Let's get ready to ride.
Canada is one of the best cycling destinations on Earth. From the mountainous terrain of the coast and the Rockies, to the open expanses of the Prairies, to the scenic townships of Ontario and Quebec to the far eastern shores—you're guaranteed to find a trip to satisfy.
Are you looking for bicycling inspiration?
Read on for Canada's top 12 trips for travelling cyclists:
Freeride the North Shore (Vancouver, BC)
Interested in pedalling the birthplace of freeride mountain biking? Welcome to North Vancouver, British Columbia—freeride mecca. With user-operated trails clustered on Mount Fromme and Mount Seymour, MTB’ers could find a lifetime of entertainment in these misty woods. Word to the wise—and to use the bikers’ own parlance—this is gnarly stuff. It’s generally not for the beginner. Some trails don’t look walkable, let alone rideable. But if you have the skills, there is no place on Earth better to bike than Vancouver’s North Shore.
Cycle a Rail Trail (Penticton/Kelowna, BC)
Built as a rail line by the Canadian Pacific Railway more than 100 years ago, the Kettle Valley Rail Trail is now a multi-use recreational trail extending for a whopping 600 kilometres through BC’s Okanagan. It never exceeds a 2.2 per cent grade, so any bike capable of gravel-path riding will suffice. (Some people even use cruisers on shorter routes.) Lengths range from kid-friendly five-kilometre jaunts to multi-day epics passing over several of the 18 vertigo-inducing trestles and through two historic tunnels. For a paradisiacal day-trip, hire a shuttle to scoot you to the plateau above Kelowna then cruise an amazing 80 kilometres (half flat, half downhill) to Penticton.
Cycle Icefields Parkway (Banff/Jasper, Alberta)
Bridging the 232-kilometre gap between Banff and Jasper, Icefields Parkway is one of the most scenic highways in the world. Flanked by Rocky Mountain scenery, rife with glaciers, totally preserved within national parks and following a gentle undulation, it’s no wonder so many choose to drive this scenic route. But you’re not going to drive—you’ll be pedalling. Contact a tour company to carry your gear in a support vehicle and arrange nightly hotel/hostel accommodation—or go self-supported, if you’re experienced. And enjoy life in the slow lane.
Ride the River Valley (Edmonton, Alberta)
Any Edmontonian will tell you: the capital city of Alberta is not located in the prairies. It’s in the parkland. The difference? Parkland features dramatically undulating topography that is anything but flat. A perfect example of this is found in Edmonton’s River Valley Parks. Running alongside the muddy North Saskatchewan River, these parks comprise Canada’s largest urban greenspace and feature more than 160 kilometres of pathway. The best way to tour it is on two-wheels—bombing along the asphalt paths that lead from river-view to river-view, with perfect picnic stops along the way.
Ride Riding Mountain (Manitoba)
Manitoba may be one of our flattest provinces, but there is still some elevation to be found—in fact, Riding Mountain National Park reaches up to 756 metres above sea level. That’s why it has become such a desirable place to mountain bike. Along with the undulating trails, riders can enjoy the expansive view from atop the 65-million-year-old Manitoba Escarpment. Keep an eye out for moose and elk as you pedal, particularly during early morning or at dusk. Trail suggestions? An easy route is the Lakeshore Trail, or move on to the Wasagaming Bike Trail or the challenging Clear Lake Trail. Many more to discover!
Cycle the Land of the Anishinaabe (Manitoulin Island, Ontario)
Cycle the traditional lands of the Anishinaabe People—the Ojibwe, Odawa and Pottawatomi First Nations—via the meandering roads of Manitoulin Island. Routes range from 25 to 50-plus kilometres, 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.
Cycle the P’Tit Train du Nord (Laurentians, Quebec)
After the “Little Train of the North” (P’tit Train du Nord) ceased operations in the 1980s, its 200-kilometre-long track, extending into the Laurentians north of Montreal, was given new life. It re-opened in the mid-‘90s as an undulating bike path and has been attracting cyclists ever since. Some ride the full length over several days, others do day trips—but all enjoy the lush woodlands, calm lakes and charming towns along the way. Never steep and without motorized traffic, it’s a cyclist’s dream.
Bike Saint-Raymond (Quebec City, Quebec)
Located near Quebec City, this is the home to La Belle Province’s best mountain biking. Book a room at the Hotel Roquemont—the bike trails start right out back. This is where you can get warmed up on some classic cross-country routes. Then, drive to Vallee Bras du Nord, about 30 minutes away. Now it’s time to get serious with more than 70 kilometres of single track. Try the Nelson Trail for a mix of exciting riding and riverside scenery.
Cycle Two Provinces (Edmundston, New Brunswick)
Families will love Parc linéaire interprovincial Le Petit Témis. Built on an old railway, this meandering trail leads from Rivière-du-Loup, Quebec, to Edmundston, New Brunswick, along 134 kilometres of packed gravel. Both hikers and bikers enjoy this path; toilets, picnic tables and primitive campsites speckle the route. Ride the whole path, or tackle a short leg. Stops of note include Notre-Dam-du-Lac Beach on Lac-Témiscouata, New Brunswick Botanical gardens and the Trestle Bridge.
Cycle Cabot Trail (Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia)
Nova Scotia’s scenic Cabot Trail is a road ideal for a self-propelled pace. So grab your bike and set out on a six-day cycle tour through this diverse and culturally rich landscape—with a support vehicle packing your gear. Experience a dramatic coastal environment, which is particularly stunning in autumn; engage with vibrant Acadian culture. Hike secluded trails in a national park. View spouting whales and soaring eagles; golf at an oceanside course. Travel at a slower pace and connect with your environment in Canada’s Maritimes.
Cycle the Confederation Trail (PEI)
Once again, we see former industry turned to tourism with PEI’s Confederation Trail—a railway line converted into a cycling path. With typically flat topography, expect gentle cycles along any leg of this tip-to-tip island trail. More than 1,600 geocache sites are tucked along the route, which also passes through many towns for tastes of classic Maritime hospitality. Despite the 435-kilometre total length, it’s not an extreme cycle—more like a lovely ride that’s just about as long as you’d care to make it.
Bike Montana Mountain (Carcross, Yukon)
Yukon Govt/D. Crowe
Welcome to Canada’s new mountain bike mecca. Montana Mountain, located near the town of Carcross, is home to a biking culture that rivals famed locales like North Vancouver, BC, or Saint-Raymond, Quebec. There are 35 kilometres of single-track, ranging from greens to black-diamonds. Try the Mountain Hero Trail for the best experience—you might even ride past patches of snow, even in summer. In town, you can chow on pizza, grab a post-ride pint at the pub, sip coffee to get your day started and even sleep in cozy cabins.
Looking for More Adventures?
These 12 adventures are just the start.
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