The Canadian achievement is a celebration of environmental preservation and active lifestyles.
After 25 years in the making, Canada has finally completed world’s longest hiking trail, known as the Great Trail or Trans Canada Trail. The path is 24,000 km (or nearly 15,000 miles) of connected urban, rural and wilderness, greenways, waterways, and roadways.
The non-profit Great Trail project was started back in 1992 by founders, Paul LaBarge, Pierre Camu and Bill Pratt and has now connected 15,000 communities along the trail, made up of 432 sections. The idea was initiated during Canada’s 125th-anniversary celebrations and reached 90% completion by their 150th anniversary in 2016.
The trail passes through mountain ranges, grass plains, cities, old-growth forests and roaring rivers. It reaches 2185 meter elevation at its highest point and includes a 1,700 km stretch of water through the Yukon. “The roots of our trails start with our First Nations, the Indigenous trail routes. Then you have the route of the voyagers with the fur traders, the Hudson’s Bay Company. And then you get the railway, the Trans-Canada Highway, so they are all iterations of the same thing,” explained La Barge.
The Great Trail came together thanks to thousands of dedicated volunteers over the course of decades and required tens of thousands of dollars in government and private donations. Television host and journalist Valerie Pringle has been fundamental in soliciting donations since her involvement began in 2002, but she attributes the hardest work to the volunteers. “It has been a grind on lots of levels but for those local volunteers, and I’ve met thousands of them, they keep the faith and they keep going,” said Pringle.
Canada hopes the world will come “celebrate the beauty of Canada” and become inspired by the great and diverse natural landscapes. Protecting wildlife and maintaining the health of water bodies has been a priority for Canadian government and citizens. The Great Trail spotlights the importance of preserving nature and encouraging an active lifestyle. “First you build it, then get people using it and then it becomes an icon that will hopefully last forever,” said LaBarge.
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