Canada's 'Great Trail' Is Finally Connected

You can now walk coast to coast across Canada, via the longest trail in the world.

In 1992, three Canadians, inspired by their country's 125th birthday celebration, thought up a crazy plan. What if they could connect all of Canada's hiking trails, footpaths, rail trails, and boardwalks and into one giant mega-trail that snaked from coast to coast?

It's now 2017. Canada has celebrated its 150th birthday. And on August 26th, those three dreamers—along with the thousands of volunteers who helped clear brush, fix planks, put up signs, and do all the other little tasks that make wilderness passable—celebrated the coast-to-coast connection of what they're calling the Great Trail.

.@TCTrail is now fully connected. "It's a major milestone for us," says Geoff Smith of @NSTrails. "It's a project 25 years in the making." pic.twitter.com/NZS7l7cvTk

— Sheldon MacLeod (@thesmacleodshow) August 28, 2017

As MTLBlog reports, the trail can be used for biking, hiking, and horseback riding in the summer, and cross-country skiing and snowmobiling in the winter. "First you build it, then get people using it and then it becomes an icon that will hopefully last forever," Paul LaBarge, one of the original founders, told the Globe and Mail.

The path stretches 24,000 kilometers, or nearly 15,000 miles, criss-crossing southern Canada before forming a huge loop in the Northwest. A quarter of this length is water—wetland and river routes where hikers will have to trade boots for boats.

It's almost four times as long as the Grand Italian trail, which covers all of Italy. It's also over five times as long as the West Coast's famed Pacific Crest Trail, and over six times as long as the Appalachian. (In case you were wondering, it would take a roller-grill hot dog 76 years and 256 days to travel the entire trail network.)

Thanks to everyone who joined us to celebrate our 20km connection to #TheGreatTrail in the #BeaverRiverWetland! @TownshipOfBrock pic.twitter.com/EJlMQPHszA

— Lake Simcoe CA (@LSRCA) August 28, 2017

To celebrate the final connection, hundreds of towns and cities across Canada threw connection-day parties, featuring cake, dancing, kayak parades, and guided hikes.

The trail is far from finished. As LaBarge tells the Globe and Mail, connection is merely "phase one." Now, signs must be added, more funds must be raised for upkeep, and—most importantly—people must be brought out to actually use it.

After a few news articles jumped the gun and called the trail "complete," the Trail's twitter account jumped in to correct them: "It is not, it is CONNECTED," it clarified. "Work remains to be done but it's time to 🎉." (That emoji is presumably a cone of trail mix.) If you'd like to join in, this map will tell you the closest spot to hop on. Happy hiking!

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