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 well 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, 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 September 2016 approximately 87% of The Great Trail has been completed nation wide. The Yukon portion of the trail is 100% connected, and the Klondike Snowmobile Association and the Trans Canada Trail came together at the 2016 Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous to celebrate this 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 Yukon has recently joined this list with a member on the Trans Canada Trail Youth Committee. 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 out lining 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, and the territorial and provincial agents are responsible for leading the designation, building and maintenance of the trail in their area. Local groups wishing to apply for recognition, assistance and/or funding must apply through the provincial/territorial agent. It is also up to the agent to ensure the standards of the Trans Canada Trail are met in their 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 that the proposed route of the Trans Canada Trail would not make a Trans Canada Snowmobile Trail (T.C.S.T.) due to its then 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 network. By 1997 this was accomplished from the Alberta border east to Newfoundland. Alberta & British Columbia were linked in 1998 and soon after the Yukon and N.W.T. were also fully linked in. The T.C.S.T. was North America’s first coast to coast recreational trail.
In the mean time, the Klondike Snowmobile Association, with the permission of the Yukon Territorial Government, scooped the rest of Canada in March of 1996 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 some 500 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., the C.C.S.O. rode coast to coast in January/February of 1998 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 Klondike Snowmobile Association strongly believes 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 our trails. 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.
One of our main goals during the construction, designation and maintenance of The Great Trail is to give Yukoners and visitors alike a trail that has something for everyone. This is reflected in the wide variety of individual trails that make up The Great Trail in the Yukon; which include 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.