Avid hikers have another reason to visit Canada’s eastern coast in 2022. Prince Edward Island (P.E.I.), affectionately known as “Canada’s Food Island,” is inviting travelers to circumnavigate its idyllic shoreline by foot on The Island Walk. The 435-mile trail, which opened last September, loops around the perimeter of the country’s smallest province — and with plenty of stops at sandy beaches, scenic viewpoints, and charming small towns, it has something for everyone.
Suited for both seasoned hikers and casual walkers of all ages, The Island Walk features a mix of coastal sections, much of the historic Confederation Trail, red dirt roads, and peaceful streets. With grades no steeper than 2 percent, the entire loop takes about 32 days to complete (when walking 12 to 15 miles per day), but travelers can start or stop anywhere along the way. And with P.E.I. being famous for its freshly shucked oysters, lobster rolls, and historic haunts (including the fictional home of Anne of Green Gables), there are plenty of detours to make en route.
As more people look to connect with nature and embrace slow travel, the new trail — inspired by other walking pilgrimages around the world — has opened at a good time.
“Just like the Camino de Santiago, The Island Walk will give you the time to slow down and be present in your thoughts and daily journey, while experiencing the simple beauty of the island around you,” said Island Walk creator Bryson Guptill in a press release.
With international travelers in mind, the trail conveniently passes through P.E.I.’s two major cities — Charlottetown (where you’ll find the international airport) and Summerside, as well as many charming small communities. And along the way, several partnering inns and hotels (marked on the trail’s map) assist with transportation to the nearest trail entrance or transferring luggage when changing accommodations.
Mid-May to late October is the best time of year to visit, with July and August being peak tourism months. Those who come in October can enjoy the added perk of seeing P.E.I.’s breathtaking fall colors in their full glory. And depending on your interests, you may want to stop by one of the many vibrant summer festivals. In the community of Tyne Valley, for example, you’ll find the annual Oyster Festival and Rock the Boat MusicFest in full swing in August.
Culinary enthusiasts may want to extend their sojourn in Victoria-by-the-Sea, a town famed for its maritime flavors. Locals will agree that there’s no better place to refuel than the Lobster Barn, which specializes in — you guessed it — lobster rolls, and Island Chocolates for homemade truffles.
If time allows, block off the evening to catch a show at the Victoria Playhouse, the island’s longest-running theater. Or, for an off-beat break from walking, head to The Canadian Potato Museum in O’Leary, where you’ll not only get your fill of spud history, but also potato-themed dishes at the restaurant. After indulging in Canada’s national dish of poutine (a gooey mountain of fries, gravy, and cheese curds), you’ll have more than enough energy to meander for miles.