail, Jasper

  • Distance: 10 km
  • Time Needed: 4-6 hours
  • Level of difficulty: Moderate/Hard

We love Jasper for the fact that it offers the beauty of Banff, but without the crowds. Although it's open year round, the scenery is at its most spectacular in summer. Its local residents include grizzly bears, moose and elk (just to name a few of the friendly faces you may see - from an exceptionally safe distance!).

There are a lot of great hiking trails in Jasper National Park, but when it comes to the very best day hikes, this bad boy offers the biggest bang. Serious hikers will adore the Sulphur Skyline Trail in the heart of Jasper National Park. It’s one of the most popular trails in the country and tends to be one of the first snow-free alpine hikes once late May hits.

Lake Agnes Tea House Trail, Banff

  • Distance: 7 km
  • Time needed: 3 - 4 hours
  • Level of difficulty: Easy

This hike is one of the most popular in all of Banff. With good reason! As if you could resist a hike that ends with the option of sipping tea after a moderate trek through the lush forest? Starting at the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel, the path stretches nearly 7 km towards Lake Agnes. And, surprise, it ends at a historic tea house. Have a big cuppa and some fresh apple crumble at the teahouse (named after Lady Susan Agnes Macdonald - the wife of the first prime minister of Canada) before continuing your hike to the far end of Lake Agnes. 

There are two trails from here worth a look:

Little Beehive

The distance from here is just under 1 km and since most people don’t go beyond the tea house, you will leave the crowds behind. From the Little Beehive summit, you will get more spectacular views looking down at Lake Agnes and Lake Louise, as well as the surrounding glacier covered mountains.

Big Beehive

The distance from Lake Agnes to the summit of the Big Beehive is 1.6km & we'd allow approximately 40 minutes each way. The views down to Lake Louise below and over the Bow Valley are absolutely stunning!

Plain of Six Glaciers Trail, Banff

  • Distance: 15.1 km
  • Time Needed: 4-6 hours
  • Level of difficulty: Moderate

It’s not a complete secret, but there are actually two trails you can choose from around Lake Louise, and not many know about this little gem! It’s a longer but very rewarding hike. The trail to the Plain of Six Glaciers Tea House begins at Lake Louise and takes you up close to the heart of Mount Lefroy, Mount Victoria and the Victoria Glacier. Not only will you get incredible views, the opportunity to wildlife spot but also the option of a cup of hot tea at the end.

Lion's Head Loop Via Bruce Trail, Ontario

  • Distance: 15 km
  • Time Needed: 4.5 hours
  • Level of difficulty: Moderate

The Bruce Trail is Canada's oldest and longest marked footpath and a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve. Although the trail winds through 900 km of beautiful landscapes, the best spots can be found along the Bruce Peninsula. Lion’s Head is a peaceful port village and a section of the trek boasts limestone cliffs that soar above the turquoise Caribbean-coloured waters of Georgian Bay (resembling a lion’s head from the bay). The Lion’s Head Trail has two loops – the main trail and inland trail for a total of about 18-kilometres. The trails are marked with blue and white blazes.

Top tip: Bring your swimmers too so can go for a dip once you reach the Rock Beach!

Moraine Lake Shoreline / Rock Pile, Banff

  • Distance: 3 km (round trip)
  • Time needed: 1 hour
  • Level of difficulty: Easy

You may recognise this impressive scene from that Canadian $20 bill, or perhaps you've seen one of our 12,394 reposts on Instagram lately (sorry, not sorry). Moraine Lake and its turquoise waters are the most awe-inspiring we've ever seen. There are several areas to hike nearby if you have the time. But if you're crunched for it, take the 3 km return route along the shoreline. Take a seat lakeside to take in that take-your-breath-away view. To avoid heavy crowds, we suggest you go very early in the morning. As in like 5 AM early.

Top tip: You can pair this hike with a trip up to Lake Louise – and either the Lake Agnes or Plain of Six Glaciers hikes.

Fundy Footpath, New Brunswick

  • Distance: 41 km
  • Time needed: 3 - 4 day
  • Level of difficulty: Advanced

A coastal wonderland awaits in The Bay of Fundy. It's the ideal way to experience the spectacular Bay of Fundy coastline - home to the highest tides and the rarest whales in the world (they've even got some dinosaur fossils down there too) - no wonder it’s been coined as one of the 7 wonders of North America. The Fundy Footpath sits within Fundy National Park with a plethora of lookouts, beaches and waterfalls within the 2,500-hectare park.

Although it can be done at once, it’s best enjoyed in bite-sized pieces. Hikers can easily break it up into smaller sections of varying difficulty and length. The heated pool is the perfect place to relax after a long hike!

Set up camp in one of three campgrounds and set off on the adventure of your choice. There’s a Fundy Trails Facebook group if you would like more tips or if you want to find some hiking pals in the area. 

The Great Trail, Canada

Of course, this isn’t just one trail. It connects hundreds of the smaller hiking trails, footpaths, rail trails and boardwalks into one mega trail that snakes through Canada. At 24,140 kilometres, it’s the longest recreational trail network in the entire world.

Top tip: Want to know how and when you can hit it? Get all the latest info on the official Great Trail app.

Ready to stumble off the beaten path? This is just the beginning! Get in touch via the blue button below and we'll help you find your own path to explore in Canada on our Working Holiday, Au Pair or Intern trips.

Canadian adventure is calling!

Sophie Grove

Sophie Grove

Sophie was a Social Media Coordinator & Content Marketer for The Global Work & Travel Co. and a travel lover at heart. When she’s not busy double tapping and sharing all your amazing travel inspiration on our social pages, she’s busy planning her next escape! Her next big bucket list items include skydiving over Dubai and camping on the Great Wall of China.