My Favorite Hikes On Canada’s Prince Edward Island

Hikes in pei

Prince Edward Island was made for hiking. Canada’s smallest province boasts photogenic red dirt roads (thanks to a high content of iron-oxide), gorgeous beachside paths, wetlands, boardwalks, and forest trails. It would be no exaggeration to say that there are hundreds of trails on the island — maybe even thousands if you count all the unofficial paths and side trails. As such, there really is something for everyone, whether you’re looking to spend a few minutes in the woods by a storybook home or a few weeks doing an epic island-wide journey.

These are some of my favorite routes to explore on Prince Edward Island, some discovered all the way back in my childhood and others more recently on a press trip. I think you’ll love them as much as I do!

Hikes in pei
Howard Sandler /

Confederation Trail

The Confederation Trail isn’t so much a single route as it is an incredible journey. This 280-mile trail runs through the heart of Prince Edward Island, starting in Tignish in the west and meandering to Elmira in the east (the main trail at 170 miles) with several junctions heading to the coast and different communities, including one that goes through the center of Charlottetown. One of the best things about this trail is its incredible diversity. It’s built on decommissioned railway lines, and covers a huge array of towns and communities, along with miles of unspoiled nature. This is a gentle hike and gradients remain under 2 percent, making it a nice choice for novice hikers; or those who are a bit more experienced but prefer to stroll along — hey, we exist! Nothing wrong with easy hikes that allow you to drink your coffee as you go. 

The Confederation Trail is also a fun, interactive experience. There are more than 1,600 geocaches along the route, as well as nearly 250 interpretive panels, covering everything from German U-boat activity in World War II to rare aquatic herbs. Helpful trail signs also make note of nearby accommodations, restaurants, even bicycle repair shops, and phone numbers are usually listed directly on the signs. That way, you can call from the trail to reserve yourself a bed and breakfast spot, and, should they happen to be booked, you won’t waste any energy trekking into town. As someone who has hiked a small part of the trail, I can say firsthand how wonderfully welcoming these simple signs are. It feels like the communities are looking out for you.

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Lester Balajadia /

The Trans-Canada Trail

Surprise! This is a bit of a trick entry because Prince Edward Island’s section of the Trans-Canada Trail (also known as the Great Trail) is essentially the main route of the Confederation Trail, running from Tignish to Elmira. Yep, the two routes overlap. So if you’re planning to hike the Confederation Trail, give yourself a pat on the back. You’re also on your way to completing the Trans-Canada Trail! Just under 15,000 miles to go.

Hikes in pei
Nicolas Raymond /

The Island Walk

While the Confederation Trail essentially slices through the center of PEI, with junctions running down to the coast, the Island Walk takes a different approach. This 435-mile route circumnavigates the island, covering everything from coastal paths and shoreline to community walks and even a trek into Charlottetown. While some segments use the same paths as the Confederation Trail, others are far away from it. Though the majority of the Island Walk’s segments are ranked “easy” (though a few are “moderate”), the sheer scale of this journey has already been compared to another epic hike — Spain’s famous Camino de Santiago. The Island Walk’s tagline is “Come Back Different,” an appropriate nod to the kind of personal reflection that takes place on a hike of this scale. But even doing a small section or two is hugely rewarding, as I’ve experienced it myself.

Read more  Five Stunning Hiking Trails Within 30 Minutes of Glendale

Hikes in pei
Steve Cukrov /

The Green Gables Trails

By now, you might be thinking that PEI is nothing but epic hikes of gargantuan proportions but that’s not the case at all! Most PEI hikers just do small sections of the Confederation Trail and Island Walk — or they come to places like Green Gables to enjoy the short hikes on the property. Yes, I’m talking about Green Gables Heritage Place, home to one fictional orphan by the name of Anne Shirley. This lovely farmhouse isn’t just the setting for one of the most popular children’s books of all time. It’s also home to two wonderful short hikes. The Haunted Woods, which is named because Anne herself found it eerie at night, does have an otherworldly beauty to it. You may just hear the low, ghostly wail of two trees scraping together in the breeze as I did. The route is an easy 0.6-mile loop that passes through the Green Gables Golf Course and connects to the Cavendish cemetery (where Anne of Green Gables author L.M. Montgomery is buried) and the site of Montgomery’s Cavendish home. 

Along the way, there’s an interpretive panel explaining where the old village school once stood and you can still walk down the path to see where it used to be. Naturally, I immediately took off on a very narrow, faint path that led from the sign and into the woods only to discover… nothing. It just stopped. It was only when I walked a little bit further down the main route of the Haunted Woods that I saw a proper signpost for the real path to the former school site, along with other attractions. My mistake!

