Mike Shaw
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Running
16 of the best Canadian running trails that are accessible to all
From coast to coast, here are some easily accessible trails to train on for this year’s Wings For Life World Run.
By Ilanna Barkusky
Published on
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Wings for Life World Run

International
Canada’s reputation for outdoor recreation is well-known, from the Western shores of Vancouver Island all the way to the Maritimes. Winding through lakes, forests, and mountains, there are endless possibilities to explore while you get your heart rate going at the same time. Some trails are world-famous, and for good reason -- they can be enjoyed by all. We’ve rounded up our top picks spanning the country, along with all the information you need to know regarding distances, elevation, and accessibility.
With the Wings For Life World Run just around the corner on May 9th, consider this your go-to reference for local spots to train. If you’re looking for some guidance on where to get started on your workout plan, we’ve got you covered. It’s got all the information you’ll need to get revved up to run with purpose and raise funds to find a cure for spinal cord injury. In advance of race day, continue reading for some of our favourite spots to put in the prep work, and don’t forget to download the WFL app which will let you take part anywhere you choose.
01

British Columbia

Stanley Park Seawall, Vancouver

  • Distance: 28 km
  • Elevation: 69 m
  • Accessibility: Fully paved
As the world’s longest uninterrupted waterfront path, the Stanley Park Seawall is the go-to spot to stay active for many city-dwelling locals who call Vancouver home. The full Seaside Gateway trail stretches 28 km from Downtown all the way to Spanish Banks Park on the west side of the city. You can choose how far you go, as the whole trail is fully paved. The pathway features lots of space for everyone with mixed and separated sections. The 69 m elevation gain is minimal while you take in one-of-a-kind views of the mountains, ocean and skyline that make the city so unique.
Depending on where you want to start and finish, you’ll want to budget anywhere upwards of two hours for this easygoing option.

Valley Trail, Whistler

  • Distance: 40 km
  • Elevation: 348 m
  • Accessibility: Fully paved
Whistler’s Valley Trail is a classic for locals and visitors alike. Connecting the southernmost neighbourhood of Function Junction up to beautiful Green Lake and the surrounding community of Emerald, it spans 40 km of paved trail and boardwalk. Weaving through the forest and passing glacially fed lakes, this is a picturesque choice for runners located in Sea-to-Sky country.
Depending on how far you choose to go, you can spend a few hours or more weaving around shorter loops such as the Village to Rainbow Park or Creekside to the Lakes (both 6.4 km return), or go the full distance across town. Some sections are also lit, so you can train at different times of the day.

Grasslands Loop, Kamloops

  • Distance: 1.4 km
  • Elevation: 30 m
  • Accessibility: Packed gravel, barrier free
Located in the South Central BC interior in the town of Kamloops, this loop was repurposed and reopened in 2017. Now featuring a packed gravel trail that is accessible to all, the upgraded version is wider, smoother and more stable for wheelchair access.
With a minor elevation gain of 30 m and a shorter distance of 1.4 km, this is an easier trail that is good for a quick run amongst the wildflowers and mountain views. Taking around half an hour to complete, it's a good spot to squeeze in some time outside even when you’re on-the-go.

Northstar Rails to Trails, Cranbrook/Kimberley

  • Distance: 25 km
  • Elevation: 507 m
  • Accessibility: Fully paved
Linking the interior BC mountain towns of Cranbook and Kimberley together, this trail features stunning views of the Purcell and Rocky Mountains and is broken up by lakes and rivers. Clocking in at 25 km, the entirety of the trail is paved, featuring a mix of uphill and downhill sections with an elevation gain of 507 m.
This option is lightly used due to its more remote location and is rated at a moderate level of difficulty. If you’re going the distance from point-to-point, you’ll want to set aside most of the day at around 7 hours to get it done.
02

