The best hiking in Atlantic Canada
Whether it's watching whales slap their tails, hiking trails rich with history, climbing Gros Morne’s highest peak or walking along a salt marsh boardwalk, there's a hike perfect for you in Nova Scotia, PEI, New Brunswick or Newfoundland and Labrador.
Newfoundland and Labrador
Signal Hill National Historic Site
Time: 1 hour
Level of difficulty: Difficult. Best for adventurous people not suffering from vertigo!
The North Head Trail is the oldest of the trails on Signal Hill. It may have been in use as far back as the 1500s. It’s a tough hour-long clamber which winds along the cliff rising steeply along the rugged terrain. Sure, some sections may leave you puffing for air, but you’re guaranteed historic surroundings and ravishing views over the seascape and St. John’s Harbour in Newfoundland while you recover; totally worth it!
Cape Spear Lighthouse National Historic Site
Length: 3.7km (one-way)
Time: 1.5 hours
Level of difficulty: Moderate. Best for older children and adults.
Stride out and snap a selfie at Canada’s easternmost point of land and imagine the generations who lived in historic Cape Spear Lighthouse, the oldest surviving lighthouse in Newfoundland and Labrador. Connect to the East Coast Trail system here on the Blackhead Path which offers up a scenic climb looking out over the Southside hills cliffs, Cabot Tower and the lighthouse. Wrap up for all weathers; things can get a little wet and foggy!
Terra Nova National Park
Length: 9.5km (return)
Time: 3 - 3.5 hours
Level of difficulty: Easy to moderate. Best for older kids and adults.
Explore the ever-popular Coastal Trail, a mostly easy hike with a few moderate climbs thrown in to keep you on your toes (and hands and knees!). Journey to the heart of the park, past the shimmering waters of Pissamare Falls, across Salton’s Brook then along the coast trail of inner Newman Sound. Look out for bald eagles swooping overhead and Moon jellyfish drifting in the waters below.
Gros Morne National Park
Length: 16km (return)
Time: 6 - 8 hours
Level of difficulty: Difficult. This one’s for experienced hikers.
Challenge yourself on the Gros Morne Mountain Trail and follow the rocky path to Gros Morne’s highest point 806 meters above sea level. Head up on a clear day to reap the benefit of panoramic views over the Long Range Mountains and Ten Mile Pond gorge. Look out for the arctic hare and rock ptarmigan who make their home here, and spot arctic-alpine plants growing close to the earth. Mind your step as you scramble over boulders on the way down; this hike can be tough on the knees!
Port au Choix National Historic Site
Length: 1km (one-way)
Time: 10 - 20 minutes
Level of difficulty: Moderate. Best for older kids and mobile adults because the rock crossings can get slippery when wet.
Walk in ancient footsteps on the west side of Newfoundland's Great Northern Peninsula, at the crossroads of 6000 years of human history. Take the 1km Coastal Trail to Phillip’s Garden, one of the largest Dorset sites in the eastern Canadian Arctic. The site contains at least 50 house depressions and thousands of artifacts from the Paleoeskimo occupation. Look out for the small dense Coastal Tuckamore trees along the way, and see if you can spot a whale flip its tail out to sea.
Prince Edward Island
Prince Edward Island National Park
Time: 60 - 90 minutes
Level of difficulty: Moderate. The stairs that take you to the top of the dunes can be difficult for some.
Travel across homestead fields, through a forest stand, and over a floating boardwalk, as you make your way to the majestic Greenwich dunes and a panorama like no other!
Cape Breton Highlands National Park
Length: 8.2km (loop)
Time: 2 -3 hours
Level of difficulty: Easy. An accessible trail with a boardwalk and rugged back loop, but no dogs are allowed.
Get ready for some serious wow factor along the Skyline Trail, a loop through one of the complex habitats of Cape Breton Island into a wild world of beauty. From an eagle’s eye view of the Cabot Trail and spotting whales in the Gulf of St Lawrence below, to a boardwalk over fragile headland plants, and the chance to spy moose, bald eagles and bears; there’s plenty to see along this stunning trail.
Fundy National Park
Time: 3 - 5 days
Level of difficulty: Difficult. Best for serious backcountry hikers!
Bragging rights await those who dare tackle the Fundy Circuit, a 48-kilometre network of seven linked hiking trails with backcountry camping along the way. Make your camping reservations and explore the hidden treasures of this gorgeous national park from river valleys, and crystal clear lakes, to Acadian forest and rugged coastal trails.
Kouchibouguac National Park
Time: 30 minutes
Level of difficulty: Easy. All are welcome to explore this accessible boardwalk trail.
Take a walk along the most travelled trail in the park! Kellys Beach Boardwalk doesn’t just lead to the sand, salt-marsh grass and clear waters where hermit crabs, mussels, oysters, sand shrimp and moon snails live; it’s also a chance to learn about the evolution of the barrier island dunes, thanks to our interpretive signs which line the route. SO much life exists in this fragile habitat!
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