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World's Longest Recreational Trail Network Stretches 15,000 Miles

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Canada is one of my favorite countries to visit and now there's a way to visit all 13 provinces and territories via The Great Trail, a 24,000-kilometer (14,900-mile) recreational trail network.

The trail was fully linked last month and is now officially the longest recreational trail in the world after 25 years and millions of dollars. It doesn't just connect Canada from coast to coast, but also loops north into the Yukon and Northwest Territories to the Arctic Ocean.


Of course, the trek would be impossible to complete with just a pair of hiking boots. At some sections you'll likely want cross-country skis, a snowmobile or a canoe or kayak for waterways. For instance, the Lake Superior Water Trail and Mackenzie River Trail can only be navigated by paddling.

As Mother Nature Network pointed out, the Great Trail, formerly known as the Trans Canada Trail, is similar to the Maine-to-Florida East Coast Greenway in that it's cobbled together from individual trails that are maintained and operated by local jurisdictions.

The Great Trail

Connecting the trail network was a major effort. According to the Globe and Mail, it required the collaboration of "more than 470 provincial, local and volunteer groups across the country ... [who dedicated themselves] to building and maintaining paths and boardwalks in every nook and cranny of the country, from the rural pinches of Canada to the urban downtown centers."

Critics have noted that the project has veered from its original plan of being a completely off-road trail. Jason Markusoff at MacLean's wrote, "Only 7,898 kilometers of the trail are actual off-road trails, or 32 percent. More of it, 8,593 kilometers, are automobile roads, while 6,073 clicks of the stretch are waterways and the remaining 1,793 kilometers are hybrid trails that also permit all-terrain vehicles."

But connecting the route is just the first phase of the project, the Globe and Mail reports. Planners say that there is still work to be done to make it safer.

As Deborah Apps, president of the project, said: "We've built it, we've connected it, we're ready, so the next chapter is, 'Come on world, come see what Canada has to offer."

Catherine McKenna, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, was also happy with the project.

"I'm stoked, the Trans Canada Trail is now 100% connected," she tweeted.

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