Winning tip: Glacier View Cabins, northern British Columbia
Simply one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited: remote, barely known, a hidden gem, this is Lake Atlin. The view from the deck of the cabin is so stunning you can only stand and stare in awe at the lake dotted with forested islands, lined with wild beaches, backed by the vast mountains, snow fields and glaciers of Alaska and the Yukon – all reflected in the water. These cabins, set on an unspoilt alpine mountainside, have spring water, logs, barbecue supplied and canoes for rent. Follow lake or mountain trails and sleep like never before in the silence of the wilderness.
• From C$79 (around £50) a night, sleeps two, additional person £7.50, glacierviewcabins.ca
Captains Lookout Cottages, Bay of Fundy, New Brunswick
These rustic pine cottages are beautifully positioned for lush forest hikes to hidden waterfalls through dense woodlands and miles of rugged coastline; on the doorstep is 15km of coastal cliffs, part of the Unesco Fundy Biosphere Reserve thanks to some of the world’s highest tides exposing ancient footprints, plant life and dinosaurs daily.
• Doubles from £79, captainslookoutcottages.com
Camping, China Beach, Vancouver Island
We hiked the Marine Trail in Juan de Fuca provincial park, which included two of the best beaches I’ve ever slept on. Our first night was China Beach, where getting to set up camp in an actual rainforest (in an official camping area) while being able to see whales swimming in the Pacific a few hundred metres away was unforgettable. The next day’s trek was through ancient forest on a well-maintained trail, past a cool suspension bridge, small caves to explore during low tide and an amazing waterfall before arriving at Mystic Beach and its breathtaking views of the Olympic peninsula.
• Camping £6, secure.camis.com
Patricia Lake Bungalows, Alberta
Wilderness for softies. Glory in the forests, lakeland and mountainous splendour of Jasper national park while the closest you need come to granite is the work surface in a Patricia Lake Bungalows kitchen. Choose one of their superbly appointed Grove properties, which have a waterside setting with views across the lake to wooded peaks in the shape of Mounties’ hats. Hunt down steaks in nearby Jasper and cook them on the great gas barbecue. If a moose strolls by, ignore.
• Suites from £72, cottages from £116, the Grove from £148, all sleep four, patricialakebungalows.com
Four Seasons B&B, Whitehorse, Yukon
Whitehorse, in northern Canada, is surrounded by forest and has over 700km of trails, including the Trans Canada Trail. Wildlife abounds, and the highlight on our 42nd wedding anniversary in July were two moose stepping out of the silver birch and spruce forest ahead of us on to our path. They lingered for a few seconds then sloped off. Four Seasons is comfortable, centrally located and run by the very affable and helpful Greg Bryce, a mine of information about travel in the Yukon.
• Doubles from £56 B&B, 4seasonsyukon.com
Spray Lakes West Campground, Alberta
“Don’t worry much. We have a park ranger who goes up and down the road. We have sightings of bears today but you can use the panic alarm of your truck to scare them away. If not, use your bear spray.” This was our welcome from the attendant couple of the rugged, uncrowded, unserviced campground in the vast and wild K-Country (Kananaskis) in Alberta. You are surrounded by beautiful mountain ranges and the lake is less than 100 metres from your tent. This secluded campground is along the rough, unpaved Smith Dorrien Road/Spray Trail. We arrived at midday and were lucky to nab a pitch for £16. Wood bundles are delivered for £6. You can fish for trout in the lake.
Canoeing and camping, Algonquin park, Ontario
Algonquin is a huge provincial park about three hours north of Toronto, from which there is a free park bus service. Although there are several drive-in campsites in Algonquin, access to the interior (the best bit) is on foot or by canoe only, which can be rented. There is also a canoe taxi, which will transport you and your canoe around the park if needed. As there are over 700km of canoe trails, you may want to use the taxi to get deeper into the park or to return to your car after your stay. There are designated camping areas along the shoreline with firepits and privies – you just pull over at an empty one and spend the night. There are also ranger cabins, which can be booked. Needless to say, wildlife abounds and the fishing is first class. For a real wilderness experience with the security of regularly passing canoe taxis, this is one of the best wilderness experiences for the whole family.
• Ranger cabins from about £400pp, backcountry camping from £8pp, algonquinpark.on.ca
The Boulder Hut, British Columbia
The wumph of the helicopter that delivers you never fails to excite. It’s the only way in. The Boulder Hut is a remote backcountry ski hut in the Purcell mountains and home to the remarkable Yancey family. A stay here is a stay with them. With one cosy bunkhouse, the hut is never busy. You might have to queue for the sauna at night though. Incredible home-cooked food fuels long days of true adventure skiing or hiking. Don’t bother taking your phone. A magical place. When you hear the wumph of the helicopter again you won’t want to leave. Guided and catered packages available.
• £1,585pp with guide/£815 aweek self-guided, full-board, based on 12 people occupying lodge (minimum seven guests), boulderhutadventures.com
Parkside Inn, Haines Junction, Yukon
This is a tiny wilderness town in the Yukon, with a library that doubles as the local liquor store and spectacular views of Kluane and Wrangell-St Elias national parks. For a really remote experience,join a rafting trip down the Alsek river – listening to the boom of glaciers calving into lakes from the comfort of your sleeping bag is quite something – but otherwise try the Parkside Inn, a clean and cosy motel at the heart of Haines Junction. Homely touches include a fridge stocked for breakfast, and the mountain views from the deck will have you reaching for your walking boots as soon as you open the curtains.
• Doubles from £92, parksidekluaneyukon.com. 12-day rafting trip (including all meals) £4,100, nahanni.com
Free huts, British Columbia
The Sunshine Coast Trail is a 180km, hut-to-hut hiking path 170km north of Vancouver running through some of the oldest pine forest in British Columbia. The trail section from Fiddlehead Landing to Lang Bay takes you to peaks of 1,200 metres, with stunning views over the snow-capped Rocky Mountains in the east, over to Vancouver Island to the west and down to secluded lakes deep in the forests – perfect for that post-hike swim. Signs of local wildlife – bear prints and cougar poo – only add to the sense of wilderness and adventure. Huts are free to stay in, on a first-come-first-served basis. Despite this, on our trip, at the height of summer, we only saw four other hikers.