Credit: Travel Alberta
Are you looking to do some two-wheeled touring on Canada's best bicycle routes? Here are five essential destinations for travelling cyclists:
Williams Lake Trails, BC
When discussing single-track mountain biking, most people tend to think Vancouver’s North Shore has it locked-down. Most people are wrong. About 600 km north of VanCity, a lesser-known MTB mecca awaits: Williams Lake. Imagine: more than 300 km of marked trails servicing a local population of less than 20,000 residents. The popular Westsyde Trail Network (97 km of single-track) and Fox Mountain Trail Network (25 km of single-track) are two great options. Each has near-even divisions of beginner, intermediate and advanced terrain as well as downhill, cross-country and all-mountain routes.
Banff Legacy Trail, AB
Built to commemorate the 125th anniversary of Banff National Park, the Banff Legacy Trail is a shockingly scenic paved path than runs 26 km from the park’s east gate to downtown Banff. Many choose to ride one-way west-east, due to the slight drop in elevation, but in-shape riders may prefer to power through the full 56 km and finish with a patio pint back in Banff. Watch out for electrified mats at known wildlife crossing; your rubber tires will protect you, but should you put your foot down you may get a minor jolt. Other than that, the route is all-Banff: postcard scenery, if a little crowded.
Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park, AB/SK
Representing the highest point in Canada between the Rocky Mountains and Labrador, Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park is a prairieland recreational hotspot. Fit for intermediate to experienced cross-country mountain bikers, there are 27 km of trails on the Saskatchewan side and 16 km on the Alberta side — offering technical terrain that crosses coulees and aspen and pine forests and offers boundless Prairie views. September is a great time to visit, as the park is dry, daytime temperatures are pleasant, fall foliage is in full-effect and crowds, of which there are never many, have thinned out. Après ride, indulge your star-gazing desires at the near-40,000-hectare Dark Sky Preserve.
Northumberland Rice Lake Ramble, ON
Northumberland County, located just an hour-and-a-half northeast of Toronto, offers quiet lakeside routes popular with Big City cyclists. The Rice Lake Ramble, which starts in Cobourg and heads north to Rice Lake and back, is a 74-km road-route that can be hammered out in a day or stretched out over two if you fancy scenic stops and accommodation at a hotel, B&B or campground at Rice Lake. Via Rail passenger trains now feature bike racks, so if visiting from Toronto, you can leave the car at home.
Isle Aux Coudres, QC
Located in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, about 35 km north of Quebec City and accessed via ferry from St Joseph de la Rive, Isle Aux Coudres is 20-sq-km of flatland bicycle terrain, Francophone heritage and hazelnut groves. About 40 km of bicycle routes encircle the island; most cut through character towns with lovely eateries, stone churches, heritage sites and viewpoints a-plenty. Two campsites and more than a dozen hotels and/or B&Bs speckle the island. September sees vibrant fall colours and fewer crowds. Although the island is small and presents an easy ride (100-metre maximum elevation), plan a weekend to fully explore one of the region’s finest bicycle excursions and cultural gem of Quebec.