Biking Across Canada

A Long-Distance Cycling Community

Province by Province

A list of *suggested* routes across each province

There is no best route across Canada. In general, aim for the major urban centres to stock-up on supplies in order to enjoy exploring the regions between. Use the below suggestions as an outline while planning your trip - roads change so much that some of this information will be outdated by the time you go on tour.

Also, for reference, see the maps page.

British Columbia

The Trans-Canada Mile 0 marker in Victoria is located at Dallas Road & Douglas Street. Dip your wheels in the Pacific at nearby Holland Point Park.

In Vancouver, bicycles are not permitted on the Trans-Canada. Cyclists should travel on Route 7 (aka the Lougheed Highway) instead on the north shore of the Fraser River (through Port Coquitlam-Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge). In Mission one can cross back over the river and in Abbotsford get on a parallel road to the Trans-Canada.

If you wish a more remote ride through BC (and contact with bears!), another mile 0 is located in Prince Rupert. This is the start of the Yellowhead highway which crosses the western provinces.

Once in the mountains, watch out for gravel in the slide tunnels and along shoulders.

If staying in the south, at Castlegar there are two routes to choose from:
(1) stay south, taking the Salmo-Creston Pass. It is shorter but more difficult.
(2) veer north, around Kootenay Lake and down to Creston for an easier ride.

Stop in Cranbrook for supplies before the last push into the Crowsnest Pass and out of the Rockies.

From Hope, follow the Crowsnest Highway #3 though Manning Park and along the south edge of the Okanagan east to Castlegar and then north on Highway #6 to Revelstoke.

BC City Cycling Maps:

Alberta

Said to have best pavement quality in the country.

From Canmore, take Highway 1A to Calgary. There is a leisurely path along the north bank of the Bow River into Calgary with only one big hill east of Cochrane.

At Strathmore (east of Calgary) head north, then east on highway #9, which takes you through Drumheller (dig for Dinosaurs!). Continue east on #9 across the flat Alberta prairie past Oyen to Alsask on the border.

Alberta City Cycling Maps:

Saskatchewan

In western Saskatchewan, #9 turns into #44, which connects to #342, which connects to #4 to Swift Current, back on the Trans-Canada towards Regina.

The northern Yellowhead highway cuts through Saskatoon and the southerly Trans-Canada goes through Regina.

Southern Saskatchewan is flatter than the north.

Expect strong prairie winds, exposed sun and mosquitos.

Not many places to wild camp. Always ask before setting up on someone's land!

How flat is Saskatchewan?

Saskatchewan City Cycling Maps:

Manitoba

The Trans-Canada Highway in Manitoba has a bad reputation (speedy trucks and gravel narrow shoulders). Here is how to avoid it:

Before the town of Virden, take #83 north to Miniota, #24 east to Rapid City, #10 north to Minnedosa, and #16 east to Portage La Prairie. From there, take #26 which detours north through Poplar Point, ending up on the western outskirts of Winnipeg.

East of Winnipeg head along #15 east to Elma, up #11 and east on #44 through Whiteshell Provincial Park past Falcon Lake, finally hitting the Trans-Canada at the Ontario border

Manitoba City Cycling Map:

Ontario

Some describe from Winnipeg to Thunder Bay as the most dangerous and terrifying part of their journey due to narrow shoulders and speeding trucks.

To avoid it, a detour through the US is required. Just after Kenora, take #71 south to Fort Frances on the Minnesota USA border. Cross the border and follow #53 to Duluth. Here, turn east along #2 and follow the well-settled south shore of Lake Superior to Sault Ste Marie. This avoids a very remote road, with narrow shoulders and heavy truck traffic, as well as a stretch with lots of carnivorous wildlife (like bears) which can make roadside camping awkward.

Another option is to head directly south From Winnipeg to Grand Forks, North Dakota. Then follow Route #2 eastward all the way to Sault Ste. Marie.

From Espanola, a bit west of Sudbury, head south via Manitoulin Island, taking the ferry from Baymouth to Tobermory, and down the Bruce peninsula to Owen Sound, and then east on country roads through Orillia, Bancroft and Renfrew in the lush Ottawa River Valley.

