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

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:

92 b0e39bba-d054-4ca1-a2f7-6f18d20719eb
A string of historic WWII relics awaits on the Canol Trail in Canada's Northwest Territories.

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 ...

86 dca010c2-4f6a-4537-ad3e-5cdffbab7425
Old military barracks along the Canol Trail, a legendary hike through Canada's Northwest Territories.

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

9 055ff08f-0c39-4501-bd41-e7d1d4d84419
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.

18 a7f4612d-57b7-4e29-9882-c036abf2fca0
Carcajou Falls along the Canol Trail in Canada's Northwest Territories.

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 ...

38 839e91b9-dab7-4d75-940c-c0a6d4c7dbc6
Carcajou Falls along the Canol Trail in Canada's Northwest Territories.

... except by lucky adventurers like you.

8 0d9287ea-2507-4ba3-ae05-505cc8234fde
The Canol Trail is sprinkled with canyons carved into the land.

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 ...

33 6b962546-eedd-42fc-b75e-70dc4edaddad
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.

13 a98cecc8-c890-476b-b580-878c9d019c61
Old trucks from the 1940s line the Canol Trail, relics from the era the road went in.

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

13 3ec78b66-5f84-4e91-92c9-f9e5f7e4f5e0
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.

17 abbee587-dfb0-46bf-8df0-46d5de58b2a5
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 ...

18 c330a6cc-30ad-44a0-ba9c-628aad818d02
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.

10 ec9e108f-3e11-42c5-8385-6732866a3448
Dall's Sheep along the Canol Trail in Canada's Northwest Territories.

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

21 c4535495-988e-4501-9693-9ebefe3d6b15
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. 

35 fe2e966b-6cd3-4459-84ce-122fa309a713
The views and wildlife and history along the Canol Trail, in Canada's Northwest Territories, make it a photographer's paradise

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

19 699d9f14-7aca-4e68-83e0-b96824df88e3
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.

67 0ad17c30-5463-4c48-9c2a-861a432b41bc
Exploring the Canol Trail, Canada's most rewarding walk 13 2fe225e8-452a-491e-93d7-9d247edefc5b