At 24,000 kilometers (15,000 miles) in length, the TCT — the Trans Canada Trail — is the planet’s longest “trail” network. The route consists of forested paths, canoe routes, urban walkways, streets, logging roads, and secondary highways.
It’s all linked by a huge map, available online.
The trails were finally linked together in 2017, on Canada’s 150th birthday, making this network the longest trail in the world, stretching 24,000 kilometers from the Atlantic to the Pacific and north to the Arctic Ocean.
How would one even begin to describe the sort of herculean effort that goes into the creation of such a trail, or of the myriad of trail types from pavement to scree to glaciers and forests–and all of the environments through which it passes?
The effort began in 1992 as an initiative to celebrate Canada’s 125th year, and when finished, it would pass through every province and territory in the nation, a network of almost 500 individual trails, connecting almost 500 different communities.
If you were to walk its entire length, you would pass over the dizzying Kinsol Trestle Bridge above the Koksilah River on Vancouver Island; hike through 3,400 acres of the Glenbow Rance Provincial Park between Calgary and Cochrane; and in Nova Scotia, you’d walk the abandoned Musquodoboit Railway Line on the Salt Marsh Trail.
America’s Triple Crown of trails — Pacific Crest, Appalachian, and Continental Divide — are hallmark domestic routes. The PCT stretches 2,700 miles from Mexico to Canada. The AT worms 2,200 miles from Maine to Georgia. And the CDT extends 3,100 miles from New Mexico to Montana.
The Great Trail in Canada dwarfs all of those trails combined. It’s a noble push and an exciting addition to the world of ultra-long human routes.
Thousands of Canadians have given their time to help make this trail a reality, and regardless of where you go, you will never be far from a pavilion that will provide you with shelter, drinking water, and a little courage to keep going through Brigus Junction and Gambo, Rattling Brook and Foxtrap, and a thousand other places you’ve never heard of before, as you press ever forward along a trail, that as much as any trail anywhere, defines the nation through which it so gloriously passes.