“Start walking now,” begins a Canadian Geographic article on ‘The Great Trail,’ “and you’d finish sometime in 2020.” That’s assuming you don’t take time off for hip or knee surgery, get mauled by a bear or get fed up with too many mosquitoes and too much mud.
On the North Shore portion of the what used to be called the Trans-Canada Trail (and still is by most people, probably), the mud would be the killer. Probably there aren’t many willing to tackle it in the first place, but sooner or later somebody with no local knowledge is going to strike out optimistically and get bogged down good. Because the promotional stuff put out by The Great Trail people can give the impression that section along the north side of Lesser Slave Lake is completed. In fact it is far from that and it will likely be years before you can hike it without having to clamber over beaver dams or make detours down to the lakeshore. There’s lot of muddy country in there.
Mind you, wilderness is a big part of the charm of the north shore of the lake. One day it will be hikable by ordinary folks, but don’t hold your breath.
As an idea, The Great Trail is inspiring. It’s big concept stuff and bound to attract attention inside and outside Canada’s borders. The fact that it comes right through Slave Lake puts the community on a very big map, guaranteeing it gets noticed. Some curious and hardy folks will likely show up to investigate – far fewer than come this way for fishing and camping, but still. It’s not a bad thing to be part of something so big, even if the reality isn’t as rosy as those national trail maps imply.