Ever felt the urge to hike across Canada? No, not hitchhike but regular hike -- or bike or run or maybe even ski. You're in luck.
Next year, a trans-Canada trail called the Great Trail will open, winding nonstop between Canadian coasts. It will become the world's longest recreational trail, reports ZME Science, so you might want to start warming up now.
Nearly 13,000 miles of the roughly 14,894-mile-long trail have already been completed since construction began 25 years ago. An official map shows it will connect hundreds of community trails from St. John's in Newfoundland and Labrador westward toward Edmonton. There, it splits into a crazy loop up through the Northwest Territories and back down through the Yukon before continuing west to Victoria on Vancouver Island.
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Four out of five Canadians live within half an hour of the trail, the Trans Canada Trail site says. Top activities are hiking, cycling, paddling, horseback riding and, seasonally, cross-country skiing and snowmobiling. ZME Science's Mihai Andrei pointed out that the trail hasn't been universally welcomed, though. It sparked complaints from bikers over challenging navigation. Plus, environmental groups expressed concern over the trail affecting natural habitats.
An additional challenge: The management team saved some of the hardest trail work for the end. Many of the remaining miles left to create are in unpopulated areas with difficult terrain, according to the Trans Canada Trail FAQ.
Andrei also doesn't imagine there will be many volunteers wanting to do the whole thing but, after seeing how ultra-runners pursue insanely long trails, I expect there will be several itching to become the first.
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Knowing the trail is nearly done made me think of the eccentric ultra-marathoner Al Howie, who passed away over the summer at age 70. It took him just two months to run across Canada in 1991, and he was back out again a couple weeks later for the brutal 1,300-mile Sri Chinmoy Race.
In their obit, the Globe and Mail described Howie's feats as outlandish and called his distances covered "so outrageous as to be comical." Sounds like the Great Trail might be just the ticket for a new generation.