Trans Canada Trail

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Trans Canada Trail
Trans Canada Trail Pavilion.jpg
Trans Canada Trail pavilion in Fredericton, New Brunswick
Established 1992
Length (As of 2016) 21,452 kilometres (13,330 mi)
Location Canada
Trailheads St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador; Victoria, British Columbia; Tuktoyaktuk, Northwest Territories
Use Hiking, biking, equestrianism, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, canoeing
Lowest point Sea level
Hiking details
Trail difficulty Variable
Season All seasons
Sights Numerous
Hazards Multiple
Surface Variable
Right of way Multiple
Logo of the Trans Canada Trail

The Trans Canada Trail, being promoted since 2016 as The Great Trail,[1] is the world's longest network of recreational trails. It began construction in 1992.[2] When fully connected, the Trail will stretch 24,000 kilometres (15,000 mi) from the Atlantic to the Pacific to the Arctic oceans. Just over 21,000 kilometres (13,000 mi) of the trail have been completed as of November 2016 and are usable, making the entire project approximately 90% complete.[3] Two hundred forty gaps totalling 6,200 kilometres (3,900 mi) must be bridged in order to achieve a fully connected trail. The Trans Canada Trail has given itself until its 25th anniversary and Canada's 150th anniversary in 2017 to reach this objective.[4]

The creation of the Trail was born of Canada's 125th anniversary celebrations in 1992.[5] It has its counterparts in such other greenway routes as the 12 EuroVelo routes, the UK's National Cycle Network, and the United States Numbered Bicycle Routes network.

To date it has been funded largely by Canadian federal and provincial governments, with significant contributions from corporate and individual donors. The first province to have completed its designated section of the trail was Prince Edward Island (see Confederation Trail).

The network of the Trans Canada Trail is made up of more than 400 community trails. Each trail section is developed, owned and managed locally by trail groups, conservation authorities and by municipal, provincial and federal governments, for instance in parks such as Gatineau Park or along existing trails such as the Cataraqui Trail and Voyageur Hiking Trail. The Trans Canada Trail supports and is made up of greenways.[6]

Moreover, considerable parts of the Trail are repurposed defunct rail lines donated to provincial governments by CP and CN rail rebuilt as walking trails. As such, much of the Trans Canada Trail development emulated the successful Rails-to-Trails initiative in the United States, whereby these transportation corridors are "rail banked" as recreational trails, allowing conversion back to rail should future need arise.

Thousands of Canadians, community partner organizations, corporations, local businesses and all levels of government are involved in developing and maintaining these trails. The Trans Canada Trail does not own or operate any trail. As an ensemble, the Trans Canada Trail might be one of the largest volunteer projects ever undertaken in Canada.

The main section runs along the southern areas of Canada connecting most of Canada's major cities and most populous areas. There is also a long northern arm which runs through Alberta to Edmonton and then up through northern British Columbia to Yukon.[7]

This map of the province British Columbia shows the Trans Canada Trail, starting in North Saanich.

The Trail is multi-use and depending on the section may allow hikers, bicyclists, horseback riders, cross country skiers and snowmobilers. In theory, the Trail is equipped with regularly spaced pavilions that provide shelter as well as fresh water to travellers, but this varies widely from section to section, and particularly from province to province.

"Mile zero" of the Trail is located outside the Railway Coastal Museum in St. John's, Newfoundland.


Newfoundland and Labrador[edit]

The Trail Eastern Terminus starts in St. John's where it is known as the Grand Concourse Trail it passes by St. John's Harbour travelling south crossing Route 2 into Kilbride then through Bowring Park. Continuing north-west through Mount Pearl then Donovans crossing Route 1 into Paradise passing Neils Pond then several others as it makes its way through Woodstock. The route then turns south-west passing through Chamberlains, Manuels, Talcville and Foxtrap where it crosses Route 60.

The Trail continues through Conception Bay South where the trail is known as Newfoundland Trailway Park. Continuing south-west, the route passes through Riverdale and Hopewell, Indian Pond, Duffs then enters the east side of Holyrood Bay. The trail passes through Briens as it enters Hollyrood.

The route again crosses Route 60 then the North Arm River then travels north through Burnt Stump. The route travels south west passing Woodsford then passes through Brien's Gullies before then crossing Route 1 again. The route then passes through Brigus Junction, Mahers, then Ocean Pond then a mostly treed area before entering Whitbourne and crossing Route 80. Continuing the route crosses Route 100 then enters Placentia Junction before turning north passing over Coles Pond. Crossing Route 120, The next major location is Tickle Harbour Station where it again touches Route 1 and follows it crossing a few more times before entering Cobb's Pond then Come By Chance. The route continues as it enters Goobies, then Northern Blight, then crosses Route 1 as it enters Clarenville. The route follows Shool Harbour River as it enters Thorburn Lake then crosses Route 233 as it Port Blandford then crosses Route 1 again as it enters Terra Nova.

The Trail changes to Gambo to Terra Nova Trail as it Continues to Alexander Bay then route 1 then Route 320 as it enters Gambo.

Continuing north, the next leg of the trail is called Cobb Corridor Trail as it enters Butts then Benton then turning north-west as it enters Gander. As it continues, the route passes Glenwood then continues to Notre Dame Junction passing Route 340 and finally Norris Arm.

The next section is Newfoundland Trailway Park continuing to Rattling Brook, as it follows the Exploits River through Junipers Brook, Bishops Falls, Crossing Route 350 and continuing through Grand Falls.

