Canada has unlimited hiking options—which is a blessing, but can be a curse when trying to narrow down a single route.
Here to help you sort through this plethora of wilderness is a hiking trail guide with three essential routes, all in Canada:
Mount Arrowsmith Regional Park (Vancouver Island, B.C.)
Length: 6 km
One of central Vancouver Island’s most popular hikes/scrambles, Mount Arrowsmith’s Judges Route is at its best in autumn — thanks to dry weather, reduced crowds and very little snowpack (or none at all). Access the route via a rough dirt road off Highway 4, at the top of The Hump en route to Port Alberni. Most vehicles capable of a little dirt-driving can get to the trailhead; a four-wheel-drive helps. The well-marked route carves through scrubby evergreens, passing dramatic Beaufort Range views from The Saddle, before entering the alpine, at which time it becomes a scramble — three points of contact may be necessary as you traverse The Knuckles. Some choose to turn around at this point, others summit the mountain via this moderately technical rock-route, culminating at The Nose. Enjoy a sweeping overlook of the Strait of Georgia and Strathcona Provincial Park before heading down; you’ll be back at your car five to six hours after you started. (Pack lots of water — you won’t find any on the route.)
Best For: Intermediate-level day-hikers hikers looking to experience scrambling.
La Mauricie National Park, Quebec
Length: 17 km
Come autumn, Quebec’s La Mauricie National Park, near Shawinigan, is an explosion of vibrant reds, oranges, yellows and gold — and Deux-Criques (Two Creeks) Trail could offer up some of the best views of all the Laurentians. A challenging day-hike suitable for trekkers with strong cardio and a willingness to climb, the trailhead is located near Riviere a la Peche Campground and will take you on an uphill march for the next 8.5 km. Expect some well-maintained stairs and scramble-worthy rock sections and you’ll have to ford a creek (which is at its lowest in fall) — but the payoff is multiple lookout points (many with platforms or benches), including Ruisseau de Fou Falls. The campground at the trailhead offers secluded sites (some with electricity), kitchen shelters, drinking water, flush toilets and showers.
Best For: In-shape hikers looking for Canada’s finest fall colours.
Ingraham Trail Hikes
Yellowknife, Northwest Territories (pictured)
Length: 0.7 to 3 km
Rather than a single route, this is a series of hikes found on the Ingraham Trail — an all-season road leading east from Yellowknife. The highway, covering a length of 70 km (each way) is home to true northern wilderness — more than a dozen lakes, plus picnic spots, campgrounds, canoe routes and hiking trails. Ranney Hill-Martin Lake Trail, seven kilometres from Yellowknife, will work up a sweat with its 2.5-km route that culminates with a short climb to the summit of a pink-granite dome. Prelude Lake Nature Trail, located 30 km east of Yellowknife, is a three-kilometre jaunt through Canadian Shield granite and vibrant woodlands. Reid Lake Trail is near the terminus of Ingraham Trail and is less than one kilometre in length, but the glacial-scarred rocks and serene lake are worth the interlude; a campsite is located here. Beyond this, the road ends — and, in winter, the famous Ice Road begins. The area also offers multi-day canoe routes for all skill levels.
Best For: Road-trippers wishing to squeeze a lot of sightseeing into a day.