Long-time Prince Edward Island resident Bryson Guptill challenged himself on a month-long trek over his beloved home island. But little did he know, his one-off adventure inspired a tourist movement that is bringing new life to the region.
The Atlantic island is the smallest of the Canadian provinces and benefits from a modest but steady tourist industry, especially during the summer months. From winding highway roads to red sandy beaches, the small island has some of the most beautiful views in Atlantic Canada. Guptill cherished every minute of his month-long adventure. He saw endangered species in their natural habitat, chatted with passersby, and gained a new appreciation for the place he called home. But he wasn't alone. He completed the walk with three friends, and together they felt inspired to spread the idea.
And so, the Island Walk was born. It is made up of 435 miles of multi-terrain trails, including dirth paths, provincial highways, and natural trails. The idea caught like wildfire, and Guptill, who spearheaded a volunteer group organizing the trek, hoped to launch the project in the spring of 2020. Not only is the goal to spread awareness of the innate beauty that Prince Edward Island has to offer, but also to teach Island Walk participants to cherish the region and care for the surrounding environment. However, just as the eager team got ready to launch their passion project, the region was hit with an unprecedented twist.
The 160,000-person closed its borders to domestic and international travel in order to protect the residents. However, as we seem to be easing out of the raging pandemic, the province has since opened up to limited travel. And with that, the Island Walk can continue on with the long-standing island tradition of enjoying the great outdoors. "I found the island to be amazing," a recent Island Walk participant shared with National Geographic. "I've walked days without bumping into anybody. I can't even begin to describe the peace I feel."
If you're interested in the 400-plus mile trail for yourself, you can learn more about the life-changing outdoor adventure on Island Walk's website.