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Our 25 fave hikes on the East Coast of Canada

Canada's Maritime provinces are some of the country's most stunning. But, it isn't just about gorgeous ocean views, whale watching and other aquatic pursuits, the Atlantic provinces also offer some of Canada's best-hiking spots. We've combed through trails ranging from novice climbs to mountains best preserved for advanced hikers to come up with 25 of the best places to hike in the Maritimes.

Grab your gear and get out there! 

 

Black Head Path

Hiking Time: 1-2 hours

Distance: 3.7km

The Black Head Path in Newfoundland would be a novice trail if it weren't for the elements. Because of this trail's location, wind, rain, and other weather tend to be harsher than average. If you decide to trek to Black Head, make sure to pack for the weather and dress in layers (proper hiking boots are necessary). Older kids can enjoy this trail as well as intermediate hikers. You'll see lighthouses, experience cliffs, and have the opportunity to enjoy some breathtaking views. The website for this path is sometimes updated here.

Black Head Path, Newfoundland (Photo credit: Barrett & MacKay Photo)

 

Fundy Footpath

Hiking Time: 4-5 days

Distance: 50km

Although this iconic multi-day hike is one of the tops in the province of New Brunswick and is considered by many to be one of the best in the entire world, so it is worth it to take note, make a plan, and tackle this challenging beauty when proper preparations have been made, which must include essentials such as navigational aids since cell service is unavailable in spots. The Fundy Footpath, complete with stunning lookouts, beaches and waterfalls, runs almost 50 kilometres from Big Salmon River Road to Fundy National Park.

 

Greenwich Dunes Trail

Hiking Time: 4 hours 

Distance: 4.8km

Walking over a floating boardwalk is a surreal feeling that you have to experience at least once. Greenwich Dunes Trail on Prince Edward Island is not only a beautiful trail to climb, but it's also one of the few tracks you'll find with a boardwalk that floats over the water. This trail is well maintained and is not complicated, making it ideal for kids, beginner hikers, and seniors. Some weather conditions may impact the dunes' opening hours, so check the site before you go. 

 

Cape Split Trail

Hiking Time: 4-5 hours

Distance: 8km

Nova Scotia's Cape Split is an eight-km trail, and a 16-kilometre trail if you make the full loop. Either way, it's a popular hiking trail despite its length because it offers incredible views. You'll see a panoramic view of the Bay of Fundy and experience the ocean air as you trek through the maintained paths. This trail can be tricky during the fall and winter months because it can get a bit muddy, but otherwise, it's an easy trail to explore. You will want to be on the lookout for any trail closures and notifications before you go. 

 

Skyline Trail

Hiking Time: 2-3 hours

Distance: 6.5km

The Skyline Trail at Cape Breton Highlands National Park is an easy climb and is worth checking out if you are a beginner hiker or want to get the kids outside. Viewing decks offer an overview of the St. Lawrence, where whales love to play. The trail is well maintained and is a beautiful way to spend a warmer day. There are quite a few steps integrated into the Skyline trail, making it one of the more accessible hikes on this list. For more details, check out the park website here. 

Skyline Trail (Cape Breton Highlands National Park

 

Clyburn Valley Trail

Hiking Time: 3-4 hours

Distance: 8km

This Cape Breton trail is unique because it is built on top of an abandoned gold mine. The fact that you'll be walking on part of history is a good enough reason to go to Clyburn Valley, but the trail itself also offers some exciting elements. Lots of giant boulders line the path and provide plenty of picnic spots in addition to some great rocks to climb for a better view of the area surrounding the valley. Kids love this hike, and it's also fun for adults. Visit the park website before you go to make sure the trail is open and accessible. 

 

Walton Glen Gorge

Hiking Time: 4 hours

Distance: 4km

This beautiful trail in New Brunswick winds down a gorge and along a stream to a gorgeous waterfall. It's easy in some spots but moves into more risky terrain over rocks when approaching the 44-metre Walton Glen Falls. The hike proceeds through a narrow 10-metre rocky gap dubbed the Eye of the Needle where hikers would need to wade through water to keep heading along the Little Salmon River towards the Fundy Footpath. Stunning stuff.  For further information go here. 

 

Liberty Lake Trail (Kejimkujik National Park)

Hiking Time: 7-8 hours

Distance: 12km 

Sometimes a walk around a large and gorgeous lake is what's needed, and Nova Scotia's Liberty Lake Trail doesn't disappoint. With views you'd expect from a 12km lake trail, this hike is easy enough to navigate but powerfully delivers on scenery and serenity. Plan to spend the day hiking through Liberty Lake, and don't rush -- there are plenty of places to stop for a picnic along the way. You can find more details about this hike here.

