How to experience Canada’s wild outdoors on your own

Retracing the steps of the Stempeders' route over the Chilkoot Pass. | Mark Daffey
Retracing the steps of the Stempeders' route over the Chilkoot Pass. | Mark Daffey

From multi-day hikes and rich cultural experiences, to some of the world’s best cycle touring opportunities, Canada promises one epic outdoor adventure after another.

For those who enjoy doing their own thing when it comes to travel and going independent rather than with a guided group, but haven’t got the time to sort logistics (think: route planning, accommodation, etc.) for their dream trip, a self-guided walk or cycling experience in Canada is a must.

Great Canadian Trails (GCT), World Expeditions’ active Canadian holidays division, offers a number of these types of trips that are perfect for the time-poor adventurous traveller. With the advantage of well-researched routes, combined with the attraction of being able to choose your travelling partner(s) yourself (or go solo), it’s easy to see why these trips are viewed as the perfect, hassle-free way to maximise time at one of the many specky destinations on offer.

Being able to arrive at that dream destination – say, the East Coast Trail, the Sunshine Coast’s Hut to Hut walking trail, or Prince Edward Island – and have a map, route guide, historical info on the region you’re exploring, pre-booked accommodation, transfers where needed, and your luggage already on the way to the first night’s destination means you can just focus on enjoying the adventure itself.

The East Coast Trail skirts the cliffs at Cape Spear Lighthouse. Photo: Barrett & MacKay Photo

And there are plenty of self-guided experiences to choose from, as well as a variety of ways to experience the one destination. An example of this is the famous East Coast Trail (ECT); the full East Coast Trail is a 10-day walking extravaganza following the Newfoundland coastline, and one for relatively experienced walkers.

For those who aren’t up to this, there’s the East Coast Experience, which gives you the option of day hikes along popular sections of the ECT, and thus allowing you to still experience this famous long-distance trail.

'The Cribbies' on Newfoundland's East Coast Trail. Photo: Barrett & MacKay Photo

Another self-guided walk is Ontario’s Bruce Peninsula Traverse, a 10-day taster of the huge 885km Bruce Trail (Canada’s oldest marked footpath) and regarded as the most scenic part of that huge trail; walking near the edge of high cliffs, overlooking some of Canada’s Great Lakes scenery, is unforgettable, as is staying in the many quaint inns that GCT has pre-booked for you. Sounds tough, eh?

Tackling a self-guided cycling trip in Canada can seem daunting but, again, with GCT’s pre-planned adventures, there’s really nothing you have to do; simply turn up and jump on your bike for the first of what will no doubt be a number of awesome days.

Riding along scenic trail bridges in Canada's East Coast. Photo: Guy Wilkinson

Whether it is cycling around Ontario’s Niagara Peninsula for eight days, or heading to the more remote Prince Edward Island (north of Nova Scotia) for a week of two-wheeled exploration, by having everything pre-organised (bike, maps, accommodation, luggage transfer) all you have to do is soak up that wind-in-the-hair feeling and the beautiful scenery. For wine buffs, it’s hard to go past the cruisy cycling experience that is riding part of the Trans Canada Trail (a nice, flat route) through BC’s Okanagan winery region.

Views from Kettle Valley Winery. Photo: Annika Rautiola

With self-guided adventures covering all parts of Canada, GCT has solved the one big problem for the more independent-minded traveller – all you need to do now is take your pick and get psyched to enjoy maximum Canada immersion!

Words by Justin Walker
Featured image: Mark Daffey


adventure travel, bike, Bruce Peninsula Traverse, Canada, Canada's great lakes, Cycling, cycling trails, east canada, east coast trail, great canadian trails, Hiking Trails, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, self-guided, treks, walks

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