Canadian hiking gives you a greater appreciation for the vast nation’s diverse and pristine beauty. However, the ideal hiking season can feel limited to the recreational adventurer: hit the trail in the summer, and you might be at the mercy of the insects — and trail accessibility is limited in the winter.
Enter autumn. The best hiking trails in Canada are nothing short of astounding as the leaves change colours and the air takes on a wonderfully crisp feel. The only struggle is deciding which trails to choose — there are far too many for even the most ambitious hikers to cover all of them. With no shortage of options for fall hikes in Canada, we’ve highlighted a few of the best to help you plan the ultimate adventure.
Pelly Point Nature Trail
An abundance of broadleaf trees makes Saskatchewan a far better bet for seeing fall colours than many pine-heavy regions. You could explore multiple trails each day and only scratch the surface of this province’s remarkable fall hiking scene — but at minimum, you’ll want to check out the Pelly Point Nature Trail. This easy route passes through multiple ecosystems, but you will feel most compelled to stop for photos by the maples and aspens. Bring a picnic lunch to enjoy along the shore of Pelly Bay.
An abundance of coniferous trees keeps significant segments of the Vancouver area looking similar through the seasons (minus the obvious addition of winter snow). Still, there are pockets of autumn colour, as evidenced by the trails near Flood Falls. This quick hike should only occupy half an hour of your time, even if you slow down to take in the view. While the falls are most impressive in the spring, the scenery remains lovely in autumn. Pair with a visit to Bridal Veil Falls for the ultimate waterfall day trip.
Explore the iconic face of the famed Niagara Escarpment, where you’ll enjoy mesmerizing views of the fall colours and even islands in the distance. Be prepared to navigate a dirt road for some time before you reach the trailhead. At that point, you’ll need to navigate all the roots and rocks that distinguish the region’s best trails. The effort will prove more than worthwhile, as the photo opportunities from the trail’s outcrop are nothing short of impressive. Beware, however, as there are many steep drop-offs.
Cup and Saucer Trail
Another Ontario favorite for fans of the Niagara Escarpment, the memorably named Cup and Saucer Trail is not for the faint of heart. Scrambling may sometimes be required, with steep stairs and ladders adding to the inevitable sense of exertion.
Once you reach the trail’s lookout point, you’ll be treated to colourful vistas. Surprisingly, the summer crowds die down considerably in September, so you can meander at the outlook as you enjoy the solitude. Bring binoculars not only for exceptional birdwatching but also to take a closer look at the intricate beauty of Manitoulin Island — and even Lake Huron in the distance.
Also known as Trail #62, this lovely Quebec route should be a central component of any visit to Gatineau Park. The trail’s secluded feel may be surprising, given its proximity to Ottawa. The forested path offers a variety of scenic lookout points that deliver the region’s best photo opportunities. Some of these even have benches, which encourage you and your loved ones to linger. The loop can be explored from either direction, but it may be easier to hike in a clockwise direction.
Sentinel Pass Trail
Discover the mystical wonder of larch trees in the fall at Alberta’s Sentinel Pass Trail. In addition to providing remarkable views of the jagged summits, this route encourages you to gaze out at the larches as they take on a golden hue. The views of the pristine Minnestimma Lakes are also awe-inducing.
The fun begins at Moraine Lake, one of the province’s most iconic outdoor scenes. The panoramic views get better as you go — but caution is advised for beginners and even intermediate explorers, as this hike can be incredibly challenging.
There are no trails like Spirit Sands, which take you through a diverse array of ecosystems. This series of trails will introduce you to a unique phenomenon known as “Manitoba’s Desert.” In addition to the dunes, you’ll have the opportunity to explore the Devil’s Punchbowl, where a large depression allows you to gaze out at a lovely panorama. Oaks and aspens deliver gorgeous fall colours.
This fall, treat yourself to a hiking extravaganza with truly iconic views. You’ll never regret exploring the wealth of hiking trails in Canada.
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