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The Great Trail
Your 15,000-Mile Adventure Awaits!


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The Trans Canada Trail, or Sentier Transcanadian (, if you prefer French parlance, has been augmented to become the "Great Trail" and is set to "open" in 2017 in time for Canada's 150th confederation birthday.

Some 400 community trails have been linked and new pathways connected. The Great Trail will extend 15,000 miles! The trail will run completely across Canada, through 13 provinces and territories and touch three oceans (the Atlantic and Pacific, obviously, but also the Beaufort Sea in the Arctic Ocean!) It thus is being called the longest recreational trail in the world.

The trail map ( is colored coded: green indicates existing dirt, gravel or paved road trails through wilderness, rural and urban landscapes; red markings indicate proposed trail connections; and the blue lines mean you'll need a kayak or other means of water transportation. For instance, the northern side of Lake Superior is wilderness, but has no trail, so the choice is a water route of 614 miles along the shoreline! About a quarter of the "trail" is water.

Talk about awaiting adventures and a variety of land and waterscapes. And when the sunshine turns to snow and ice, the trail accommodates cross country skiing and snowmobiling, and not doubt some skating on some water bodies. Rail lines once covered large portions of the trail; those right-of-ways have been donated by the Canadian Pacific and Canadian National railways. But no single entity owns the trail; instead, it's managed and maintained by trail and conservation groups and local, regional and national government bodies.

The idea for connecting the network of trails emerged during Canada's 125th anniversary (1992) and was inspired by such major bike routes as the UK's 14,000-mile National Cycle Network and the network of cycling routes throughout Europe (EuroVelo).

Most of the "main sections" of the trail connect many of Canada's larger cities and populated areas to the south; 80 percent of Canadians live within 30 minutes of a section of the trail. Shelters with access to drinking water are found along the trail "at regular intervals in some portions."

For the truly adventurous, a modern Shackleton, for instance, there's a long northern section that runs from Edmonton, Alberta north through British Columbia and into the Yukon, paralleling the Alaska Highway and other less traveled roads. If you keep going, the trail enters the Northwest Territories and terminates on the shores of the Arctic Ocean (yet another "water" trail).

The southern route offers a bike trail from Calgary and Banff, over the Rocky Mountains, through Vancouver and down to the southern tip of British Columbia and its capital, Victoria, on Vancouver Island. Bon voyage.

As seen in LASN magazine, October 2016.

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July 19, 2019, 6:55 pm PDT

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