Canada’s East Coast is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, with its rugged coastlines, charming fishing villages and stunning natural beauty. From Nova Scotia‘s picturesque shores to the lush boreal forests of Newfoundland and Labrador, the Maritimes are a paradise for hikers seeking adventure and awe-inspiring views. If you’re looking to explore some East Coast hikes, here are seven must-try trails that will leave you spellbound.
Cape Chignecto Coastal Trail, Nova Scotia
Situated in a provincial park, the Cape Chignecto Coastal Trail is a challenging 52-kilometre trek that showcases the stunning coastal cliffs, hidden coves, and panoramic vistas of the Bay of Fundy. If you want to complete the full shoreline loop, camp for three nights or you can go just for the day and treat a portion of the hike as an in-and-out trail. Hikers will navigate diverse ecosystems, including old-growth forests, towering sea stacks, and pristine beaches. With breathtaking sunsets and opportunities for wildlife sightings, this hike is an unforgettable adventure for experienced trekkers.
Gros Morne Mountain, Newfoundland and Labrador
Gros Morne National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site renowned for its remarkable geological features and striking landscapes. The Gros Morne Mountain hike offers a demanding ascent to the second-highest peak in Newfoundland. It rewards hikers with sweeping views of fjords, glacier-carved valleys, and vast Tablelands. This strenuous hike is a true testament to the raw beauty of the East Coast and is a must for any outdoor adventurer. If the 17-kilometre trek to the summit seems too intense, there are shorter options among the 100 kilometres of unforgettable trails within this magical park.
Skyline Trail, Nova Scotia
Located in Cape Breton Highlands National Park, the Skyline Trail is a popular and easily accessible hike that offers breathtaking views of the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The 8.2-kilometre loop trail takes you along the rugged coastline, through lush forests, and onto a boardwalk that leads to an iconic cliffside viewpoint overlooking the vast expanse of the Atlantic Ocean. Keep your eyes peeled for signs of whales off of the coast. This easy-rated hike provides a glimpse into the region’s stunning natural heritage.
East Coast Trail, Newfoundland and Labrador
The East Coast Trail is a network of 25 coastal paths spanning over 336 kilometres along the rugged eastern coastline of Newfoundland and Labrador. Offering a variety of trail sections, each with its own unique charm, hikers can explore sea cliffs, sea stacks, lighthouses, and hidden coves. From the wave-powered geyser in the centre of Spout Path to the waterfall and rocky sea arch along the Spurwink Island Path to the most eastern point of Canada located on Cape Spear Path, there is no shortage of magical surprises for eager hikers.
Fundy National Park, New Brunswick
Nestled along the Bay of Fundy, known for having the highest tides in the world, Fundy National Park boasts an array of picturesque hiking trails. From easy strolls to more difficult hikes in more than 100 kilometres of trails, the park offers something for everyone. The Laverty Falls Trail takes you through a lush forest to a cascading waterfall and swimming hole, while the Matthews Head Trail treats you to views of the rugged coastline and a towering sea stack. Be sure to check the tidal schedule for a unique coastal experience. When the giant tides recede, you can explore endless mudflats where sea creatures make their home along the ocean floor.
Sable Island, Nova Scotia
For a truly off-the-beaten-path adventure, set your sights on Sable Island, a remote and pristine isle off the coast of Nova Scotia. The island’s rugged beauty is matched only by its sense of isolation, as it stands alone in the vast Atlantic Ocean. You may encounter the iconic wild Sable Island horses grazing among the grassy patches. You can reach the island by air or sea on either a fully-guided or partially-guided tour, many of which include a hike. The experience of visiting this secluded paradise is a truly unforgettable journey into nature’s unspoiled majesty.
Greenwich Dunes Trail, Prince Edward Island
A unique coastal desert landscape of parabolic sand dunes is hidden in Prince Edward Island National Park. You’ll step into an environment rich in cultural heritage, where diverse cultures have existed on the island for over 10,000 years, as well as a place of stunning natural beauty with pristine beaches and various hiking trails to explore. Greenwich Dunes Trail runs through homestead fields and over a floating boardwalk to the majestic sight of ever-changing sand dunes.
Want to explore breathtaking East Coast hikes?
Book an appointment with a CAA Travel Consultant to start planning your East Coast trip or call 1-800-267-8713.