Cycle Touring: 6 Canadian Classic Routes

Welcome to part three of our Classic Canadian Cycle Destination Roundup. Here are six awesome bicycle routes for travelling cyclists:

Credit: Tourism BC

Welcome to part three of our Classic Canadian Cycle Destination Roundup. Here are six awesome bicycle routes for two-wheeled travellers:

Galloping Goose Trail, BC

Originally a First World War-era freight-train line, “The Goose” is Victoria’s most popular multi-use trail. Extending 55 km from downtown to the nearby township of Sooke, and intersecting the lesser-known but equally-nice Lochside Regional Trail, most of The Goose is paved — perfect for roadies — with well-maintained hard-packed gravel towards the northwestern terminus.  This meandering route passes ocean-views, serene farmland, rocky canyons and frog-filled bogs — truly a capital region must-ride.

Kananaskis Trail (Highway 40), AB

It’s no secret Canmore and Kananaskis Country harbours superb mountain biking, but thanks to Highway 40 over Highwood Pass, the area also holds one of Canada’s finest road cycling routes. Ascending to 2,206 metres, this route is the highest public road in the country — it’s particularly popular for cyclists in the spring, as it’s closed to motorists from December until June 15. After Labour Day, traffic thins out and the cool weather makes cycling this lung-busting climb fun again. Park at the King Creek Day Use Area and set out on the 110-km round trip to Highwood Junction, or just ride to the summit of Highwood Pass and back for a 35-km trip. Either way, the mountain scenery and roaming wildlife is worth the sweat.

Manitoulin Island, ON

Cycle the traditional lands of the Anishnaabe People — the Ojibwe, Odawa and Pottawatomi First Nations — via the meandering roads of Manitoulin Island. Routes range from 25 to 50-plus km, and local operators offer guided cycle tours. No matter which routes you pedal, views of serene inland lakes and massive Georgian Bay abound, as do hiking excursions to Aboriginal petroglyphs and abundant options for camping, hotels or B&B accommodations. On-road, there are only about three hills of any significance, but single-track MTB’ers can head to McLean’s Park Mountain Bike Trails for 25 hectares of marked off-road riding.

Greater Niagara Circle Route, ON

Ontario’s scenic Niagara Region might just offer the finest road touring in Canada; boasting more than 200 routes through a dozen townships, it’ll take more than a single autumn to ride them all. If one pathway could be singled-out, it would have to be the Greater Niagara Circle Route, a 140-km paved pathway consisting of five marked sections and passing through the towns of Niagara-on-the-Lake, St. Catherines, Thorold, Welland, Port Colborne and Niagara Falls. Beyond that, mountain bike trails are located in Short Hills Provincial Park and winery cycle tours, guided and self-guided, are particularly popular throughout the region.

Grand Manan, NB

Hop aboard the ferry at Blacks Harbour, NB, for a 90-minute ride to Grand Manan, a 142-sq-km island at the mouth of the Bay of Fundy. Cyclists have a choice of sticking to paved routes and enjoying a seaside cycle, or moving onto the dirt path to tackle any amount of the 70 km of marked cross-country trails. Or both! Traffic on the main highway can be a little daunting during peak tourism seasons, so September, while cooler and wetter, is a great time for pedalling this picturesque island. String together a tour of the beaches and lighthouses; stop for a picnic lunch at Anchorage Beach or the Grand Manan Bird Sanctuary. Note: ferry is first-come, first-serve; cyclists should arrive 30 minutes early, drivers should show up an hour early.

Whitehorse, YK

The geographical remoteness of Whitehorse is sure to keep it off-radar for most mountain bikers, even those who are nowadays aware of the absolute mountain bike utopia that it is. In the area surrounding The Wilderness City, more than 300 km of marked single-track can be found as well as an additional 400 km of dirt roads and double-track. And given that the Yukon is “real wilderness,” within about 15 minutes of pedalling out of downtown ‘Horse, you’ll feel like you’re alone in the universe. If you’re planning a trip this year, hurry, as cycling season is winding down and some mountainous routes will already see snow by late-October.