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The Canol Trail is the longest, toughest hiking trail in North America, cutting a path through the world's last great mountain range. It follows the footsteps of history, where hardened men performed an even harder mission.
Here are five things that make the Canol Trail so remarkable.
Starting at the Northwest Territories border, the Canol strikes out through the Mackenzie Mountains, carrying backpackers 355 foot-wearying, eye-popping, soul-stirring kilometres. The trail follows the defunct Canol Road and Pipeline – a wildly ambitious effort during the Second World War to pump gas from Norman Wells to the allied forces on the Pacific Front. Today the pipe is long gone and the "road" is an overgrown path. But all along the way, there are relics from the war like Quonset huts such as those above ...
... and old military barracks like this one.
Carcajou Falls is a jewel of the Canol, splashing over a stony escarpment and sending spray into the mountain air. It's considered one of the most idyllic waterfalls in the North...
... and certainly one of the most remote.
Then there's famous Dodo Canyon. Like a bit of the Desert Southwest transported to the Arctic Circle, it's a red-rock badlands – a deep, scenic gulch carved out by a meandering river ...
... with walls featuring spires and hoodoos that would make Arizona proud.
Army trucks and tractors from the 1940s line the Canol route.
It's like a trail that winds through an outdoor museum, memorializing the monumental efforts of the war.
The machines bear messages from a bygone era.
These Dall's Sheep have likely never seen a human being living in such remote and pristine lands ...
... nor have these Alpine Caribou. The fact is, wildlife still rules the roost along the Canol Trail. This is nature at its most unperturbed, thriving much like it did 500 or 5,000 years ago.