Alberta

Banff Legacy Trail

  • Distance: 22.3 km
  • Elevation: 30 m
  • Accessibility: Fully paved pathway and parkway
Built in honour of Banff National Park’s 125th anniversary, the Banff Legacy Trail is a combination of paved pathway and parkway that stretches 22.3 km from the East Gate all the way to the Bow Valley Parkway. Part of the Rocky Mountain Legacy Trail that links two of Canada’s favourite mountain towns in Banff and Canmore, there is a 30 m elevation gain from start to finish.
You will want to set aside around 3 hours to complete this trail as you weave through the heart of the Canadian Rockies. This trail is in it’s best condition from mid-April to mid-October, which means it is a perfect match to get in some last-minute training for the Wings For Life World Run.

Fort Edmonton Park Loop Trail

  • Distance: 4.6 km
  • Elevation: 117 m
  • Accessibility: First section fully paved, second section packed gravel
This 4.6 km loop is found in the city of Edmonton, conveniently located 15 minutes away from the downtown area and 10 minutes from the infamous West Edmonton Mall. With 117 m of elevation gain, it has a minimal incline that winds around the wooded parkland in the city’s river valley. Within a trail system that is made up of paved routes, the park is in its best shape from May until October.
The relatively flat grade of the Fort Edmonton Park Loop Trail makes it an easy choice suitable for everyone. For the full loop, you’ll want to set aside an hour and a half to complete this one.
03

Saskatchewan

Prince Albert Rotary Trail

  • Distance: 8.4 km
  • Elevation: 267 m
  • Accessibility: Paved, 10 feet wide
Found around the perimeter of Saskatchewan’s third largest city is the paved Prince Albert Rotary Loop Trail. Winding around a river, it is in pristine condition to be used year-round and is cleared of snow in winter. With the majority of the route being at least 10 feet wide, it's a great option for all.
With many entry and exit points, you can choose how far you’d like to go, although the full trail will take around 6 hours. With very limited elevation gain spread out over a longer distance, this trail is rated at an easier level of difficulty.
04

Manitoba

Duff Roblin Parkway

  • Distance: 5 km
  • Elevation: 59 m
  • Accessibility: Paved
Situated on the outskirts of Winnipeg near the town of Springfield, this multi-use out-and-back option offers 5 km of forested and paved trail. It is a part of the local Bird Hill Provincial Park with a limited elevation gain of 59 m, making it a great option to get outdoors and away from the city.
Best suited for a shorter training session for all activity levels, it will take you around an hour and a half to complete. The Duff Roblin Parkway is best used from the spring to fall months from March until October.
05

Ontario

Humber River Recreation Trail

  • Distance: 8 km
  • Elevation: 66 m
  • Accessibility: Fully paved, gentle grade
Clocking in at a little over 8 km is Toronto’s Humber Park Recreation Trail. Following a river, the trail surface is entirely paved with plenty of space and is rated a moderate level of difficulty. Its grade is mostly gentle, maxing out at 5% with an elevation gain of 66 m.
Taking around 2 hours to complete, it is a perfect training ground amidst Canada’s biggest city. Bonus points if you like to take your four-legged friend with you on your runs, as it is dog friendly.

East Don Parkland Trail

  • Distance: 11 km
  • Elevation: 78 m
  • Accessibility: Partially paved, sections where a motorized wheelchair may be required
Accessible all year round in the city of Markham just outside Toronto is the East Don Parkland Trail. With an elevation gain of 78 m spread out across a little under 11 km, this out-and-back trail is a perfect match for all skill levels.
This is a popular spot for good reason, and you’ll even score views of a waterfall along the way, which will take you to start to finish in a little under 2 hours. While the entirety of the trail is not paved, motorized wheelchairs will be able to access the full distance.