Now known as Exploits Valley and Beothuk Trail the trail moves along into Windsor then Badger From here it is known as Newfoundland Trailway Park and travels through West Lake, Millertown Junction. the route passes through Quarry, Gaff Topsails, Kittys Brook, Howley where it crosses the Main Brook and ending in Deer Lake.

The next stretch is simply called Deer Lake to Corner Brook Trail and pretty much follows Route 1 through Pasadena, Steady Brook and Corner Brook on the south side of the Upper Humber River ending as it crosses Route 450.

continuing south, the route is now known as Newfoundland Trailway Park passing through Mount Moriah then continuing on Harrys River into Gallants then crossing Route 460 as it crosses Route 461 at Stephenville Crossing in St. George's Bay. Passing through St. George's, the route crosses Fischells Brook, then crosses Route 404 in Cartyville. Passing through St. Fintans, the route continues to Codroy Pond then South Branch, Benoits Siding, Doyles, Tompkins, St Andrews, and ending in Cape Ray.

The last stretch of the trail in Newfoundland is known as the Wreckhouse Trail. This trail passes through Osmond, Grand Bay, and ends in Port aux Basques where you would take the Port Aux Basques to North Sydney Ferry to North Sydney, Nova Scotia.

Nova Scotia[edit]

As the trail begins where it is known as Pottle Lake to North Sydney on the Cape Breton Island in the town of North Sydney separating itself from Highway 105 after the ferry ride from Newfoundland. As of June 2014, this portion of the route has not been completed however is planned to travel through the town and crossing Highway 125 following Old Branch Road on the North Side of Pottle Lake.

From here, the trail changes to Old Branch Road - George River Division continues through Georges River and continues south-east touching the north east corner of the Scotch Lake then enters the community of Scotch Lake and follows the Scotch Lake Rd.

The Route continues as Upper Leitches Creek to Scotch Lake briefly merging with Route 223 on the Bras D'or Lakes Scenic Drive then follows the Upper Leitches Creek Rd as it enter Upper Leitches Creek.

The route changes to the Scotch Lake - Grand Narrows trail as it continues now on Tower Rd as it passes the MacAulays Lakes. The route here will cross McLeod Brook as it passes through the Bodale Hills. The Route changes to Little Narrows as it enters the community of Rear Christmas Island. The route again merges onto Highway 223 in Christmas Island and follows the Highway through Grand Narrows, Iona, Jamesville, Jamesville West, and Ottawa Brook. As the route passes Bras D'or Lake, it crosses at Little Narrows using the Little Narrows Ferry and crosses the Trans-Canada at Highway 105 in Aberdeen, then continues north through Lewis Mountain where it becomes the Celtic Shores Coast Trail.

Celtic Shores Coast Trail[edit]

The route Trans Canada Trail continues passing Route 395 and passing through Scotsville to a fork north of Strathlorne.

North Trail

The North Path travels north and ends in Inverness.

South Trail

After passing through Strathlorne, the route passes Loch Ban then Black River where the route changes names to Mabou Rivers Trail. From here it passes through Glendyer then crosses Route 252 as it passes through Rankinville then crosses Route 19 in Mabou.

New Brunswick[edit]

Shogomoc River Pedestrian Bridge is a 265-foot suspension bridge in Canterbury, New Brunswick. Part of the Trans Canada Trail and the Sentier NB Trail network, it officially opened in October 2011 accompanied by a ribbon cutting ceremony with Valerie Pringle present as a Trans Canada Trail representative. Sentier NB Trail provided over $300,000 towards the project. It is known as the final non-motorized trail link between the town of Grand Bay–Westfield and the border of the province of Quebec.


As a legacy project of 2015 Pan American Games and 2015 Parapan American Games, the Pan Am Path helps complete 250 kilometres (160 mi) gaps in Ontario's portion of the Trans Canada Trail.[8] In 2013, a one kilometer long honorary segment of the Trans Canada Trail was opened on the grounds of Rideau Hall in Ottawa.[9]

British Columbia[edit]

The main leg of the trail enters British Columbia from Alberta, passing through the Kootenays and Columbia mountains. From there, it delves southward and westward near the Kettle river. The trail passes through the Okanagan Valley over the Kettle Valley Rail Trail, including the very popular Myra Canyon portion. From here, it heads through Princeton and continues west into the Lower Mainland.

Trans Canada Trail. B.C. section. Data sourced from the Government of British Columbia data catalogue.

Gaps and Criticism[edit]

Although promoted as complete, in actuality more than half of the trail is along the shoulders of highways. The trail is routed along 8,500 kilometres of roads and highways, 5,000 kilometres of trails of various kinds, and 7,000 kilometres of waterways including Lake Superior. [10]


See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ Retrieved on February 23, 2016.
  3. ^ Retrieved on February 23, 2016
  4. ^ Together Connected: Trans Canada Trail Year-End Review 2011–2012
  5. ^ Trans Canada Trail: The 18,000 kilometre dream, second edition, 2006
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^ Pan Am and Parapan Am Trails
  9. ^ "Honorary Trail opening at Rideau Hall and 24 Sussex a resounding success" (PDF), Trail Talk, Trans Canada Trail, 28 May 2013, retrieved 16 January 2015 
  10. ^ "It's Dangerous to Call the Trans-Canada Trail Complete". CBC. Retrieved 23 April 2017. 

External links[edit]