3 Western Canadian Backcountry Adventures

Are you looking for a great, Western Canadian backcountry adventure? Check out one of these three picks in Manitoba, BC and Alberta:

Credit: Paul Zizka/Skoki Lodge

Paddler’s Paradise

Atikaki Provincial Park, MB

There are no roads leading into Atikaki Provincial Park. There are no usage fees and no crowds — unless you count woodland caribou. The park is, however, relatively close to Winnipeg; access is either by charter plane or via paddle-and-portage-route through Wallace Lake Provincial Park (about 250 km north of Peg City). Once within, a staggering 4,000-sq-km carved up by 1,000 navigable waterways awaits. Most paddlers head straight for the Bloodvein River, a Canadian Heritage River that snakes for 200 km through the park. Travelling past Aboriginal petroglyphs, three-billion-year-old Precambrian Shield, scrubby jackpine and prickly black spruce, during the 10-day paddle you’ll sleep to the sound of howling wolves each night and wake the scent of blooming water lilies every morning. 

Dates: June to September

For More Info: gov.mb.ca/conservation/parks

Golden Ears Trail

Golden Ears Provincial Park, BC

Don’t let Golden Ears Provincial Park’s popularity lull you; this is one of the most underestimated hikes in the Vancouver-area. Starting from the busy parking lot, the 12-km-long Golden Ears Trail climbs more than 100 metres for every one kilometre in length. It will take you about five hours to reach Panorama Ridge Backcountry Campsite — setup a tent in the wooded area. No fires are permitted; there is an emergency shelter here too. After a rest, finish the remaining three kilometres and several hundred metres of elevation to the summit. Lactic acid and lung-heaving rewards the well-prepared hiker with vistas of Pitt Lake, nearby permanent snowfields and just about the entire 62,400 hectares of Golden Ears Park. Return to your tent and stargaze into the night — a perfect summer weekend. 

Dates: June to October

For More Info: env.gov.bc.ca

Skoki Lodge (pictured)

Banff National Park, AB

Luxury in the backcountry? You’ll have to work for it first. Starting from Lake Louise Ski Resort in Banff National Park, the trail to Skoki Lodge is an 11-km trek that gains more than 900 metres in elevation and tops out at 2,500 metres in Banff’s spectacular alpine. Follow the well-marked trail past Temple Lodge, alongside Coral Creek, as you make your way to the Halfway Hut. The path steepens here, culminating in the climb to Deception Pass. Catch your breath while you enjoy panoramic views of the Skoki Valley before descending into a conifer forest and arriving at 80-year-old Skoki Lodge. Book accommodation ($189/night) and use the full-service operation as your hiking hub. 

Dates: June to October

For More Info: skoki.com

Photo: Paul Zizka/Skoki Lodge

This article originally appeared in our Summer 2014 issue.