The second Green Gables trail is the Balsam Hollow Trail, which begins as the short “Lovers Lane” of Anne-fame. This half-mile path follows a brook and there are many interpretive panels about the local plant life. I’m happy to report that I did not wander off the trail here but you’ll notice that there are a few side paths to Green Gables Golf Course along the way.

Hikes in pei
Greenwich Dunes (Emilie Nguyen /

The Trails Of Prince Edward Island National Park

Prince Edward Island National Park is home to a dozen hiking trails of varying lengths and degrees of difficulty. Some, such as Clark’s Lane Trail, are short and sweet. Weighing in at half a mile, it’s a sunny loop that’s an easy way to get in a little dose of nature even if you’re normally keener on urban experiences. Even tiny hikes are real hikes! Meanwhile, the Robertson Island Trail System (sometimes called RITS) is a stacked loop system of trails, the longest clocking in at 3.1 miles, and is great for birdwatching and mountain biking.

Another good option is the Farm Lands and Bubbling Springs Trails. Really two trails in one, both the Farm Lands Trail and the Bubbling Springs Trail have their own individual loops not far from the trailhead. You can choose either or do both for a total of about 2.8 miles. Yes, there really are bubbling springs to see on the Bubbling Springs Trail, along with scenic lookouts over the lake. The historic pioneer Stanhope Cemetery, whose first burial dates to 1790, is located by the trailhead.

However, if I had to choose just one national park trail to choose, it would be Greenwich Dunes, which is about 3 miles long. You will go over farmland, forest trails, and even a floating boardwalk until you emerge at the Atlantic Ocean. Those two bright red chairs you see are a hallmark of Parks Canada’s most scenic vistas, designed for travelers to stop and sit awhile to admire the view.

Hikes in pei
David McIntosh /

The Devil’s Punchbowl Trail

When you see a trail named “The Devil’s Punchbowl,” there’s no way you can resist investigating. Alas, for better or worse, there’s nothing fiery about this pretty trail (just under a mile) that’s dotted with wildflowers. Located within the Granville Creek Watershed, a local not-for-profit organization is working hard to restore native trees, shrubs, and aquatic habitats in the area, making this trail both a short and easy hiking route but also a chance to see habitat rebuilding in action.

Read more  10 Best (& Most Scenic) Hikes On Prince Edward Island

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Michael Thompson /

Bonshaw Hills Provincial Park

At times, It might feel that PEI’s trails are either wild, epic adventures (like tackling the entirety of the Island Walk) or short and sweet jaunts of 20 minutes or so. If you’re looking for something that’s somewhere in the middle, Bonshaw Hills Provincial Park will suffice nicely. It has over 11 miles of trails ranging from easy to difficult. It’s enough of a challenge to keep you thoroughly occupied for a bracing afternoon of adventure but still make it home for dinner (though there are no guarantees you won’t be sore afterward!)

While you’re in the area, the Deep Roots Distillery is only 13 minutes away on the drive towards Charlottetown. It offers absinthe, vodka, gin, maple liqueur, and more, all of which would be great souvenirs from your trip — or perhaps help you relax after a day on the trails.

Pro Tip: Sensitive Ecosystems

All hikers know to live by the creed of taking nothing but photos and leaving nothing but footprints. But PEI’s ecosystem is especially sensitive and includes sand dunes and nesting birds like Piping Plover. Heed warnings to stay on the marked path!

— Update: 30-04-2023 — found an additional article 10 Best (& Most Scenic) Hikes On Prince Edward Island from the website for the keyword hikes in pei.

People should visit Prince Edward Island during summer. The province of Prince Edward Island is located on the eastern coast of Canada, and it is one of the four provinces that are considered to be part of the “Atlantic Canada” region. This mild island has stunning red cliffs, beige sand beaches, a lush green interior, and some of the kindest Canadian tourists will ever meet.

Even though Prince Edward Island is not a very hilly or vast island, it has an abundance of hiking paths that are sure to please outdoor enthusiasts. For those who want to plan a trip to Prince Edward Island, here’s a list of the top 10 treks on the island.

10 Strathgartney Trail

Established in 1956, Strathgartney Provincial Park is the longest continuously operating park on the island of Prince Edward. The Strathgartney Trail was constructed not long after, and it has evolved via many government initiatives throughout the years. The park itself features a campsite where visitors may leave their vehicles before setting off on foot, along with a variety of services and facilities, such as a rental store for canoes and kayaks and a designated area for day paddlers. The Strathgartney Trail is a lovely place to go trekking in the park as the light moves through the trees all day, throwing magnificent shadows and illuminating the path with a myriad of colors, making it one of the top reasons why Prince Edward Island is worth visiting.

