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British Columbia Cycling
 
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British Columbia is a scenic wonder and it attracts a lot of cycle tourism. The Kettle Valley Rail Trail is considered one of the finest cycling trials in the world. The Vancouver Sea Wall is a must do if your visiting Vancouver. South of the city you'll find more off road riding  along the dyke systems of Delta and Richmond. On Vancouver Island the Galloping Goose and Lockside Trails form an extended ride that takes you from the Swartz Bay Ferry Terminal, through Victoria and passed Sooke in the west. Further north on the island you'll find the Cowichan Valley Trial along with paved paths in and around Nanaimo. Most of these trails are a part of the larger Trans Canada Trail system.

 
 

British Columbia isn't a province of backroads like Quebec or Ontario and of course it's also very mountainous. If that suites you, you'll find it to be a great long distance touring area with some of the worlds best scenery, along with lots of easily accessible campsites. Be sure to plan your trip carefully since many of the mountain roads are narrow, without paved shoulders and with blind corners. 

Vancouver Island - Rail Trails

Lockside Trail - 29km, Easy-Moderate This multi-use trail starts at the ferry terminal at Swartz Bay (connections to Vancouver and the Gulf Islands) then makes it's way south along the Saanich Pennisula, through Sidney (ferry access to Sidney Spit and Washington State), passed Bazan and Cordova Bay, through Saanich just north of Victoria where it intersects at the Switch Bridge with the Galloping Goose Trail (the Goose travels west to Sooke and beyond - follow the link for more info.). While sections of the trail are very urban there are a number of areas which take you through forest and field and out by ocean. You can access Swan Lake/Christmas Hill Nature Sanctuary in Saanich as well as several parks on route, including Elk/Beaver Lake and Island View Beach Regional Parks, both of which allow you to cool off with a swim. The trail can be access from the Swartz Bay ferry by following the signs. If you're on foot turn left at the Landsend Road Overpass to the trail. If you're on a bike pass under the Landsend Road overpass and head right at the bike lane and right at the overpass. From Victoria downtown cross the Johnson Street Bridge and turn right for the trail that connects to Harbour Road. Designated parking areas are available at in Saanich at Lochside Drive and Lochside Park, Cy Hampson Park in Central Saanich and in Sidney in Tulista Park. You'll also find roadside parking in many areas. Have a look at the parks section of the Capital Regional District website which is the official site for the trail and the regional parks on route. The Provincial Parks can be found on the BC Parks website.

Galloping Goose Trail - 55km, Easy-Moderate A multi-use trail which works it's way from Victoria, north of Esquimalt, through Langford, Colwood, Metchosin, Sooke and finally to the now abandoned (and unfortunately fully dismantled) mining village of Leechtown. The trail is accessible to hikers, backpackers, cyclists, equestians and just about anyone or anything which is bio-powered. In-line skaters should note that the trail is paved only in the first section (this portion is closed to horses) from Victoria to Langford. The trail will take you passed splendid ocean views, enchanted forests, fascinating wetlands, colourful farmers' fields as well as sections that are decidedly urban. You can access Thetis Lake Regional Park, Sooke Potholes Provincial Park (a great place for a swim - access by Sooke River Road only), Matheson Lake Regional Park and just a little further afield, Fort Rodd Hill and Fisgard Lighthouse National Historic Sites. Not far north of the trails starting point in Victoria, it intersects with the Lochside Trail, which will take you north into the Sannich Penninsula, through the wonderful seaside town of Sidney then to it's terminus at the Swartz Bay Ferry Terminal (connections to Vancouver and the Gulf Islands). The Goose is a part of the Trans-Canada Trail which will eventually take you north along the east coast of Vancouver Island to Nanaimo and beyond. From Victoria downtown, cross the Johnson Street Bridge and turn right for the trail that connects to Harbour Road. In Sooke the trail intersects Sooke Road/Highway 14 just north of Sooke Harbour and east of Roche Cove Park. You'll find parking at Sooke Potholes, at either end of Matheson Lake Regional Park, at Glen and Thetis Lake as well as several areas closer to the city. You'll also find roadside parking in many areas. Have a look at the parks section of the Capital Regional District website which is the official site for the trail and the regional parks on route. The Provincial Parks can be found on the BC Parks website. Sooke


Lochside Trail
Galloping Goose Trail

Regional Parks - Capital Regional District Parks
Provincial Parks - BC Parks
Swan Lake Christmas Hill Nature Sanctuary

Sidney
Sooke
Victoria

Note: The Galloping Goose and Lochside trail are shared use with sections used by horses which can be easily spooked. The trails have pave and unpaved sections, as well as portions which make use of the roads. In addition, the trails cross roads at various points, including very busy highways.