From Renfrew head along #3 and then #5 alongside the River, avoiding the very heavily trafficked 417 divided highway into Ottawa. In Ottawa follow the Ottawa River Parkway into the city. East of Ottawa take the old highway #17 (may not be the best choice, see Notes from Bruce below), again avoiding the 417 divided highway, and crossing into Quebec over the Ottawa River at Hawkesbury to Grenville, and then following #344 southeast into Montreal, via Oka.

Ontario City Cycling Maps:

La Route Verte

This La Route Verte sign suggests we head into the bush.

Quebec

In 2009, La Route Verte was ranked #1 cycle route in the world by National Geographic.

The route contains more than 4,000 km of designated bike paths and rural roads across the province.

Word of caution: don't put all your trust in the signs along the route (see photo). They can sometimes lead to a detour far from your destination.

Don't be sad if you can't speak French. Lost bike tourists in small Quebec villages are a common site. Locals are always helpful pointing out the next campsite or a good restaurant. If you are travelling along the popular La Route Verte, you can always ask other cyclists for assistance too.

The island of Montreal is crisscrossed with bicycle paths. To get downtown, ask anyone how to get to Atwater Market or the Maisonneuve bike path. Mont Royal (Montreal's downtown hill) is also a good landmark to aim for.

To exit the island, follow the Maisonneuve bike path eastward. Go under the Jacques Cartier bridge and down to the river. Adjacent to Rue Notre-Dame is la Route Verte #5. Follow it north-east with the St. Lawrence River always on your right. Montreal to Trois-Rivières is 140km.

From Trois-Rivières to Quebec City it's another 140km.

At Quebec City cross over to the south shore, through Levis and continue north-east on Route Verte #1.

At Rivière-du-loup, head right towards Edmundston, New Brunswick.

Québec City Cycling Maps:

New Brunswick

After Edmundston, follow the St John river all the way to Fredericton.

From Sussex, take #114 southeast along the Fundy Coast, and then up the Peticodiac River to Moncton. From Moncton, take #106 (closer to the waterway) rather than the #2 highway, into Sackville on the Nova Scotia border.

New Brunswick City Cycling Map:

Prince Edward Island

It is illegal to cycle across the Confederation Bridge. A shuttle bus takes cyclists across. More information about the schedule and cost on the Confederation Bridge website.

Once over, find signs for Confederation Trail and follow it to Charlottetown.

The Confederation Trail is a well designated tip-to-tip 273km bicycle tour that runs more or less through the centre of the island. Information on the trail here.

The Woods Islands Ferry Terminal to NB is located in the south-east region of the island. Northumberland Ferries Limited information here.

Prince Edward Island City Cycling Map:

Nova Scotia

in Turo or New Glasgow decide if you go south to Halifax or north-east up to North Sydney to catch a ferry to Newfoundland.

continuing to Sydney, take the Trans-Canada across and cross onto Cape Breton.

Cape Breton is a popular cycling destination. If you have the time, a tour around the coast to see the vistas is worth it. Lonely Planet has ranked the route as #9 best in the world.

Nova Scotia City Cycling Maps:

Newfoundland and Labrador

From North Sydney there are two ferry options to Newfoundland:
(1) North Sydney to Port aux Basques (everyday)
(2) North Sydney to Argentia (3 times a week)

Visit Marine Atlantic Ferries for sailing details.

If starting at Port aux Basques, you'll take the T'Railway Provincial Park across the island. This video slideshow shows some of the terrain (903 km to St John's).

If starting from Argentia, take #100 up to Trans-Canada and head east (134 km to St John's).

Lots of mountain climbs in Newfoundland...no easy end to the trip!

If crossing Labrador (mainland), there is much distance between towns. Be prepared to wild camp and the possibility of a meet & greet with bears. Some friends biked through in 2011 and posted photos on these two pages of their blog, A long way from no where and Goose Bay Goodness.

Newfoundland City Cycling Map:

Suggestions from Bruce

Route #17 from Ottawa to Hawkesbury on the way to the Newfoundland ferry in 2009 - found it very dangerous with little or no shoulder and heavy, speeding trafic most of the way. Also took route 289 to Edmunston NB. instead of route 185. It’s a great ride.