22 Adventures in Canada That Are Bucket List Worthy

Canoeing the Churchill River

Wondering what outdoor adventures in Canada to do this summer? These 22 bucket list worthy adventures in Canada – two in each province except for PEI and one in each of the northern territories should give you plenty of fresh ideas.

I’ve personally tested all of these adventures in Canada but picking a favourite would be nearly impossible. It depends on the weather, the company, the season – along with a little je ne sais quoi.

Adventures in British Columbia, Canada

Bike the Gulf Islands

It’s hard to beat island hopping by ferry with your bike.

All offer a mix of beautiful coastal scenery, beaches, farmer’s markets, galleries and wineries.

A stop on Galiano Island to check out the view
A stop on Galiano Island to check out the view

Hike the Iceline Trail in Yoho National Park

Superb views of Takakkaw Falls along with the mountains and glaciers of the Yoho Valley will take your breath away.

And if you’re willing to climb 690 m to the high point on the trail – the amphitheater at the base of Emerald Glacier, then your reward is expansive vistas of three peaks – the Vice President, Whaleback and Isolated Peak.

22 Must Do Outdoor Adventures in Canada
Views on the Iceline Trail

Alberta Outdoor Adventures

Bike up Highwood Pass, Kananaskis Country

If you were climbing from the King Creek Trailhead, part of the road would be Category 1 – the steepest grade on the Tour de France climb.

But barring a one way ride, the cycle up and back to the pass from either direction makes a marvelous day trip.

Only those with great stamina should consider the full return ride. This road is closed to cars until June 15th so it’s one of Alberta’s great early season bike rides. Be bear aware as this is grizzly country.

Biking up Highwood Pass
Biking up Highwood Pass

Paddle Maligne Lake in Jasper National Park

Maligne Lake is beautiful – turquoise coloured and ringed by mountains with a couple of glaciers to add drama. It’s also home to Spirit Island – one of the most photographed spots in the world. And it’s got wildlife aplenty.

The campgrounds are busy in the summer – but paddling Maligne Lake is worth it for the drama and beauty it delivers.

22 Must Do Outdoor Adventures in Canada
Paddling Maligne Lake one of the top adventures in Canada but be warned – storms can blow in quickly

Saskatchewan outdoor adventures

Canoe the Churchill River

No matter what route you take, you’ll paddle through fabulous Canadian Shield landscapes, camp on rocky islands and enjoy a solitude rarely experienced these days.

You should be comfortable portaging and canoeing through Class II and III rapids.

Don’t expect to see a lot of wildlife but do expect to catch your own dinner if you’re a few portages out from Missinipe. Contact Ric, the expert on the area at Churchill River Outfitters for ideas of what works with your paddling ability and time frame.

22 Must Do Outdoor Adventures in Canada
A stunning place to watch the storm blow in on the Churchill River

Hike the Boreal Trail

Be awed by huge swaths of aspen interspersed with bands of pine and spruce trees and look for examples of the area’s glacial past. Wander up and down eskers – long, sinuous ridges of sand and gravel, past numerous kettle lakes that are perfect for swimming in the summer.

Walk old roads and listen to a multitude of birdsong. But always stay alert for wild animals. There is plenty of evidence of their presence. We saw a wolf on a kill.

Starting the Boreal Trail at its western end
Starting the Boreal Trail at its western end in Meadow Lake Provincial Park

Manitoba adventures

Paddle the Caddy Lake Tunnels in Whiteshell Provincial Park

Two tunnels were built around the turn of the twentieth century by both the CN and CP Railways. You paddle through them, hoping that the water level isn’t too high or you’ll have to portage over the railway! 

The first tunnel is located about 2.4 kilometres from the Green Bay Resort, the second a further 4.8 kilometres away. The landscape is pretty with lots of Canadian Shield and lakes that are great for swimming.

22 Must Do Outdoor Adventures in Canada
A unique experience canoeing through the Caddy Lake Tunnels

Hike the Spirit Sands – Devil’s Punchbowl Trail

Spruce Woods Provincial Park is the home of the only sand dunes found in Manitoba.

