Canada completes world's longest hiking trail Part of the Great Trail in Nova Scotia (Dennis Jarvis/Wikimedia Commons)
Canada completes world's longest hiking trail

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Organizers have stitched together the missing links in Canada’s Great Trail. They connected a 14,000-mile hiking, biking and paddling route. It stretches coast-to-coast, as Kenny Sharpe reports for The Globe and Mail. It is a giant feat. It was officially completed on August 26. It makes the Great Trail the longest recreational trail system in the world.

The Great Trail was founded by Pierre Camu, Bill Pratt and Paul LaBarge. That was 25 years ago. They came up with the idea of linking Canada’s various trail networks into one mega-trail. This was to celebrate the nation’s 125th birthday. Since then, tens of millions of dollars have been spent. The money went to trail building, signage and negotiations with landowners and local governments. Four hundred and seventy-seven groups helped to create the trail’s 432 sections. It passes through 15,000 communities.

In September of 2016, the trail was only 85 to 90 percent connected. That's according to Tim Huebsch at Canadian Cycling. Over the last year, however, organizers made an enormous push. They worked with counties and municipalities to negotiate interim solutions for the missing bits of trail. 

“We were faced with the challenge to get the trail assembled . Our priority was to get it done,” LeBarge tells Sharpe. “Our second priority is now to get the signage up.  People should know they are on the Trans Canada Trail.”

Not everyone is impressed by the Great Trail. It was formerly known as the Trans-Canada Trail. That's according to Jason Markusoff at MacLean’s. Reportedly, the route falls significantly short of its original goal of being an off-road trail. Only around 4,900 miles of the route, or 32 percent, are composed of off-road trails. About 5,340 miles of the trail are along roads or the shoulders of highways. Another 3,770 miles are water trails and 1,110 miles share the trail with ATVs.

Markusoff points out that much of the section between Edmonton and Calgary follows busy Highway 2A. This is a route very few people would be willing to ride or hike. 

Edmund Aunger is a retiree who is biking the length of the trail. He tells Markusoff that the trail's name is dangerously misleading. “It’s only going to attract people who believe the image that’s presented, and the propaganda and their interactive map and app.”

Sharpe reports that the organizers say connecting up the route is just phase one of the project. Now that they have a rough draft of a route, over time they hope to refine the route and make it safer. And they hope that communities opposed to supporting off-road trails or bike lanes will see the value of the project.

Despite the criticisms, there's excitement over the route. Over the weekend there were over 200 celebrations along the path to celebrate the connection. “We’ve built it, we’ve connected it, we’re ready, so the next chapter is, 'Come on world, come see what Canada has to offer,” Deborah Apps, president of the project, tells Sharpe.

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Why was the completion of The Great Trail in Canada such a momentous occasion?
Write your answers in the comments section below

  • EthanM-eic
    9/13/2017 - 09:56 a.m.

    That is crazy! A 14,000 mile trail. That would be fun- and hard- to bike though. :)

  • Sebastianr-eic
    9/13/2017 - 09:58 a.m.

    I think it was amazing! 14,000 miles trail, that a good job Canada. I think it is good because it is the longest trail in the world. I agree it should be safer for traveling, but some people don't think it's amazing. I think people should make it a bigger deal so the people who spent a long time doing it will be respected.

  • Senaew-eic
    9/13/2017 - 10:01 a.m.

    That is really cool And long

  • Rileyc-eic
    9/13/2017 - 10:02 a.m.

    I think that this trail would be fun to ride across in a car or on a bike. That must or took a long time to build. It is 14,000 miles long. It goes from coast to coast.

  • veruanikkan-cel
    9/13/2017 - 11:47 a.m.

    The completion of the trail was a momentous occasion because it is a recognizable accomplishment for Canada. It is now the longest trail in the world. Also the trail was a a symbol/gift for the celebration of the nation's 125th birthday.

  • Karleighd-eic
    9/14/2017 - 11:31 a.m.

    I think WOW It is a long trail . Maybe When I grow Up I can walk all the way to the end .

  • jackiek-orv
    9/14/2017 - 02:46 p.m.

    How long would take to hike that?

  • Isabellei-dav
    9/18/2017 - 01:44 p.m.

    In response to "Canada completes the world's longest hiking trail," I belive that parts of the trails shouldn't be by a highway. In the article it says that it's by "busy highway 2A" . One reason I belive that it shouln't be near a highway is that it should be about nature and you shouldn't be able to hear cars or other vehichles. Another reason that why do you need ATV's when you can walk and bike because if you go on a ATV there usually pretty quick and you won't be able to see nature when you are going pretty quickly. The third reason why it shouldn't be by a highway because then kids will look at the cars and not the other things around them. They might be startled when a car goes whizzing past. A third reason is any ages should be able to go on trails and not be near cars and anything that's man made. Even though I do belive that it shouldn't be near a highway i'm glad that they have done this project and that it is finished and people will go and enjoy this trail that they have built.

  • Katief-dav1
    9/18/2017 - 02:52 p.m.

    In response to "Canada completes worlds longest hiking trail," I agree/disagree that have built. One reason I agree/disagree is that they found a lot of land to make a trail through and have been working hard. Another reason is that they have been working hard on it for a very long time. It says in the article Its the worlds longest trail for hiking. A third reason they set a world recorded. Even though it is a cool hiking trail, I think it would take a long time to finish hiking.

  • Delanieb-dav
    9/18/2017 - 02:54 p.m.

    In response to Canada builds world's longest hiking trail, I disagree that this is considered a hiking trail. One reason I disagree is that the trail goes through many main roads and a busy highway. Another reason is that this trail is not hiking safe. It says in the article that there isn't enough room for ATV's and bikes or pedestrians on the road. A third reason I disagree is that many have found that the trail has not been fully cleared for hiking. Even though the rest of the trail is beautiful, I think this is not a original hiking trail.

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