 

Pennant Point Trail, Crystal Crescent Beach

Hiking Time: 4.5km

Distance: 3 hours 

Grab your pup and head to Pennant Point Trail, located in Crystal Crescent Beach. This trail loops around Crystal Crescent and touches upon some of Nova Scotia's loveliest beaches, allowing you to explore the beach areas during the offseason. The trail is open during the fall and winter and the warmer spring and summer months. Since Pennant Point is a well-maintained loop, you can easily traverse this trail when the snow starts to fall. For a trail map and other details, visit the main site here

 

Coastal Trail (Terra Nova National Park)

Hiking Time: 2-3 hours

Distance: 9.5km

The Coastal Trail at Terra Nova National Park is a popular option, but one that's worth checking out for the jellyfish you'll see floating in the water below the highest peak. The Coastal Trail isn't rugged and doesn't require any serious hiking gear, but it has a few steep climbs that you'll need some skills to traverse. Intermediate hikers will fare well with this trail, but you will want to check for opening details on the site before you go. Warning: the path is open to hunters throughout the year, so make sure to wear bright gear! 

Photo: Parks Canada / Dale Wilson

 

Salt Marsh Trail (Halifax)

Hiking Time: 6-7 hours

Distance: 8.7km

Salt marshes, wooded areas, and a gorgeous boardwalk make this well-traversed trail a fan favourite. Even though the trail itself isn't an incredibly challenging trek, it is still one worth doing if you happen to live in Halifax. The course used to be a railroad and is now a national park that's popular with people of all ages. This is a trail you can explore if you are new to hiking and enjoy it if you are experienced. 

 

Osprey Trail

Hiking Time: 1.5-2 hours

Distance: 5km

Looking for a place to get away from it all, and commune with nature, it might be hard to beat this lovely and easy hike at New Brunswick's Kouchibouguac National Park. This forested trail goes through a pretty forest with interesting tree species before hitting the lagoon and saltwater marsh area of the Black River Peninsula, a birder's paradise where hikes will have a chance to spot birds including osprey, of course, and bald eagles diving for fish.

 

Duncan's Cove, Chebucto Peninsula

Hiking Time: 5 hours

Distance: 8km

We love hikes off the beaten path, and Duncan's Cove in the Chebucto Peninsula doesn't disappoint. Since this trail is located on a wildlife preserve, it is unmarked and nowhere near maintained, which means you have to hike cautiously. You'll encounter rocks (lots of them) and some treacherous footing near the coastline. Despite being a rugged hike (definitely not for kids or beginners), it's a path worth taking for the breathtaking views alone. We advise you to look at the government website before you go, and it might be best to avoid this trail during the winter months as the rocks can get slippery. 

 

Woodland Trail, Sable River

Hiking Time: 7-8 hours 

Distance: 10km

It's hard to live near or in Sable River and not be an avid hiker. This part of Nova Scotia is home to numerous trails and great day hikes that are mostly accessible to all skill levels. The Woodland Trail is on the longer side at 10km, but it's not a strenuous hike because it's well maintained. You'll cross bridges and forests on the hike and may see a lot of all-road vehicles and bicycles as the trail is a multi-use trail and not strictly reserved for hikers. For more information, visit this page

 

Point Pleasant Park (Halifax)

Hiking Time: varies 

Distance: varies 

If you live in Halifax and want to step into nature for a few hours, all you have to do is visit Point Pleasant Park. This park is located on the south side of Halifax and boasts more than 39km of trails to explore. You can find trails in the park that range from advanced to beginner and offer ideal picnic spots. Because Point Pleasant is a city park, it is well-maintained and marked with facilities throughout the park. Check the site before you go to make sure that the park is open and accessible. 

 

Cape Spear Path

Hiking Time: 10 hours

Distance: 3-4km

If you're in the mood for a longer hike that will challenge your endurance, Newfoundland's Cape Spear is a great option. This trail winds through rugged terrain, hills, and cliffs. You'll also have to get across a bog and cross over two rivers, so this isn't a trail for beginners of the faint of heart, but it is a climb worth exploring if you love a challenge. Check the site before you go to make sure the trail is open. 

