By now, you may have seen the great ads that have just hit the airwaves showcasing the Trans Canada Trail (TCT) as a place for all Canadians. If you’re looking for a way to really enjoy the outdoors this summer, take in some breathtaking views, learn some Canadian history, experience nature and get some exercise with your family — then grab your bike, your hiking shoes and sunscreen and hit those trails.
Initiated in 1992 as a project to celebrate Canada’s 125th year, the Trans Canada Trail is the world’s longest network of multi-use recreational trails. When completed, it will stretch 23,000 kilometres from the Atlantic to the Pacific to the Arctic oceans, through every province and territory, linking over 1000 communities and all Canadians.
To date, more than 16,800 kilometres of the Trail are operational — which is close to 73 per cent of the proposed route. Today, four out of five Canadians live within 30 minutes of completed sections of the Trail. The goal is to connect the Trail as a continuous route from coast-to-coast-to-coast by 2017, the 25th anniversary of the Trail and Canada’s 150th birthday. With 6,200 kilometres of Trail to go, many in unpopulated areas with difficult terrain, this is a bold and ambitious goal.
Currently, the Trans Canada Trail is made up of close to 400 individual trails, each with unique and varied features. For day trips or multi-day adventures, the Trail offers countless opportunities to explore and discover. There is nothing more patriotic than to connect with the diverse culture, historic, bio-diverse and dynamic landscapes of Canada, its regions and communities.
The trails are varied. There are of course, groomed trails, but there is some crazy remote wilderness out there to explore as well. If you are into water sports, canoe the routes of early explorers or swim. If cycling is your thing, there are endless biking routes along historic rail trails to boot. View rugged coastlines and prairie sunsets or picnic in a local urban park. The unedited beauty of each trail segment makes for a myriad of inspiring experiences, all offering endless possibilities for fun and discovery.
To accomplish a project of this magnitude is mindboggling. Think about it. It will extend from coast-to-coast-to-coast. The TCT requires the collaboration of countless individuals, levels of government, volunteers and organizations. To date, more than 125,000 Canadians have helped build the Trail. Donors and sponsors are recognized in the Trail’s 86 red-roofed pavilions.
Major corporations, foundations and all levels of government have contributed to the development of the Trail. And then there are the 400 local trail groups, municipalities and conservation authorities that build and manage their local sections of the Trail. They make it all happen. They plan trail routes, raise funds, clear brush, install bridges, secure permits, put up signs, run events and encourage people to get out and enjoy the trail.
Not to get too patriotic, but the TCT really inspires national pride not only for the collaboration and cooperation of everyone involved with the project, but there is that complete awe you feel when you take the time to stop to take in the beauty of our amazing country.
This summer, there is no better way to experience Canada than to hit the trails. Just ask the Governor General, His Excellency David Johnston. As part of the commemoration of the War of 1812, he and Valerie Pringle (who is co-chair of the Trans Canada Trail) cycled 12 km along the Niagara River Recreational Trail for a scenic ride from the Laura Secord Homestead to Fort George. If you find yourself in Prince Edward Island, you can follow the Trail as it winds around the whole province. Discover B.C. wine country on the TCT or follow abandoned Musquodoboit railroad that has been transformed into trails. Put some calm in your commute and enjoy the Trail as it snakes along lakeshores, even in the urban reality of Toronto. That’s the beauty of the TCT. You get to experience all that Canada has to offer. Plan your visit at www.tctrail.ca.