When it comes to Best Canadian Cycling Routes, there are a lot to choose from. Canada is an adventure paradise for cyclists, whether you're looking to push your limits with a road race, test your endurance on a BMX or mountain bike course, or explore a new region with a touring bike. For those looking to ride longer distances with the option to enjoy spectacular scenery and experience local culture and cuisine along the way, this list has got you covered!
"Ride as much or as little, as long or as short as you feel. But Ride!"Eddy Merckx
One of the top bike trails on any list of best Canadian cycling routes has to be Prince Edward Island's Confederation Trail. This is one of the longest and most well-developed trails in Atlantic Canada, and one of Canada's hidden gems.
The main branch of this impeccably maintained rail trail is 273 km, running tip-to-tip on the island from Tignish to Elmira. However, the entire Confederation Trail network is 435 km, branching through the heart of Charlottetown and connecting the charming seaside communities of Souris, Georgetown, Montague, Wood Islands, Murray River and Murray Harbour. Moreover, for those wishing to extend their journeys, the newly established Island Walk, which is also a Canadian Camino route, offers additional opportunities to circumnavigate the island.
PEI's tip-to-tip trail offers beautiful pastoral scenery, quaint villages, hardwood forests, and stunning seascapes. The Confederation Trail follows the route of an abandoned railway. Consequently, it is relatively flat (slopes are < 2% grade), and it is almost entirely off road. Moreover, its surface is hard-packed crushed stone dust or asphalt, and it is very well maintained, making it suitable for most bicycle types and accessible to cyclists, hikers, and snowmobiles of all skill levels. Although experienced cyclists might be able to complete the entire trail in a day, there are numerous B&Bs, inns, and campgrounds along the route, as well as restaurants, cafés, wineries, and cideries that should not be missed along the way. As a result, the Confederation Trail is the perfect means for island-wide exploration!
Another great Canadian cycling route on our list of top bike trails is Le P'tit Train du Nord in Québec. Winding through the picturesque Laurentian Mountain region of Québec just north of Montreal, this must-see trail is one of Canada's best kept secrets.
Le P'tit Train du Nord follows the bed of the old Canadian Pacific Railway line for 200 km between Saint-Jérome and Mont-Laurier. Furthermore, an additional 34 km at the southern end of the trail links Saint-Jérome to Bois-des-Filions, a small community on the outskirts of Montréal. Better yet, for anyone wishing to extend their cycling trip across Canada, this trail is part of the extensive and world-renown Route Verte network which links to the Cataraqui Trail in Ontario, Le Petit Témis in New Brunswick, as well as to various cycling routes through Maine.
Le P'tit Train du Nord offers spectacular mountain scenery with many lakes, rivers, and seemingly endless forests, as well as lively tourist towns and cottage areas. Furthermore, because it follows an old railway line it is relatively flat, and its surface of crushed-stone dust or asphalt makes it suitable for all types of bicycles, including road bikes with narrow tires. Best of all, there are many services on the trail including bike repair shops, hotels, inns, campgrounds, pubs, restaurants, and microbrasseries. Many of the old train stations have been converted into information centres, rest areas and cafés, making any ride along the Le P'tit Train du Nord an enjoyable experience.
The spectacular mountain scenery, gorgeous trail conditions, and numerous opportunities to experience Québec's culture and gastronomy make this a once-in-a-lifetime experience that shouldn't to be missed.
The next best Canadian cycling route on our list is British Columbia's 400 km long Kettle Valley Rail Trail. Stunning mountain scenery, deep canyons, rushing rivers, and vast forests are among the highlights that make this one of Canada's top cycling trails.
This epic multiuse pathway follows the route of the Kettle Valley Railway, which opened in 1915 to transport silver ore to the coast. It connects Midway in the east to Brodie in the west, and offers several opportunities to follow spurs farther west to Hope or south to Osoyoos. Although it traverses stunning landscapes its slopes never exceed 2.2% grade, and its surface is hard packed gravel or asphalt, making it suitable for most bicycle types, skill sets, and fitness levels.
Among the many highlights of this trail are the 18 wooden trestle bridges in the Myra Canyon section, the historic Othello Tunnels, and epic views of the Coquihalla River. In 2002 the Myra Canyon section of the Kettle Valley Rail Trail was designated as a National Historic Site of Canada due to the outstanding feats of engineering required to build the railway. In case the natural wonders of this epic trail leave you wanting to explore more of British Columbia, this trail is part of a larger network of 650 km of connected pathways from Castlegar to Hope. For cyclists wishing to explore more of Western Canada, the Kettle Valley Rail Trail is a definite must!
The Celtic Shores Trail is 97 km long, tracing the west coast of Cape Breton Island between the seaside community of Port Hastings and the town of Inverness Nova Scotia. This highly maintained, flat rail trail is perfect for off-road cycling and long-distance trekking. Amazingly, it showcases the beauty of the Atlantic coastline while providing access to the vibrant Celtic culture of Atlantic Canada. The well-signed trail leads cyclists through peaceful wilderness, past tranquil streams, through active fishing harbours, and along gorgeous sandy beaches. Experienced cyclists could complete the entire trail in a single day. However, a variety of B&Bs, inns, and campgrounds provide accommodations along the way, and experiencing the food, music, and hospitality in Creignish, Judique, Port Hood, or Mabou is well worth the time. After all, nothing beats savouring fresh lobster while watching the sun set in the Atlantic Ocean.
Another great Canadian cycling route is Ontario's Cataraqui Trail. This well-maintained and signed pathway follows the former CN Railway for 104 km between Smiths Falls and Strathcona. With a few exceptions it is mostly flat, with grades < 5%. Its surface is a mix of gravel and stone dust, making hybrid mountain bikes or fat bikes good choices for cyclists on this route. Interestingly, the trail traverses the unique and fascinating landscape of Frontenac Arch Biosphere region, with its rolling hills, rugged cliffs, windswept pines, and many small lakes, streams, and wetlands. Wildlife viewing opportunities along the route abound, including white-tailed deer, porcupines, beavers, and over 100 species of birds in summer. If total immersion in nature is what you crave, this route provides access to 500 km of cycling trails stretching from Ottawa to Uxbridge, including the Capital Pathways in Ottawa, the Lanark Link, the K&P trail, the Central Frontenac Trailway, Hastings County Trail, Northumberland Rail Trail, Lang-Hastings Rail Trail and the immaculate Kawartha Trans Canada Trail.
These Great Canadian Cycling Routes are a fantastic way to discover the best of what Canada to offer. From breathtaking views out over to the Atlantic Ocean, to the world-class gastronomy of Québec, to the stunning majesty of the Rocky Mountains, Canada's top cycling routes will let you explore it all.
"The bicycle is a curious vehicle. Its passenger is its engine." — John Howard, US cyclist
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