Step one: buy good boots. Step two: break them in. Step three: book time off work. Final steps: prepare yourself physically and mentally to tackle Canada’s longest hikes.
Some of these may take three to four days; others may take a month or more. Some are networks that you can piece together over a season’s worth of day-hikes; others are full-on commitments. Some are multi-use; others are most certainly hikers-only. But all are spectacular.
1. The Great Divide Trail
Length: 1,200 km
The full GDT runs for a staggering 1,200 km, roughly following the Continental Divide through BC and Alberta’s Rocky Mountains. Most legs of this trail require total self-sufficiency and are suited only for experienced trekkers, but rewards come in the form of amazing vistas and high-altitude serenity. Resupplying is possibly every four to nine days; the towns of Waterton, Blairmore and Jasper are popular jumping-off points. Expect a workout: there is more than 1,500 metres of elevation difference between the highest and lowest points on the trail. The Great Divide Trail Association is always hard at work maintaining sections—their website is an excellent source of info for trekkers. (It should be noted that much of the GDT is rugged and unmarked other than by GPS coordinates—at times, more of a “route” than an actual “trail.”)