Trans Canada Trail - Victoria to Nanaimo (16,000km across Canada)

The trail on Vancouver Island starts (or finishes) in Beacon Hill Park in Victoria. The trail follows the Galloping Goose through Esquimanlt and Langford then out passed Sooke. The next section is a work in progress (read take the road) but starting in Shawnigan Lake you can follow the old railway line through Cowichan River Provincial Park to Cowichan Lake. The Kinsol Trestle along route was burned out and a work around route is used until they rebuild it. From Lake Cowichan you have to take Old Cowichan Lake Road to the Duncan section (the railtrail will replace this eventually). Roads are used to take you north from here through Chemainus, Ladysmith and into the Nanaimo Lakes area and eventually the Nanaimo Parkway Trail which takes you to your ultimate goal Nanaimo. For updates on the trail have a look at their website at TC Trail. Trans Canada Trail, Galloping Goose Trail, BC Parks

Gulf Islands - Cycling

The Gulf Islands are a great place to do some cycle touring. You'll find lots of country roads to explore, along with small villages and towns to stop in for a wonderful seaside snack. Provisions can be found along many routes and bikes shops are available on most islands to provide repairs or adjustments, as well as sage advice on routes and facilities. Bike rentals are available on several islands if you don't have your own bike or want to avoid the hassle. There are lots of campgrounds or B&B's along most routes, allowing you to spend several days getting to know each island intimately. The area ferries as well as the inter-island water taxis are fully equipped to take your cycle and baggage - all for a fee. Have a look at our "Resources" section for details.

While cycling is a wonderful way to explore the islands, most of the island roads are narrow with little in the way of shoulders in many sections. Blind curves are not uncommon and in high season you encounter a lot of traffic on some of the roads. Finally, most routes include a fair bit of climbing as the islands have a lot of hills and mountains. As a consolation you'll find lots of beaches, which will allow you to rest your weary muscles and cool off with a quick dip.

Saltspring Island Heritage Map - Available from the Salt Spring Chamber of Commerce - Island Pathways - Fee

Map shows potential routes, distances, hills, parks, and services.

Most popular islands for cycling are Mayne, Saturna and the Penders

There are no designated mountain bike trails, to our knowledge (feel free to correct us on this one), on the islands but there are a number of logging road which you could take advantage of. Before you make any plans ensure that these aren't active roads - if they are don't go!

 

British Columbia Cycling

Note: Bike helmets are obligatory in British Columbia

Vancouver

The city has an extensive set of bike trails, paths and greenways (many more are in the planning stages) as well as the excellent Sea Wall. Many of the routes are shared with cars but a variety of tactics are used to enhanced the cyclists safety and right of way, including traffic calming, designated lanes and traffic signaling devices. Maps are available from bike shops, while the City of Vancouver provides one online as well. The two key cycling trails in the city are the Sea Wall and the Central Valley Greenway, both of which have their own brief descriptions. Cyclist will find designated bike racks and bike lockers (from Translink, Vancouver's transit authority) around the city. The transit system is bike friendly, have a look at the Translink website for details.


Vancouver - Sea Wall

The Sea Wall is a phenomenal multi-use path which wends its way around the edge of the city. Starting at the endowment lands beside the University of British Columbia, the path travels along Jericho Beach and then after some street connections in Point Grey into Kitsilano. It then loops around Vanier Park where you have the opportunity to explore Granville Island when you travel under the bridge. Continuing along False Creek you cycle passed the Science Centre then along the north shore of the Creek to the west end and English Bay beach. You can then choose to connect into the Stanley Park section and ride around the outer periphery of the park or take the cut off down to the shores of Burrard Inlet. Following along the edge of the inlet you'll be cycling in the downtown core where you can access many of Vancouver's most interesting neigbhourhoods and attractions. This includes Gas Town, Granville Mal and China Town. This stretch also has connections to the Sea Bus which will take you to North Vancouver and the Sky Train which connects to New Westminster and Surrey. Both of these transit services will accept bicycles as do most of the buses in the city (restricted to two at any one time). Other connections include West Vancouver, via Stanley Park and the Lions Gate Bridge and the Central Valley Greenway which travels below the Sky Train out to New Westminster and Surrey.


Vancouver/Burnaby/New Westminster - Central Valley Greenway

Takes advantage of the Sky Train corridor's right of way stretching from New Westminster, through Burnaby and then into the core of Vancouver in the Main Street/False Creek area. At this point you can make connections to North Vancouver, West Vancouver and the Kitsilano/Point Grey area by way of the Sea Wall. Parts of the trail are still in the development process. A map is available online from Best BC http://www.best.bc.ca which includes the current status of the Greenway.


