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10 Canadian Forests You Can Visit Now and Always

As Canada works to conserve at least 30 percent of the nation's lands and waters by 2030, here are a few protected forests worth celebrating.
Hi, I'm Diane!

Based in Vancouver, B.C., Diane Selkirk enjoys writing stories where science, history, or social justice intersect with travel. Her work has appeared in BBC Travel, National Geographic Travel, and The Globe and Mail.

Home to almost 10 percent of the world’s forests, Canada often conjures up images of fir trees, maple groves, cedar-covered mountains, and birch-ringed lakes. Serving as protectors in both a practical and a cultural sense, forests ease erosion and flooding; mitigate the impacts of natural disasters; combat climate change; and are sources for the traditional medicines of many Indigenous nations. They’re also vast and wondrous places for visitors to play and explore.

But the truth is, Canada’s forests are struggling, and nonprofits, Indigenous Nations, and conservation groups are in a race to conserve at least 30 percent of Canada’s lands and waters by 2030. Here are just a few of the irreplaceable Canadian forests that were recently protected.

1. Princess Louisa Marine Provincial Park, British Columbia

Boats at the shoreline of Egmont in Canada.
The shoreline of Egmont, near Princess Louisa Marine Provincial Park.Bildquelle: christopher babcock / Shutterstock

This secluded park is well off the beaten path in BC.

Princess Louisa Marine Provincial Park is called suivoolot by the Shíshálh (Sechelt) nation, meaning “sunny and warm,” an apt descriptor for the calm inlet where waterfalls tumble down the sides of a granite gorge, and the sun reflects off snowcapped mountains. If you’re looking to drift by rain forests and waterfalls, this mainland park—which is only accessible by boat or seaplane—might be for you. Located off Jervis Inlet near Egmont, a public fundraising campaign led by BC Parks Foundation successfully expanded the protection of the fjord to include the southern shoreline, meaning that no development will erode the park’s serene peace.

2. Birch River Wildland Provincial Park, Alberta

Woman sitting on bench in Fort McMurray.
Birch River Wildland Provincial Park is a remote haven near Fort McMurray (pictured above).Bildquelle: SteelHorse169 / Shutterstock

This well-protected park is tricky to access but worth the trip.

Made up of lakes, marshlands, and forests of coniferous trees including spruce, pine, and fir, Canada’s boreal forests cover 55 percent of the country, and serve as recreation sites for many communities. Birch River Wildland Provincial Park near Fort McMurray is part of this remote haven, providing habitat for bison and birds. The park (accessible only by bush plane) also offers opportunities for backcountry camping and hiking adventures through strands of old-growth forests. Created through funding provided by the Tallcree First Nation, protection means it can’t be logged, which means you can explore now, or someday.

3. Atikaki Provincial Wilderness Park, Manitoba

The Pinawa Heritage Suspension Bridge in Pinawa, Manitoba, Canada.
Atikaki Provincial Wilderness Park is located in Manitoba (pictured above).Bildquelle: Salvador Maniquiz / Shutterstock

The perfect park for on-the-water activities and archaeology.

Manitoba’s Atikaki Provincial Wilderness Park is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Pimachiowin Aki (“the land that gives life” in the Ojibwe language of Anishinaabemowin). Added to the World Heritage List in 2018, Atikaki Provincial Park is popular with adventure seekers looking to canoe the vast Bloodvein River or explore the region’s archeological sites which include ancient pictographs depicting bison, kingfishers, and moose. The Anishinaabe First Nations of Pimachiowin Aki operate a guardians program to help keep the land and waterways safe, and serve as educators and protectors of what the Anishinaabe call “the Lungs of the Earth.”

4. Nebo Property, Saskatchewan

Cypress Hills Provincial Park in Saskatchewan, Canada.
Saskatchewan is a blend of grasslands and forest.Bildquelle: Brendan van Son / Shutterstock

Twitchers shouldn't skip this birdwatching paradise.

The Nature Conservancy of Canada’s (NCC) Nebo property in Saskatchewan is a blend of boreal forest and grassland found 50 minutes west of Prince Albert. Birdwatchers flock to the property to wander among the wild prairie roses while keeping an eye out for rusty blackbirds and horned grebes. The NCC aims to return the property to its original state by encouraging forest development, and a mixture of short trails invite you to explore the aspen and spruce forest and discover the land as it heals.

5. Backus Woods, Ontario

A dirt road through a forest of gum trees in a park.
Black gum trees (pictured above) can be found in the Backus Woods.Bildquelle: Phillip Wittke / Shutterstock

Home to some of the region's most at-risk animals.