Waterfront Trail

  • Distance: 17.2 km
  • Elevation: 99 m
  • Accessibility: Paved trail surface, at least six feet wide at all points
Waterfront Trail, accessed via Duffins Creek is a popular out-and-back trail located close to the town of Ajax in Southern Ontario. This option winds along the shores of Lake Ontario for a little over 17 km. With a fairly gentle grade under 5 percent for a majority of the route, it is a perfect choice for all skill levels.
The trail surface is fully paved for the entire duration of the path, and is also six feet wide from start to finish. From beginning to end, you'll be in for around a four hour trip.
06

Quebec

Mount Royal, Montreal

  • Distance: 6.6 km
  • Elevation: 156 m
  • Accessibility: Paved roadway
A popular multi-use trail for Montreal residents and visitors alike, this trail is a must-do and offers a spot to train for all. At the top, you’ll be treated to breathtaking 360 degree views of the city to reward you for the finish. There is a large trail system set up that allows for easy access to the mountain year-round.
One option that is also wheelchair friendly is the Olmsted Road trail, although there are a variety of routes to choose from. With a relatively gentle elevation gain spread out over 6.6 kms of distance, this is an easy and quick option to squeeze in before you continue on with the rest of your day.

Îles-de-Boucherville National Park

  • Distance: 26.6 km
  • Elevation: 39 m
  • Accessibility: Fully paved
Located close to Boucherville, Quebec in the suburbs of Montreal, this national park features an entirely paved 26.6 km loop that is always in season. Following along a lake and weaving through the marshes, it is a worthy city escape. The entirety of the trail is paved or gravel, and is a minimum of six feet wide at all times, making it entirely wheelchair accessible.
With a minimal elevation gain of 39 m, this is a perfect training spot to work your way up to longer outings. If you’re planning to complete the entire loop, you’ll want to set aside around 6 hours to go the distance.

Grand Tour Circuit, Yamaska National Park

  • Distance: 18 km
  • Elevation: 102 m
  • Accessibility: Fully paved
Off to the east of Montreal, you’ll find the town of Granby -- home to the Grand Tour Circuit, a quiet and lightly used loop trail. Located within Yamaska National Park, this option spans an 18 km distance with 102 m in elevation gain. Winding around a lake, it is relatively flat which makes it a great choice for all skill levels.
The trail is fully paved from beginning to end, making the entirety of the loop accessible for wheelchair users. You’ll want to allocate around 4 hours to make your way around and take in all the sights.
07

Nova Scotia

Chain of Lakes Trail, Halifax

  • Distance: 13.7 km
  • Elevation: 134 m
  • Accessibility: Fully paved
Entirely paved, this popular multi-use out-and-back trail is located in Halifax and spans a length of 13.7 km. With an elevation gain of 134 m, it falls on the moderate side of difficulty and is the perfect spot to stay active in the city.
The entirety of the trail will take around 3 hours, as you pass by a lake and traverse from one side of town to the other. There are numerous lakeside look-offs for when you need to catch your breath, with this trail providing an escape from city life while still staying conveniently within its limits.
08

Prince Edward Island

Gulf Shore Parkway

  • Distance: 26.6 km
  • Elevation: 261 m
  • Accessibility: Fully paved
Only 30 minutes outside the capital of Charlottetown, this multi-use out-and-back trail on PEI weaves its way around the island’s northern side. Fully paved with some gentle rolling hills, it is rated a moderate level of difficulty, and suited for everyone.
Following along the coastline of red sandstone cliffs, you’ve got views for miles before ending at Cavendish Beach. Not only that, but this spot provides accessible beach access and beach wheelchairs for rent if you’re looking to get into the ocean after finishing your journey. You’ll want to budget at least a half day to complete the trail and take in the sights.
Want to join Team Coast2Coast as they aim to collectively run the 5,500 km across Canada? Here’s how:
  1. Register before May 9th, 2021
  2. Then, join #TeamCoast2Coast on the app to join the effort
The Wings for Life World Run takes place on May 9. All funds raised go directly to finding a cure for spinal cord research. Donate and register at: WingsForLifeWorldRun.com
Part of this story

Wings for Life World Run

International