Walking Canada’s PEI Island Walk & Other Camino-Inspired Trails

Last updated June 17, 2024

Walking is simple enough. Maybe this is why it is one of the most underrated forms of exercise. Thanks to fitness trackers we’re bragging (or bemoaning) about our commitments to 10,000 steps a day. We constantly flip our wrists to check our stairs count, heartbeats per minute and calories burned.

We know that our FitBits and smart watches praise us for taking one measly step. So it must be good, right? In this situation the answer is yes.

The Impact of Walking

What is the actual immediate impact of walking on our bodies? With every step, those who choose walking make an immediate difference to their physical state. Right away there is a change in your mood. Your mind clears and your stress starts to dissipate. You are doing just as good as your watch tells you. Even if you only start with 10 to 15 minutes of movement.

To go faster, you must slow down.

John Brunner, novelist

According to the medical journal The Lancet, a daily 15-minute walk can increase life expectancy by three years. The journal adds that it’s not about speed or distance; it’s all about movement.

Walking affects the whole body. Taking a walk results in increased energy. It contributes to better memory and sleep patterns. Walking even strengthens bones and muscles. An afternoon stroll improves balance and coordination. The best part? Walking can be done anywhere. Whether it’s on the treadmill at home, around the block, or kicking it up a notch and aiming for something even bigger.

The Camino de Santiago

For many of us, the number one step challenge is the Camino de Santiago. The Camino de Santiago is one of the most famous walks in the world. Comprising routes that lead from France or Portugal into northern Spain, the 497 miles (800 kilometers) trail culminates at the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Santiago.

First established as routes for Medieval pilgrims in the 10th century, the Camino de Santiago was declared one of the great pilgrimage routes of Christianity by Pope Alexander VI. It was also believed to be a way to reduce one’s time in purgatory in the afterlife.

The cathedral is reportedly the burial site of Saint James the Great. Saint James was one of Jesus Christ’s disciples. Which explains why the Camino is also referred to as “the Way of St. James.” In the 12th and 13th centuries, 250,000 pilgrims a year were making their way along the Camino de Santiago.

I had no idea when starting out on my lone pilgrimage how many dear friends I would make.

Jane V. Blanchard, author of Women of the Way: Embracing the Camino

Scallop signs mark the paths for those following the popular pathway. The Camino de Santiago is a lodestone for walkers from all around the world. Many of these pilgrims are not seeking the spiritual guidance of St. James. Rather, they take the pilgrimage in search of their own brand of spirituality and wellness. Upon completing their trek, they receive a healthy dose of personal achievement. 

What other walking challenges are beckoning those to explore by foot?

Hikes with Bragging Rights

Several other hikes come with bragging rights. Hikes such as the 746 miles (1,200 kilometers) in Japan’s Shikoku Temple Pilgrimage. Or the challenging 25 miles (40 kilometers) of Peru’s Inca Trail. The Inca Trail leads to the mystical site of Machu Picchu. Another popular hike follows in the footsteps of Ireland’s patron saint, Saint Patrick. Hikers trek along the 82 miles (132 kilometers) in Ireland to walk the steps of the nation’s beloved saint. Don’t forget the unforgettable 56 miles (90 kilometers or less if you choose a steeper route) to the summit of Tanzania’s Mount Kilimanjaro!

Looking for inspiration? Follow the ongoing journey of Paul Salopek of The National Geographic Society as he continues on his Out of Eden Walk. Starting in 2013, Salopek set out to retrace the steps of our ancestors as they migrated around the globe. Salopek began his quest on the border of Ethiopia and Djibouti in eastern Africa. He is now currently walking through Asia and eventually will continue through the Americas.

Canadian Hikes

Located in North America, a country with several notable hikes is Canada. This includes Ontario’s 559 miles (900 kilometers) Bruce Trail and the country-wide Trans CanadaTrail. The Trans CanadaTrail is a whopping 16,700 miles (27,000 kilometers)! As if there weren’t enough options, there is a new route that is increasing in popularity. This Canadian trail could become the lure for walkers and hikers in 2022: the Island Walk of Prince Edward Island (PEI).

Inspired by the Camino de Santiago, the Island Walk is a 435 mile (700 kilometers) trail developed by the non-profit Island Trails, circumnavigating Canada’s only island province, located in the eastern Atlantic coastal region of the country.

The Island Walk

Officially launched in May 2021, the Island Walk connects coastal and inland sections of the island, red sand beaches to its red dirt trails between fields, the western and eastern points, North Cape and East Point, as well as the province’s two main cities, Summerside and its capital, Charlottetown. It also incorporates portions of the existing Confederation Trail on PEI, a 270 mile (435 kilometers) path beginning in Tignish at the northwestern end of the island to Elmira on the northeastern tip.

The walk’s official website divides the Island Walk into sections. One section offers details on the trail conditions. Another section offers information about surrounding landscapes. There are also tips for what to pack, local dining and shopping and points of interest. It’s recommended to schedule your walk between May and October to benefit from optimal weather conditions. For those who want to commit to a Camino-style challenge of the island, walking 12 to 16 miles (20 to 25 kilometers) per day will lead to completing the Island Walk in approximately 32 days.

And beyond the daily bonuses to mental and physical health, the Island Walk offers a trail passport, and when completed can be sent in to receive an Official Certificate of Completion of the Island Walk.

Whether it’s extending the stroll through your neighborhood, walking a Camino or an off-the-beaten route, there is always a walk out there for you.

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