One of the best additions to Prince Edward Island came about in the late 20th century when the island’s rail network was replaced with a tip-to-tip, multi-use outdoor trail took. Perfect for hiking and biking in summer and snowmobiling in winter, the Confederation Trail takes visitors across meadows and rolling hills, through pastures, and into quaint villages. Over 250 miles of smooth path, the trail is ideal for kids: it’s accessible from many points across the island, has frequent ‘pit stops’ along the route, and is never steep or very rugged.
The trail starts in Tignish and ends at Elmira, but branches span out from the main corridor into Charlotteown and coastal communities all along the island, eventually connecting to the Confederation Bridge in Borden-Carleton. With plenty of places to stop, eat, and play along the way, walking portions of the trail can be fun, but more adventurous visitors know there are better ways to explore the beauty of PEI.
Find Buried Treasure
The Confederation Trail is a geo-caching hot spot, with 1900 caches along its path. Caches are well known and well documented, taking any frustration out of the sport for young kids. When you get to PEI or start planning your trip, bookmark a geo-caching list such as this one, and use your smart phone or handheld GPS device to find hidden treasures along the route. It can help to start in Charlottetown and move outward on the trail for some easier-to-find stashes. If you’re unsure about locations, shopkeepers or the visitor’s center may be able to point you in the right direction. We find geo-caching to be a great way to keep the kids motivated to hike!
Explore on Two Wheels
Ideal for cycling, bike rentals are available in many of the villages and in Charlottetown. Some visitors even plan their entire vacation around cycling these paths (you’ll see plenty of ‘pros’ on the trail), but we recommend allocating just one day if you’re exploring with kids. Parents can cover more ground than if the whole crew walked the trail on foot without getting too tuckered out. For an easy ride that’s do-able for the whole family, start in St. Peters for a loop that hugs the shore of St. Peter’s Bay. You’ll ride past a harbor with lobster fisherman at work, then stop at two off-the-beaten-path beaches, but be advised these beaches are lesser known and thus unsupervised. Alternatively, try the simple out-and-back ride along the Greenwich section in PEI National Park. This route includes gentle rolling hills and great views that isn’t too strenuous for little legs.
Hike additional trails
While popular (but somewhat intimidating on foot), the Confederation Trail isn’t the only show in town. Families with young kids may prefer to hike a designated nature trail, heritage road (still used by some farmers with machinery, so be on alert), or interior woodland trail instead. Our pick: the Winter River Trail. Less than 4 miles from Charlottetown on the Green Gables Shore, you’ll have your pick of loops, which wind through the woods with plenty of interesting landmarks to look at like bridges and streams along the way.
Ready to plan your Confederation Trail adventure? Start with this trail map!