Canada started work on a huge cross-country network of trails for cyclists, hikers and other outdoor enthusiasts back in 1992, and the project is finally nearing completion. To date, over 20,000 kilometers or 12,906 miles of car-free trails have been connected, 26 percent of which are on water. According to The Great Trail website, 80 percent of Canada’s population lives within 30 minutes of what is said to be the largest recreational trail in the world. Which means Canucks have no excuse – save an angry moose or miserable weather – to waste away indoors.
Apart from its impending completion sometime next year, a slew of headlines about bicycle “superhighways” in Europe has drawn new attention to the ambitious Great Trail project. Over two decades in the making, the extraordinary trail starts in Newfoundland, or “Kilometre Zero”, according to the website, and stretches west across the great white north to British Columbia. When it is completed, it will comprise 14,913 miles of mixed-use trails.
While great emphasis has been placed in European cities on cycling as a form of green transportation, The Great Trail gives Canadians the opportunity to not only commute, but also enjoy a variety of other activities amid the country’s diverse landscapes and cityscapes. Walking or hiking, cycling, paddling, horseback riding, cross-country skiing and snowmobiling are top recommended pastimes. Albeit a boon for recreation, the Great Trail project has also boosted communities across the country.
“Trail sections are owned, operated and maintained by local organizations, provincial authorities, national agencies and municipalities across Canada,” according to the website. The “Trans Canada Trail is represented by provincial and territorial organizations that is [sic] responsible for championing the cause of the Trail in their region. These provincial and territorial partners, together with local trail-building organizations, are an integral part of Trans Canada Trail and are the driving force behind its development.”
Germany opened the first few miles of a 60-mile highway earlier this year, and the United States is planning its own bike greenway up the east coast, but neither compares with The Great Trail, a singular unifying project with benefits for all Canadian residents.
Images via Wikipedia and screenshot