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East Coast Trail 

Useful Guide to Canada's Best Coastal Hike

Widely known as one of the world’s best hikes, the East Coast Trail (ECT) is an active adventure that combines spectacular coastal beauty with the unique culture of Atlantic Canada. Comprised of twenty-six linked wilderness paths in Newfoundland’s lush Avalon Peninsula, the ECT takes you along towering cliffs, deep fjords, dense forest, striking arches, sea stacks and historic sites. It’s not uncommon to spot whales migrating off the coast, and depending on the season, icebergs lurking offshore too. Along the trail, local communities greet hikers from around the world with bright clapboard housing, fresh seafood, and memorable personalities. As a long-time East Coast Trail supporter, Great Canadian Trails has curated week-long, self-guided itineraries that include the very best sections of the 336-kilometre (210 mile) trail, along with premier hiker’s accommodation, meals, and trail shuttles. We invite you to join us for a spectacular, stress-free and bucket list outdoor adventure.

The East Coast Trail officially began in 1994, when dozens of local hiking enthusiasts gathered with the goal to construct a single trail to link the communities and trails in Newfoundland’s Avalon Peninsula. By the end of the year, the first 25 kilometres (40 miles) had been completed on either end of St John’s, the provincial capital. From the onset, the goal was to create a hiking and running track, minimizing environmental impact and prohibiting the use of vehicles, bikes or horses.

The non-profit East Coast Trail Association was incorporated as a registered charity, garnering federal funding and local financial support. An additional 80 kilometres was opened in 1996, thanks to the help of over two hundred volunteers. The trail increased over the following years, greatly benefitting from the construction of wooden and suspension bridges.

Within five years of its founding, the East Coast Trail was winning outdoor tourism awards. It continued to expand with the help of volunteers and successful fundraising, and by 2010, National Geographic named the Avalon Peninsula the Number 1 Coastal Destination in the World. In 2012, National Geographic called the East Coast Trail one of the world’s ten best outdoor adventures. Thanks to this sort of acclaim, tens of thousands of hikers have hit the trail, generating millions of dollars for the local economy. The entire East Coast Trail was incorporated into The Trans Canada Trail, an expansive 24,000-kilometre hiking trail that cuts across Canada. Mile Zero of the Trans Canada Trail is found at Cape Spear National Historic Site, the most easterly point of the continent, and a scenic and cultural highlight on the East Coast Trail.

2022 saw the opening of the final 52-kilometre / 32-mile section in Cape St Francis, completing the current 336 km East Coast Trail, now firmly established as one of the world’s most spectacular multi-day hiking experiences.

Great Canadian Trails began offering supported self-guided East Coast Trail itineraries in 2016, pioneering a unique model that incorporates and benefits the local economy. A portion of every trip fee goes to the East Coast Trail Association, helping to maintain the trail for future visitors.

  • The trail runs through the coastal boreal forest |  <i>Chantel Keogh</i>
For the ultimate eastern hiking experience, it's hard to beat Canada's East Coast Trail. Located in Newfoundland, the 300km/186mi trail comprises 26 wilderness paths that take in all of this region's diverse landscapes.   Join one of Great Canadian Trails' self-guided adventures on the world's top coastal destination. Enjoy the best day walks on the trail with nights spent in cozy B&Bs.


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