Rising to a height of 30 m, they are a great place to hike, play and photograph, especially in summer when the wildflowers make an appearance. Just beware of the copious amounts of poison ivy that line the forested trails and stairways.

Hiking the Spirit Sands Trail
Hiking the Spirit Sands Trail

Ontario outdoor adventures

Hike the Coastal Trail in Pukaskwa National Park

The hike is incredibly diverse offering everything from steep climbs and slippery descents, mossy forest walking, beautiful sections of rock hopping on the Canadian Shield and nasty ankle turning sections that feel like they go on forever.

Enjoy stunning beach campsites every night, wonderful sunsets, the varied moods of Lake Superior and blueberries galore in season. Plan on a September trip to avoid the bugs.

22 Must Do Outdoor Adventures in Canada
Scenery on the Coastal Trail in Pukaskwa National Park

Canoe in Algonquin Provincial Park

Pick a canoe route to suit your skill level. And then get into the backcountry and enjoy one of the nearly 2,000 campsites – many with drop-dead gorgeous settings on outcrop of Canadian Shield with windswept pine trees, just like a Group of Seven painting.

Another beautiful campsite on Head Lake in Algonquin Park
Another beautiful campsite on Head Lake in Algonquin Park

Quebec Adventures

Hike Les Graves in Forillon National Park

In Grand-Grave, a fishing village in the late 19th and early 20th century, guides dressed in period costumes demonstrate some of what life’s day to day activities looked like back then.

After Grand-Cave, the trail meanders along grassy paths to meadows bursting with wildflowers. Interspersed are pretty, cobble beaches and spectacular views of eroding cliffs.

Near the lighthouse, snag a picnic table with a view of rugged 95 m cliffs. Also look for the zero marker for the Canadian portion of the International Appalachian Trail.

All told it’s an 8-19 km hike depending on where you start.

22 Must Do Outdoor Adventures in Canada
The hiking is truly lovely in Forillon National Park

Paddle in La Mauricie National Park

Paddling in La Mauricie is a great place to learn. It’s family friendly and the water is warm.

Both offer easy paddling if the winds don’t blow up and campsites within a short distance of the launch site. There are also opportunities for extended wilderness trips, starting on either one of these lakes as well, if you don’t mind portaging.

The view down Lac-Bouchard
Beautiful lakes for paddling in La Mauricie National Park

New Brunswick adventures

Bike in Kouchibouguac National Park

The park is considered to be one of the best biking destinations in all of Atlantic Canada. 

Explore salt marshes and bogs as you loop through the park on 60 km of mostly easy and well-signed trails. Stop to admire fields of wildflowers and listen for birdsong in the woods. Stop at Kelly’s Beach at the end of a beautiful boardwalk but because it’s such a great place to swim and relax, time a visit for the end of the day.

Beautiful view of the Kouchibouguac River
Beautiful view of the Kouchibouguac River

Kayak around the Hopewell Rocks

It’s possible to walk the ocean floor at low tide among scenic, eroded rock formations called the flowerpots and then a few hours later kayak in exactly the same spot.

Over those couple of hours you can watch how fast the water rises, on average between 1.2 – 1.8 m per hour.

22 Must Do Outdoor Adventures in Canada
Kayaking around the Hopewell Rocks

Adventures in Canada – Nova Scotia Edition

Hike in Kejimkujik Seaside National Park

Located on the southwest shore of Nova Scotia, the park is a special part of the province that feels untouched by humans – even though it has a long history of habitation.

They can be done individually in just a few hours but it’s also possible to combine them. Highlights include secluded rocky coves, beaches, rugged coastal scenery, wildlife including seals, black bears and sea birds and wildflowers galore. This is a real gem!

22 Must Do Outdoor Adventures in Canada
Beautiful seaside walking in Kejimkujik National Park – but watch for bears

Cycle the Cabot Trail on Cape Breton Island

From Baddeck, the bike ride takes you through the Margaree Valley, home to world class salmon fishing.

Then it’s out to the coast and north through a mix of Acadian and Gaelic towns.

