Canada Set to Open the World’s Longest Recreational Trail

Canada Set to Open the World’s Longest Recreational Trail

There’s no drafting here as Canada gets ready to celebrate its 150th birthday in 2017 with a 24,000km trail across the country—and it's not just for bikes!

Germany impressed the world with the reveal of a 100km car-free highway earlier this year, followed by an even more exciting proposal of the 5,000km East Coast Greenway in the United States. However, grossly surpassing both at 24,000km, Canada is set to open the longest network of recreational trails in the world.

Photo courtesy of Andrew Penner/The Great Trail.

Given Canada’s vast variety of unforgiving terrain—dense forests, mountains, lakes, and barren tundra, forging thousands of kilometers of usable trail has been no walk in the park—pun intended. The trail is relying mainly on the intricate connection of work by local organizations and funding from private donors, with the Canadian government matching fifty cents for every dollar donated and has given more than 50 million dollars to trail construction so far.

The Coastal Trail in Fund National Park. Photo courtesy of Parks Canada and the Province of New Brunswick.
The Coastal Trail in Fundy National Park.Photo courtesy of Parks Canada and the Province of New Brunswick.

Almost 25 years in the making, The Great Trail will link multiple recreational trails across the country and is being built with hikers, cross-country skiers, snowmobilers and horseback riders in mind. It will even include large stretches of water-based trails for paddlers and kayakers. Once complete, you'll be able to span the second largest country in the world—any way you choose.

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“To me, this is very, very exciting!” says Kelly Magelky, a pro mountain biker currently living south of the Canadian border in Colorado. Originally from North Dakota, Kelly moved to Colorado when he was 18 and fell in love with mountain biking—and cycling in general. Admitting to never having been athletic growing up Kelly dove into cycling late, yet has had a successful run as a cross-country and ultra-endurance racer, chalking up over 30 wins since turning pro, and proving it’s never too late to try something new.

On top of promoting healthy lifestyles, a large intention of The Great Trail is to encourage safe, active transportation and make it as accessible as possible—which it’s succeeding at as 80% of Canadians live within 30 minutes of the trail.

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Like us at The Outdoor Journal, Kelly believes that everyone has at least a little sense of adventure. On top of the people that will take this trail as a personal challenge and use parts of it to traverse the whole country, many will be looking to do their first 20km bicycle ride and start making their way though parts of the country without using their car.
[su_quote]“They will feel a huge sense of accomplishment when they look around and they realize they didn’t need an automobile to do it.”[/su_quote]

Giving people a new perspective and seeing something entirely different than you would have in a car is exactly the type of sustainable infrastructure key to travel, adventure sports and exploration—not exploitation of the outdoors.

“This trail, undoubtedly, promotes the adventure side of any type of trail use in its sheer length and magnitude. Just knowing that you are on a trail that, if you keep going, will take you a total of 24,000km would absolutely inspire people to explore a little more of it every time they’re on it!”


For the people working hard to get everything ready for the big birthday celebration, the main focus has been connecting the trail in time for the party on August 26th, 2017 - exciting details still in the works and to come soon! Christina Kozakiewicz of Trans Canada Trail also told The Outdoor Journal that the plans for the trail after the official reveal are equally important. “We will have a connected Trail across Canada, and new work lies ahead of us in improving the Trail, creating new spurs and connectors, creating more greenways, and getting Canadians and people around the world


the Trail, sharing their experiences, etc.”

For more information on The Great Trail, updates on its progress or how you can donate please visit their website.

To check out what Kelly Magelky of Honey Stinger/Bontrager is up to—in between raising new twin boys—head to his website.

Feature image: Nova Scotia Celtic Shores Coastal Trail. Photo courtesy of Nova Scotia Trails Federation.