Vancouver - Stanley Park

While technically a part of the the sea wall it stands on it's own as an recreational facility. While it's limited as a commuter trail (with the exception of the access to the Lions Gate) this is the best ride in the city and is a great introduction for a visitor to the Park and the whole region since the trail provides stunning views of the north shore and Kitsilano/Point Grey. The trail connects into the rest of the Sea Wall and provides access to the downtown core and most of Vancouver's best attractions. Joggers, walkers and inline skaters share the trail which has designate lanes for different uses.

Richmond Trails & Greenways

Like the Netherlands, Richmond is flat and uses dikes to hold back the sea. Richmond, like it's European counterpart is a great place for cycling with no real hills and a series of dykes which have a trail system open to cyclists. The Dyke trails follow Dyke Road in the south and head west into Stevenson Village. Following the shoreline the trails head north to River Road where it travels along the Middle Arm of the Fraser River. The section between Steveston and the Fraser River is know as the West Dyke Trails and is well know for both its excellent nature viewing and fabulous views of the Coast Mountains. You can connect into Delta using the Massey Tunnel (no cycling allowed in the tunnel) during the summer months by taking advantage of the shuttle service. In the north the trail brings you close enough to either the Oak Street or Knight Street bridges to get access to Vancouver and its trail system (a mix of on street, shared streets, greenways and sea walls). The Richmond pathways also include several unlinked sections in the east as well as trail which will help you cut across island, from North to South along Shell Road.

Delta Trails

Delta like Richmond includes some trails which take advantage of the dyke system in the region. The path above Roberts Bank can be accessed via River Road West passed the turn off for Westham Island. The Boundary Bay dyke trail along the eastern shore travels through Boundary Bay Park to Mud bay providing 14km of cycling. You'll find another 7km along the Boundary Bay Greenway in North Delta. For travels making their way from the Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal to Vancouver you can follow the 64th Street Connector. An online map is available from the Delta website.

Kettle Valley Railway

One of the world's most beautiful rail trails, the Kettle Valley trial runs for an incredible 455km. Not all of the trail is suitable for cycling and some of the trestles were lost in the interior fires of recent years so sections may not be connected. Much of the trail is best suited to shorter trips on sections which are complete. The trail travels from outside Grand Forks in the west to Brodie in the east. On route, traveling west to east, you'll pass through Brookmere, Tulameen, Princton, Summerland, Penticton, Rock Creek, Okanagan Falls and Osoyoos. The scenery varies from tall mountains, to rich valleys, sub-alpine meadows, deep forests and areas that border on desert. While the trail climbs over 1000m, it does so on a very gradual grade and their are no steep sections (it was a railway after all). Have a look at the Spirit of 2010 http://www.spiritof2010trail.ca website for more information on the Kettle Valley or check out the Kettle Valley Trail site.


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Victoria

Victoria like Vancouver has a network of bike paths much of which are shared access on city streets. A variety of strategies are used to ensure cyclists safety and right of way. Vancouver Island's main cycling trails, the Galloping Goose and the Lockside Trail have their origins in the city before stretching out to the north and west for a total of over 88km. The E&N Victoria to Goldstream will add another 17.5km to this total when it's completed in time for the 2010 Olympics. Eventually the trail will connect into the Cowichan Valley Trail and continue on into Nanaimo.

Lockside Trail

Saanich Penninsula, Victoria Area -29km, Easy-Moderate This multi-use trail starts at the ferry terminal at Swartz Bay (connections to Vancouver and the Gulf Islands) then makes it's way south along the Saanich Pennisula, through Sidney (ferry access to Sidney Spit and Washington State), passed Bazan and Cordova Bay, through Saanich just north of Victoria where it intersects at the Switch Bridge with the Galloping Goose Trail (the Goose travels west to Sooke and beyond - follow the link for more info.). While sections of the trail are very urban there are a number of areas which take you through forest and field and out by ocean. You can access Swan Lake/Christmas Hill Nature Sanctuary in Saanich as well as several parks on route, including Elk/Beaver Lake and Island View Beach Regional Parks, both of which allow you to cool off with a swim. The trail can be access from the Swartz Bay ferry by following the signs. If you're on foot turn left at the Landsend Road Overpass to the trail. If you're on a bike pass under the Landsend Road overpass and head right at the bike lane and right at the overpass. From Victoria downtown cross the Johnson Street Bridge and turn right for the trail that connects to Harbour Road. Designated parking areas are available at in Saanich at Lochside Drive and Lochside Park, Cy Hampson Park in Central Saanich and in Sidney in Tulista Park. You'll also find roadside parking in many areas. Have a look at the parks section of the Capital Regional District website which is the official site for the trail and the regional parks on route. The Provincial Parks can be found on the BC Parks website.

