British Columbia is fast becoming a top destination for cyclists. Whether you're renting a bike for a first trip out, or serious about cycling, here are our recommendations of routes to try:
Easy: Stanley Park and Seawall (Vancouver)
This ride is great for a casual cycle through the park and beyond. With rental options nearby, a virtually flat surface, and the option to ride all the way all around the loop past Science World and into False Creek, it's one of the city's most popular rides, spanning 22 km of waterfront. Just keep in mind that this route is SO popular it's best for a slow-paced ride. Click here for more information and a printable map.
Easy: Galloping Goose Trail (Vancouver Island)
The Galloping Goose is 60 km of well-maintained trail (combination of paved and gravel sections), created with cyclists of all skill levels in mind. It was named after a passenger car that operated on this abandoned Canadian National Railway line and passes through a number of environments (forest, urban, suburban). You can start either in Downtown Victoria or up by Sooke Potholes Provincial Park, renowned for camping and great swimming.
Moderate: The Gulf Islands
This is a good option for recreationalists who want a short getaway, not too much traffic, and stuff to stop and do along the way. If you're leaving from the Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal be sure to click here first - you'll need to take a shuttle to get through the George Massey Tunnel. From Tsawassen you can connect through to Galiano, Mayne, Pender, Salt Spring and Saturna Islands (known as the Southern Gulf Islands). Each Island has its own personality and unique features to explore.
The Northern Gulf Islands include Denman, Hornby, Cortez, and Quadra. Most people prefer to travel Horseshoe Bay and catch the ferry to Nanaimo before cycling onwards to explore these. Both Ferry Terminals (Tsawassen and Horseshoe Bay) are accessible by public transit, an option that will make the journey less challenging. If taking your bike on the bus for the first time, click here for rules and tips.
If visiting Hornby, try the locals-favoured return ride on the old island highway. It's mostly downhill and you face the tricky ferries right off the bat. Enjoy the scenery in Qualicum Beach, where you can stop for a swim and lunch. After Qualicum the view is not as scenic (you're entering suburbia), so some riders choose to catch a city bus from Parksville (Route 90 "Intercity") back to the Nanaimo ferry terminal.
Moderate: The Kettle Valley Trail
This converted railway travels through some of Canada's warmest climates through spectacular mountain and valley scenery. With a maximum 2.2% grade, the trail can be cycled or hiked by most with just a little preparation. The trail can be cycled on your own, or as part of a planned tour, and touches on wineries, farms, and other unique destinations - including the Lakeside Resort in Oliver (mentioned above). For more information on this area, click here.
Challenging: "The Golden Triangle"
The Golden Triangle takes riders through three national parks: Banff, Yoho, and Kootenay . Technically you'll be starting in Alberta with the stunning Rocky Mountain vistas of Banff. From there you'll take the Kicking Horse Highway km over into BC and Yoho National Park (30 km), the western face of the Rocky Mountains, home to fossils, and engineering marvels like the Spiral Tunnels. Next you'll ride over to Golden (52 km) and down to Invermere and Radium Hot Springs (have a soak in the Valley of the Thousand Peaks) and Kootenay National Park (102 km) where you'll see everything from glaciers to grasslands. Then loop back to Alberta for your final 66 km ride.
Background Photo Credit: Destination British Columbia