Trans Canada Trail: The National Trail System
The Trans Canada Trail, also known simply as “The Great Trail”, was born in 1992 out of the Canada 125 celebrations, and is expected to be fully completed in time for Canada 150 celebrations in 2017. The Great Trail is made up of hundreds of individual trails linked together to form over 20,000 kilometres of continuous multi-use trail connecting Canada from coast to coast to coast. The trail now passes through every province and territory, connects approximately 15,000 communities, and is recognized as the longest recreational trail in the world. It is estimated that four out of five Canadians live within 30 minutes of the trail.
As of November 2016 approximately 90% of The Great Trail has been completed nation wide, with several provinces and territories already 100% completed. In February 2016 the Yukon became the third province/territory to achieve 100% connection when the Klondike Snowmobile Association and the Trans Canada Trail came together at the 2016 Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous to celebrate the milestone.
In June of 2016 the Globe and Mail printed a special feature showing the progress of the trail and showcasing the newly launched image, “The Great Trail”. It is available online at http://globeandmail2016.thegreattrail.ca/
There is a national Trans Canada Trail organization based in Montreal and they promote, assist and oversee development of The Great Trail. The national organization is led by a board of directors, a senior management team, and several standing committees with members all over Canada. The Trans Canada Trail has also selected suitable provincial and territorial organizations to act on their behalf as official agents in each province and territory, and a letter of agreement was signed outlining the responsibilities of each party. For the Yukon Territory, the Klondike Snowmobile Association proudly serves this role.
There are national guidelines and standards to be followed, and some limited funding is available for construction and maintenance of the trail. The Great Trail is very much a community volunteer based project however, and the vast majority of the trail building and maintenance is accomplished by local volunteers. The territorial and provincial agents are responsible for leading the designation, building and maintenance of the trail in their area, and any local groups wishing to apply for recognition, assistance or funding must apply through the provincial/territorial agent. It is also up to those agents to ensure the standards of the Trans Canada Trail are met in their area. This system has created a national trail system that has consistent safety and quality standards across Canada, while at the same time is completely unique in each area.
Although snowmobiling is one of the “Big Six” core groups on The Great Trail, the Canadian Council of Snowmobile Organizations (C.C.S.O.) realized early on that the proposed route of the Trans Canada Trail would not make a true Trans Canada Snowmobile Trail (T.C.S.T.), due to its proposed southern track across Canada. Therefore, in 1993 the C.C.S.O. decided to link existing provincial and territorial snowmobile trails into a true cross Canada snowmobile network.
The T.C.S.T. was fully linked by 1998, and was North America’s first coast to coast recreational trail. In March of 1996 the Klondike Snowmobile Association scooped the rest of Canada by having the president of the C.C.S.O. come to the Yukon and open the first official section of T.C.S.T. in Canada, The Top of the World Highway, closed in winter and used by hundreds of snowmobilers during the Trek Over the Top. It generated an impressive amount of media exposure for the Yukon. To open the completed T.C.S.T. in 1998, the C.C.S.O. rode coast to coast in RendezVous 1998.
As in numerous jurisdictions across Canada, combining the two national trail systems in the Yukon makes economic and environmental sense. Most snowmobile trails can easily be shared with skiers and dog teams during winter, and have potential to make great hike & bike trails come summer. Based on this, the Klondike Snowmobile Association sought and obtained official agent status with the Trans Canada Trail Foundation. Since then Klondike Snowmobile Association volunteers have been working hard year-round to build, designate, connect and maintain the The Great Trail in the Yukon. Now that the Yukon portion of The Great Trail is fully connected, the Klondike Snowmobile Association is looking forward to a long future of continuing to work with the Trans Canada Trail as we maintain and improve the trail.
The Trans Canada Trail and the Klondike Snowmobile Association strongly believe in the Multi Use Trail concept. Snowmobilers, mushers, skiiers, ATVers, hikers, bikers, horseback riders, walkers, runners, and everyone in between are all considered a welcome sight on the trail. With the Yukon’s beautiful scenery and abundance of historical trails, The Great Trail concept has been tremendously popular among Yukoners, and the potential for expanded tourism is real.
There is a wide variety of individual trails that make up The Great Trail in the Yukon, including paved highways, non-motorized urban commuter trails, remote wilderness snowmobile trails, and virtually everything in between. Each of these unique trails has been linked together to form over 1,600 km of continuous multi-use trail, which connects to the British Columbia portion of the Great Trail at the Yukon/B.C. border south of Watson Lake and to the Northwest Territories portion of The Great Trail at the Yukon/N.W.T. border on the Dempster Highway. By making these connections, the Yukon portion of The Great Trail has become a key section of the national trail system by making a true coast to coast to coast route possible. For more information on the Yukon portion of The Great Trail, please check out our Yukon Trans Canada Trail page.
For more information on the Trans Canada Trail, please visit www.tctrail.ca.