Exploring the Canol Trail, Canada's most rewarding walk

Take a trail into some truly rugged and untamed wilderness on the Canol Trail, in Canada's Northwest Territories

Exploring the Canol Trail, Canada's most rewarding walk

The Canol Trail is the longest, toughest hiking trail in North America, cutting a path through the world's last great mountain range. It's a walk in the footsteps of history, where hardened men performed an even harder mission.

It's a journey inward – to a part of you that you never knew was there. It's wandering beyond the farthest horizon, and getting to the heart of it all.  

Here are six reasons why the Canol Trail is the most remarkable experience you can have on two feet:

A string of historic WWII relics awaits on the Canol Trail in Canada's Northwest Territories.

Historic Structures

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 you'll find relics from the war, like Quonset huts such as those above ...

Old military barracks along the Canol Trail, a legendary hike through Canada's Northwest Territories.

... and old military barracks like this one ...

Explore old WWII-era relics along the Canol Trail in Canada's Northwest Territories.

... which you can explore and maybe even bunk down in to get out of the weather.

Carcajou Falls along the Canol Trail in Canada's Northwest Territories.

Waterfalls

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 Northland, and it's almost never visited ...

Carcajou Falls along the Canol Trail in Canada's Northwest Territories.

... except by lucky adventurers like you.

The Canol Trail is sprinkled with canyons carved into the land.

Canyons

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 ...

Ancient hoodoos carved by the elements along the Canol Trail in Canada's Northwest Territories

... with walls featuring spires and hoodoos that would make Arizona proud.

Old trucks from the 1940s line the Canol Trail, relics from the era the road went in.

Old vehicles

Army trucks and tractors from the 1940s line the Canol route.

Old trucks from the 1940s line the Canol Trail, in Canada's Northwest Territories, relics from the era the road went in.

It's like hiking through an outdoor museum, memorializing the monumental efforts of the war.

Old trucks from the 1940s line the Canol Trail, relics from the era the road went in.

The machines bear messages from a bygone era, which adventure-seekers like you can decipher ...

Old trucks from the 1940s line the Canol Trail, relics from the era the road went in.

... when you decide to stop and rest awhile.

Dall's Sheep along the Canol Trail in Canada's Northwest Territories.

Wildlife

These Dall's Sheep have likely never seen a human being living in such remote and pristine lands ...
 

Caribou along the Canol Trail, an epic hike in Canada's Northwest Territories

... 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. 

The views and wildlife and history along the Canol Trail, in Canada's Northwest Territories, make it a photographer's paradise

The views

On the Canol, sometimes you have to get face-to-face with the landscape to appreciate its elaborate details...

The views and wildlife and history along the Canol Trail, in Canada's Northwest Territories, make it a photographer's paradise

... and other times it pays to take the long view, marvelling at the scope of it all.

However you look at the Canol, it will change the way you experience life. You will never be the same again.

Most hikers take three weeks for the whole trail and leave from Norman Wells. For more about this walk on the wild side, explore the Canol Trail.

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