Formerly known as the “Trans Canada Trail”, “The Great Trail” is a 24,000-kilometre system of roadways, greenways and waterways that spans our nation.
Beginning in Atlantic Canada, it winds its way across Quebec, Ontario and the Prairie Provinces. It then jogs north past the Arctic Circle and then descends into Alberta and British Columbia. Its tail end happens to be in our neck of the woods: the Cowichan Valley. Our section runs from the top of the Malahat, north to Shawnigan Lake, west to the Town of Lake Cowichan then north to Nanaimo. As much of the trail runs along former railway routes, most of it has gentle grades and is wide and flat, suitable for biking and hiking. There are also sections that feature restored former railway trestles. Some of these include the McGee Creek and Kinsol trestles near Shawnigan Lake, plus three others along the way to Lake Cowichan. All of these provide knee-knocking views of the flora and fauna that lie below you. Whether you hike, bike or saddle up and ride (yes, horseback riding is permitted), it’s best to plan ahead and undertake short jaunts with a base that you can double back to.
More info here.