The coastline en route to French speaking Cheticamp is dramatic at times. From Cheticamp, continue north through the spectacular Cape Breton Highlands National Park where you can expect to be physically challenged by two major climbs. 

The east side of the Cabot Trail offers many lovely surprises including beautiful pink, rocky shores, secluded beaches and inspiring vistas.

The road down from Cape Smokey looking south
The road down from Cape Smokey looking south

Prince Edward Island Adventures

You can expect to ride a mix of scenic roads as well as sections of the 273 km long Confederation Trail, an old rail bed that is now a multi-use trail. The roads and trail take you through a patchwork of farmland, past thousands of acres of potatoes fields on gently rolling terrain with occasional coastal sections.

A real treat is the new 10 km multi-use trail along the Gulf Shore Parkway in Prince Edward Island National Park. Allow two days to a week to bike the length of the island.

Easy biking on the Confederation Trail
Easy biking on the Confederation Trail

Newfoundland Adventures

Hike the Skerwink Trail&

It follows the north and south coasts of Skerwink Head, a ruggedly beautiful peninsula separating Port Rexton from Trinity Harbour.

It’s best hiked in a clockwise direction so you can take advantage of the views of Trinity Harbour as you hike south from Skerwink Head.

Over its 5.3 kilometre length you’ll be treated to a coastal landscape filled with sea stacks, sea caves and arches, capelin beaches, bird life, whales, moose and occasionally even icebergs. And you only need a couple of hours!

Gorgeous hiking on the Skerwink Trail
Gorgeous hiking on the Skerwink Trail

Hike up Gros Morne Mountain in Gros Morne National Park

To reach the summit, you must hike for the better part of four hours, and ascend 800 m. The return is no picnic either.

But for incomparable views and the chance to stand on the second highest peak in Newfoundland at 806 m, it’s well worth the effort.

22 Must Do Outdoor Adventures in Canada
The view of Ten Mile Brook Pond

Adventures in Canada – Nunavut version

Backpack in Auyuittuq National Park&

The 8 – 12 day backpacking trip takes you through a powerful landscape of rugged mountains, glaciers, and roaring rivers where only the hardiest of plants and animals survive and where the weather can change in a heartbeat.

You must be self-reliant. The Arctic is an unpredictable place to visit. Some of the highlights on the trek include magnificent mountain vistas, Mount Thor with the highest vertical face in the world, crossing the Arctic Circle, river crossings, wildflowers and a grand sense of space.

22 Must Do Outdoor Adventures in Canada
The stunning turn around point at Akshayuk Pass at Summit Lake

Adventures in Canada – Northwest Territories

Canoe the Cameron River Ramparts to Yellowknife

If you want a taste of canoeing in the Northwest Territories but without the cost of a float plane trip, then check out some excellent canoe routes within approximately an hour of downtown Yellowknife.

All are accessed via Highway 4, otherwise known as the Ingraham Trail. 

If you’re not interested in the possibility of big winds and waves, then you can finish the trip at Powder Point on Prelude Lake. Highlights of this paddle include a side trip to Hidden Lake Territorial Park, fabulous swimming, Cameron Falls, the ramparts, beautiful campsites and lots of bird life.

22 Must Do Outdoor Adventures in Canada
Cameron River Ramparts 

Backpack to Grizzly Lake in the Tombstone Mountains

The trailhead is accessed from the Dempster Highway and is about a seven hour drive from Whitehorse.

This is one of the top backpacking trips in Canada – in my personal top five. Highlights on the 11.5 km one way hike to Grizzly Lake include incredible fall colours come late summer, gorgeous, rugged mountain scenery and plenty of wildlife.

You do need to book campsites in advance. Always carry bear spray for this country is famous for its grizzly bears. (You can get it at the Visitor Centre.)

22 Must Do Outdoor Adventures in Canada
Enjoying a quiet moment at Grizzly Lake

What one of the adventures in Canada most speaks to you?

Click on the photo to bookmark to your Pinterest boards.

22 adventures in Canada that are bucket list worthy

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