10 Inspiring Adventures Across Canada

From rolling farmlands to breathtaking coastal scenery, Canada is full of awe-inspiring outdoor outings. Here, author and travel blogger Leigh McAdam offers up some the finest adventures the Great White North has to offer.

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Lake O'Hara, British Columbia
Photo: Leigh McAdam

Hiking the Lake O’Hara Alpine Circuit – British Columbia

This is an extraordinary hike that over-delivers when it comes to mountain scenery. The Lake O’Hara circuit is a place that will stir your soul with turquoise lakes, stunning glaciers and rugged mountain peaks. Hikes in the area range from easy to very difficult with choices varying from a pleasurable walk around the lake to more challenging routes that take you along airy trails with steep drop offs. Accommodation options include the more expensive Lake O’Hara lodge, the Alpine Club of Canada hostel, and a nice campground. Any of these options must be booked well in advance and only a limited number of hikers are allowed up on the bus every day.

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Icebergs in Newfoundland
Photo: Leigh McAdam

Kayaking With Icebergs in Twillingate – Newfoundland

Kayaking the Twillingate area provides the setting for an experience that can be found in only a few places on this planet. There’s something magical about paddling eye level with icebergs. They represent Mother Nature at her finest as they are both powerful and unpredictable. These 10,000 year old icebergs, which take two years to move from the west coast of Greenland to the shores of Newfoundland, can roll over with little notice and calve without warning sending a wave big enough to flip you. But if you keep a respectable distance away, then kayaking with icebergs is a memorable way to experience the beauty and uniqueness of the Twillingate area.

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Auyuittuq National Park, Nunavut
Photo: Leigh McAdam

Backpacking in Auyuittuq National Park – Nunavut

Auyuittuq National Park provides a wilderness backpacking experience through a powerful landscape of rugged mountains, glaciers, and roaring rivers where only the heartiest of plants and animals survive and the weather can change in a heartbeat. This adventure will lead you to cross the Arctic Circle on foot; hike past Mount Thor with its massive cliff face, the largest in the world. The trail ends at Summit Lake, a desolate spot famous for its extreme winds. Though the hiking itself is not very difficult, the weight of your backpack and crossing the rivers will create a challenge. Still, the trip is one you won’t forget.

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Vineyard in Prince Edward County
Photo: Leigh McAdam

Cycling the Back Roads of Prince Edward County – Ontario

Cycling the back roads of Prince Edward County takes you through a pastoral landscape of rolling hills crisscrossed by uncrowded roads on the north shore of Lake Ontario on the Bay of Quinte. This is more than farm country as the roads wind past some of the largest fresh water sand dunes in the world, home to kilometres of golden sand beaches and lead you through historic towns. There are over 30 wineries in the area providing opportunities to stop and discover your new favourite wine. The roads also follow an Arts and Taste Trail, showcasing local artists and galleries and leading you to some of the hottest artisanal food producers.

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Churchill River in Saskatchewan
Photo: Leigh McAdam

Canoeing the Churchill River – Saskatchewan

Canoeing the Churchill River offers a classic Canadian wilderness experience. The range of canoe routes in the area is phenomenal as the river moves through adrenaline inducing rapids punctuated by kilometres of peaceful lake paddling. This unique pattern allows one to catch their breath as they await the next roar of the rapids. Bold adventurers can try their hand at the bigger rapids while others can portage along routes that natives have been using for millennia. Enjoy the company of white pelicans from your campsites on beautiful rocky points.

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Crypt Lake Trail in Alberta
Photo: Leigh McAdam

Hiking Crypt Lake Trail – Alberta

This one-of-a-kind trail offers a variety of experiences that you’re not likely to find on any other hike in Canada. The day begins with a boat ride to the trailhead. Initially, the trail climbs through the forest, passing multiple sets of waterfalls to end at Crypt Lake which backs onto the Alberta/Montana border. The crux of the hike is a 10 minute section requiring one to scramble across a narrow scree slope, climb an 8 foot ladder, wiggle through a 20 metre tunnel and then inch along a narrow rocky trail with a steel cable handhold. Hikers are rewarded with the perfect lunch spot on a stunning beach stretching for hundreds of metres along Crypt Lake.

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Biking trail in Prince Edward Island
Photo: Leigh McAdam

Biking the Length of the Island – Prince Edward Island

Prince Edward Island is only 220 kilometres in length so it’s perfect as a cycling destination if you are new to multi-day bike trips. You have a choice of generally easy cycling on both scenic roads and the Confederation Trail: a multi-use trail sprung from an old rail bed. Enjoy fresh lobster and scallop burgers, visit Anne of Green Gables house, cycle through Prince Edward Island National Park and stop at any one of the abundant and always stunning beaches. PEI is also famed for its residents who welcome you as one of their own. The hospitality you’ll experience as you make your way from one end of the island to other will leave you with the fondest of memories.

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Hopewell Rocks in Newfoundland
Photo: Leigh McAdam

Kayaking the Hopewell Rocks – New Brunswick

Kayaking the Hopewell Rocks in New Brunswick is the perfect opportunity for families and those new to kayaking to experience the wonder of the Bay of Fundy tides. The world-renowned tides are the highest in the world, allowing you to experience the beauty of the flower pot rock formations both via foot and a few hours later via kayak. This half-day trip allows you to view the breathtaking coastal scenery from a different perspective as you paddle through caves and up close to the wild rock formations.

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Cape Chignecto Trail
Photo: Leigh McAdam

Backpacking Through Cape Chignecto Trail – Nova Scotia

The Cape Chignecto Trail is a three to four day backpacking trip with the option of camping or staying in a hut. Hike through an area offering views of dramatic high red cliffs, sheltered coves and remnant old growth forest. The pristine coastline offers plenty of opportunity to enjoy your meals on numerous beaches that feature unforgettable views. Though this is not an easy trail, the abundant wild flowers and sea birds provide ample distraction from the challenge. This trail will also take you through a unique fog forest that is the most spectacular colour of green.

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Blueberry Route
Photo: Leigh McAdam

Cycling the Blueberry Route – Quebec

The Blueberry route takes you 256 kilometres around Lac St. Jean, located a few hundred kilometres north of Quebec City. Highlights include rolling farm land with unending fields of canola and grain and meandering roads through Point-Taillon National Park filled with sandy beaches and lakeside trails. You pass many a spectacular waterfall as well. You’ll travel through numerous small villages dominated by beautiful churches on a mix of dedicated bike paths, paved shoulders, and roads. Discover the meaning of fresh cheese at any of the many family-run cheese making operations. Add a baguette and you’ll enjoy a memorable picnic lunch in the countryside.

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Uncover more exciting adventures in Leigh McAdam’s book, Discover Canada: 100 Inspiring Outdoor Adventures, available on her blog, Hike Bike Travel.

© 2014 by Leigh McAdam. Discover Canada: 100 Inspiring Outdoor Adventures. Granville Island Publishing.

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