Galloping Goose Trail

Victoria Area - 55km, Easy-Moderate A multi-use trail which works it's way from Victoria, north of Esquimalt, through Langford, Colwood, Metchosin, Sooke and finally to the now abandoned (and unfortunately fully dismantled) mining village of Leechtown. The trail is accessible to hikers, backpackers, cyclists, equestrians and just about anyone or anything which is bio-powered. In-line skaters should note that the trail is paved only in the first section (this portion is closed to horses) from Victoria to Langford. The trail will take you passed splendid ocean views, enchanted forests, fascinating wetlands, colourful farmers' fields as well as sections that are decidedly urban. You can access Thetis Lake Regional Park, Sooke Potholes Provincial Park (a great place for a swim - access by Sooke River Road only), Matheson Lake Regional Park and just a little further afield, Fort Rodd Hill and Fisgard Lighthouse National Historic Sites. Not far north of the trails starting point in Victoria, it intersects with the Lochside Trail, which will take you north into the Sannich Penninsula, through the wonderful seaside town of Sidney then to it's terminus at the Swartz Bay Ferry Terminal (connections to Vancouver and the Gulf Islands). The Goose is a part of the Trans-Canada Trail which will eventually take you north along the east coast of Vancouver Island to Nanaimo and beyond. From Victoria downtown, cross the Johnson Street Bridge and turn right for the trail that connects to Harbour Road. In Sooke the trail intersects Sooke Road/Highway 14 just north of Sooke Harbour and east of Roche Cove Park. You'll find parking at Sooke Potholes, at either end of Matheson Lake Regional Park, at Glen and Thetis Lake as well as several areas closer to the city. You'll also find roadside parking in many areas. Have a look at the parks section of the Capital Regional District website which is the official site for the trail and the regional parks on route. The Provincial Parks can be found on the BC Parks website. Sooke

Note: The Galloping Goose and Lochside trail are shared use with sections used by horses which can be easily spooked. The trails have paved and unpaved sections, as well as portions which make use of the roads. In addition, the trails cross roads at various points, including very busy highways.

E&N Victoria to Goldstream (via the Galloping Goose)

17.5km, easy A work in progress the, planned completion date is 2010. The trail will provide access to Goldstream Provincial Park from the most populated centres of the south island.

Cowichan Valley

47 km from Shawnigan Lake to Lake Cowichan - Not complete The trail is a part of the Trans Canada Trail network (which will eventually connect Victoria to Nanaimo), it travels north from Shawnigan Lake through scenic wilderness areas but doesn't yet directly connect to the northern section due the burned out Kinsol Trestle which is to be rebuilt. The northern section follows the Cowichan River (and parallels the Cowichan River Trail) through the Provincial Park of the same name then continues on into Cowichan Lake.

Nanaimo Parkway Trail

20km, easy, intermediate, multi-use A paved trail which follows the Nanaimo Parkway, the riding is easy except for the hills which can be fairly significant especially if you haven't ridden all winter. The Parkway runs for Chase River south of the city to Aulds Road in the north with access points along route. The trail connects to several parks and you can reach the downtown area via the Millstone Trail and the Waterfront Walkway. Commuters as well as recreationists take avantage of the trail. Information on the trial and parks in the Nanaimo area can be found on the Parks Go website and a map is available from the City of Nanaimo

Nanaimo E&N

7.5km, easy. This newly established trail adds to the 20km of paths provided by the Nanaimo Parkway Trail. You can expect the E&N to keep expanding and eventually the the Nanaimo trails will connect through to the Cowichan and Galloping Goose trails providing a continuous link from Swartz Bay through Victoria then up to Nanaimo. The Nanaimo bike paths provide an excellent opportunity for commuters as well as recreational riders.

Sea Wall

An excellent paved and shared trail which is slowely working its way around the cities periphery. It follows the shore from Kitsilano Beach, around False Creek and then out to English Bay and Stanley Park. The sea wall is not only a great recreation trail but works well for some commuters.

Stanley Park - Vancouver

The ride around the outside of the park along the sea wall is a must. This is an excellent way to get to know the area and really appreciate the park. Take a couple of hours or all day long this ride is well worth any time spent.

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Resources

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Related Links

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