Cape Spear (Photo credit: Newfoundland and Labrador Tourism)

 

Cape Split Trail 

Hiking Time: 11 hours 

Distance: 13km

Pretty much anywhere you hike in Nova Scotia, you'll find amazing coastal views, but some hikes afford better views than others, and that's the category in which we find Cape Split. This trail traverses through wooded areas that seem unimpressive until you're standing at the top of a 60-metre cliff overlooking the ocean — it doesn't get better than that! Plan to spend some time at the top, and don't rush back, but check the website before you go. 

 

Balancing Rock

Hiking Time: 1-2 hours 

Distance: 3km 

If you ask anyone living in Nova Scotia about sights to see, you'll likely be directed to Balancing Rock. This trail's claim to fame is a rock that is curiously balanced on top of another rock — by all laws of nature, the top rock should fall with any gust of wind, but it does not. Instead, balancing rock simply, well, balances. This isn't a challenging hike or a long one, but it is on this list because it's something you need to see if you are in Nova Scotia and have time for a hike. More details about the rock and its bizarre nature can be found here.

Balancing Rock (Photo: Nova Scotia Tourism)

 

Dunelands Trail

Hiking Time: under 1 hour

Distance: 2.3km 

This charming and short hike from Cavendish Beach to the Oceanview Lookout at Prince Edward Island National Park is all about the views and the stunning Cavendish Beach on the province's western shore. Basically, the trail runs on a boardwalk through tall grasses, alongside a pond and the sand dunes that are some of the loveliest anywhere in the country. Think red rocks, driftwood and ocean, quite a stunning combination. 

 

Gaff Point Trail 

Hiking Time: 5-6 hours 

Distance: 6.5km

Most hikes that are near the seaside start with a forest trail and end overlooking the ocean. That's not quite what the Gaff Point Trail does, even though it is a coastal hike. This trail begins on the beach and then winds through a wooded area before looping back to the sea. Gaff Point is kind of like a 'choose your own adventure' book and offers two trail options: you can choose to follow the shoreline or take the path through the woods. Either way, you'll wind up overlooking the ocean at some point.  

 

Blomidon Provincial Park

Hiking Time: varies

Distance: varies 

Blomidon Park has many trails to explore, but this park also boasts rock formations that seem only comparable to those you'd find in the western part of the United States (mostly Arizona). If you choose to explore this park (and we suggest that you do!), you'll find that it offers a quiet escape from life while also showcasing some of the best hiking and climbing trails we've found in the area. To see what we're talking about and look at a park map, visit this website.

 

Gros Morne Mountain Trail

Hiking Time: 8 hours or longer

Distance: 16km

Experienced hikers seeking a challenge should head to Gros Morne Mountain Trail. This trail is rocky (literally filled with rocks) and can be difficult for people not used to walking or climbing on moving rocks. The peak of Gros Morne is 806m above sea level and offers panoramic views of the mountain ranges surrounding the trail. If you have a few hours to kill and want to feel inspired by the world around you, Gros Morne is a great option. 

Gros Morne trail (Photo credit: Barrett & MacKay Photo)

 

Confederation Trail

Hiking Time: varies

Distance: 449km 

This epic and varied trail stretches the entirety of Prince Edward Island and is part of Canada's Great Trail. It's built on an abandoned rail line and like many such trails has numerous side trails and adventures along the way and can be biked or hiked in various parts. The main Confederation Trail stretches from Tignish to Elmira, 273 kilometres away.

 

Gypsum Mine Trail

Hiking Time: 30-60 mins

Distance: 3-4km 

The Gypsum Mine Trail is not one of the most popular trails in Nova Scotia, but we think it should be. A quick walk (30 minutes or so) will bring you to a crystal clear swimming hole surrounded by rock formations. If you've ever wanted to jump into cool water without a care in the world, this is the place to go on a hot summer day. You will have to climb a steep hillside using a rope, but that's part of the fun. You can also explore the path in the wintertime but watch out for snowmobiles.  

 

Cabot Trail 

Hiking Time: varies

Distance: varies

You can pick any trail in Cape Breton and find spectacular ocean views, but we are particularly fond of the Cabot Trail. You'll see the ocean for miles after trekking up some rocky pathways that are moderately maintained. This trail is easy enough for intermediate hikers, and advanced trekkers will find it challenging enough as well. You can choose to hike the entire trail or pieces of it, depending on the amount of time that you have. The trail's main website provides details about the path, closures, weather, and other facts. 

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