Backus Woods, on Ontario’s South Coast, allows you to discover the warmth and beauty of Canada’s unique Carolinian life zone, a small ecoregion composed of deciduous forests, lush swamplands, and 64 different species of ferns. While the Carolinian life zone makes up less than 0.25 percent of Canada’s landmass, it protects 25 percent of the country’s at-risk species.

Here, you’ll find some of Ontario’s oldest living trees, including 400 year old black gum trees. You’ll also find the area’s tallest tree, the bright green tulip tree that towers above the canopy of sugar maples, oak, pine, and hickory. Backus Woods has been added by UNESCO to the Long Point World Biosphere Reserve in recognition of its biodiversity and cultural significance.

6. Green Mountains Nature Reserve, Quebec

Woman walking in the woods in summer in Quebe, Canada.
The terrain in this reserve is full of old-growth and a network of trails.Bildquelle: MelissaCassista / Shutterstock

Quebec is doing its part to help preserve Canada's forests.

Every square mile counts in Canada’s push to reach 30 percent conservation by 2030. And in 2016, the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) added another square mile of land to the pre-existing Green Mountains Nature Reserve in Quebec’s Appalachian range. The land here is filled with delicate maidenhair ferns and stands of old-growth forest, as well as three trail networks for exploring. The expansion also provides protected habitat for bears, moose, and bobcats, ensuring these large mammals have space to roam through their environment.

7. Troop Island, Nova Scotia

Indian Harbour, a small fishing community of the Halifax regional municipality.
Nova Scotia’s Troop Island is an hour away from Halifax (pictured above).Bildquelle: Dgu / Shutterstock

Saved from developers, this island is now a must-visit for outdoor adventurers.

Nova Scotias Troop Island was secured for conservation in 2012, saving it mere weeks before it was due to be sold to developers. The speedy campaign to preserve the island, located less than an hour from Halifax, was supported and partially financed by the local community, and organized through collaboration between the St. Margaret's Bay Stewardship Association and the Nova Scotia Nature Trust. You can reach Troop Island by kayak or boat and walk inland from the sandy beach to discover an untouched Acadian hardwood forest, with groves of old-growth sugar maples and yellow birches. Ospreys also reside along the shore and songbirds nest in the trees, providing Troop Island with its very own soundtrack.

8. Thomas Island, Prince Edward Island

Ariel view of Elephant Rock on Prince Edward Island.
Thomas Island is on the eastern coast of Prince Edward Island (pictured above).Bildquelle: Russ Heinl / Shutterstock

An island off the coast of an island.

Wander among the white spruce forest of Prince Edward Island’s Thomas Island; these slender trees shade the vibrant red-sand beaches where the seals often rest and play at low tide. Reachable by kayak, you can find Thomas Island on the eastern coast of Prince Edward Island surrounded by shallow waters and seaweed beds, with its red sands providing a striking contrast against the green of the forest. It was conserved by the NCC in 2015 due to the role it plays as the breeding grounds for great blue herons, and remains a treasured spot by the community.

9. Salmonier Nature Reserve, Newfoundland and Labrador

Wild red salmon swimming upstream a river.
During spawning season, you can watch the wild salmon swim upstream.Bildquelle: Troutnut / Shutterstock

This salmon spawning destination is home to an endangered lichen.

The riverside Salmonier Nature Reserve (near the community of Mount Carmel-Mitchells Brook-St. Catherines) is home to the endangered boreal felt lichen, a grayish-blue lichen with white, papery edges that forms a symbiotic relationship as it grows on tree trunks and branches. The damp climate of this region of Newfoundland encourages the growth of a variety of other lichens, indicators of air quality and have important uses in medicine. The reserve stretches along the Salmonier River which supports Newfoundland’s threatened Atlantic salmon; during spawning season, you can come watch the wild salmon battle their way upstream as the river fills with fish.

10. Keiko and Errol Nature Preserve, New Brunswick

Hopewell Rocks Park in the Bay of Fundy, Canada.
Visit the Bay of Fundy (pictured above) to see the Keiko and Errol Nature Preserve.Bildquelle: meunierd / Shutterstock

Don't get stranded on this remote Canadian island.

Visit the Keiko and Errol Nature Preserve on Ross Island in the Bay of Fundy to experience the world’s highest tides (the island is accessible by foot or car at low tide) and wander amongst the coastal forest and wetlands of the island. It was conserved by the Nature Trust of New Brunswick in 2021 and visitors are welcome to explore the spruce-fir forest and keep an eye out for the migratory birds which rest in the trees. This windswept spot is located on Wabanaki Confederacy territory and locals continue to pick periwinkles along the coastline—its protection cements it as a place for everyone to enjoy both now and in the future.

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