9 The Confederation Trail

Over the course of its 435-kilometer length, this trail travels from the island's northernmost to its southernmost point, with several side routes connecting to it. The legendary Trans Canada Trail includes the Confederation Trail, which was constructed on an old rail line (TCT). Hiking the entire or even a section of the Confederation Trail is one of the best ways to take in the island's stunning scenery. It snakes its way across the island's varied scenery, providing a fitting metaphor for a place so rich in natural splendor, with yellow, red, and orange leaves bursting out here and there.

8 Bonshaw Trails

Routes of differing lengths and difficulty may be found throughout Bonshaw Provincial Park, with the total distance covered by these trails adding up to 25 kilometers. The trails themselves provide a wide range of difficulties, from easy strolling paths to tough ascents across high terrain. There are three distinct kinds of trails: green, blue, and black, and each one represents a different level of difficulty and distance. A day spent hiking in Bonshaw during the fall is a gorgeous way to spend the day; it doesn't matter which route one chooses, they're guaranteed to discover beauty everywhere.

7 Gairloch Trail

The Gairloch Route is a circular trail in a forested region that is around 1500 acres of various woods and has several distinct trails running throughout. The Gairloch Trail is roughly 7 kilometers in length. There are various challenging portions found strewn over the 7-kilometer course due to the varied terrain, which ranges from steep ascents up slippery wood-lined slopes to bridges spanning rivers and streams. The Gairloch Trail winds through a lush forest that is rich in both aesthetic value and biological variety.

Read more  Trails at Tallulah Gorge State Park

6 Cavendish Dunelands Trail

There is a short route known as the Dunelands Trail that connects the parking area at Cavendish Beach to the parking area at the Oceanview Lookout, which is located at the end of Gulf Shore Way West. This route connects to the Homestead Trail, Gulf Shore Way West, and takes hikers across sand dunes and freshwater ponds. The track is just 1.4 miles (2.3 kilometers) long, but it does not lack natural beauty because of its proximity to the sea. Beautiful scenery shots may be taken here with the wind swaying the low reeds and the sparse tree cover.

5 Forest Hill Trail

The Forest Hill Trail can be found five miles to the north of Bridgetown in Kings County. It travels in a loop through big woods (from which several other paths branch out), and the terrain is quite flat to slightly undulating. The majority of the wooded area is located on a marsh and features several deep swales, in addition to two huge ponds. The route is kept in good condition and may be found almost exclusively within a forest setting. Hikers also need to be aware of the presence of horse riders at all times because this is a highly traveled region for horseback riders.

4 Greenwich Dunes Trail

The Greenwich Dunes may be found near Greenwich, not too far away from the Gulf Shore paths that can be found in Dalvay-by-the-Sea. The Dunes Trail travels through abandoned farms as well as dense forest and then over Bowley Pond on a boardwalk that floats on the water. This well-known path leads hikers all the way to the edge of the Atlantic Ocean, where they may relax in one of two red chairs provided by Canada Parks and take in the view of the ever-shifting dunes.

3 Robinsons Island Trail System

The Robinsons Island Trail System may be found on the north shore of Prince Edward Island, which is within Prince Edward Island National Park. The Robinson's Island Trail system, which can be found to the west of the previously mentioned Gulf Shore Parkway, is expansive and serves several users, including hikers and bikers. Even though a portion of the route follows the water's edge, the sections of the network that do go temporarily inland make for a stunning stroll throughout the fall months.

2 Gulf Shore Way Trail

From Brackley Beach to Dalvay, visitors may make use of the Gulf Shore Way, a well-maintained path system that spans a considerable distance. These pathways travel by way of woodland, salt marsh, and dune fields. A portion of the track along the Gulf Shore is paved with smooth asphalt, making it ideal for mountain bikers as well as hikers who want a path that is significantly more stable underfoot. Due to its length, completing this path is best accomplished over the course of a full day. Travelers can also take a food tour through Prince Edward Island.

1 Breadalbane Nature Trail

The Breadalbane Nature Trail runs parallel to the banks of Dunk River through a wide range of forested terrain, from traversing ravines to strolling the rim of the river. The trail is accessible from both sides of the river by two main footbridges. White spruce and hardwood trees surround the path, and at this time of year, the ravine and marsh on both sides of the path offer stunning views. The 6.5-kilometer trip is considered somewhat long, so hikers should plan to spend at least one day on the trail. They are also advised to pack the hiking essentials that every adventurer should always have in their pack to enable them to have the best hiking experience.