Canada — the second largest nation on earth in terms of square kilometers. One of the best things about this country is how the geography changes from East to West, and it is from the saddle of a bicycle that you can explore Canada best. Each province brings something different to the traveler, from the Fundy shores of the east coast, to the bustling central cities of Ottawa and Toronto, to the Prairie miles of the Midwest and the stunning vistas of the Rocky Mountains on the west coast. Here are 25 of the best bicycle trails from across the country in each province and territory.
1. The Golden Triangle, Canadian Rockies
2. Vancouver Island’s Interurban Rail Trail
Vancouver Island is home to the Interurban Rail Trail, built on old railway track in the District of Saanich. It’s a 45km stretch of multi-purpose trail, connecting West and East Saanich, passing through several neighbourhoods, mostly on smooth gravel, the Interurban Rail Trail is a great way to see some of what Vancouver Island has to offer.
3. Kettle Valley Rail Trail
The Kettle Valley Rail Trail runs from Midway, BC to Hope, BC. It is six hundred kilometers of glorious travel throughout British Columbia. The Kettle Valley Rail Trail is a hallmark of cycling in British Columbia, featuring spectacular views of rivers and valleys, and the mountainous backdrop. Most of the trail is loose gravel, with a great degree of elevation gain — and at 600km in length, you should prepare for about 10-14 days of riding — if you ride at a good pace.
4. Banff Legacy Trail/Rocky Mountain Legacy Trail
Located in Banff National Park, the Banff Legacy, or the Rocky Mountain Legacy Trail takes you from the East Gate of the Park to the Bow River Valley Parkway, with almost 27 kilometers of glorious riding through the stunning beauty of the Rocky Mountains on a paved trail meandering through some of Alberta’s most beautiful places. You’re able to ride two-abreast and stop for a picnic at multiple rest stops along the way. The entire route should take you between 2-3 hours to complete.
5. Highway 40 — Road
Length: 150 km
Ride through glorious Kananaskis Country! Starting from Longview, you will be passing through some of the best provincial Parks in Alberta (plenty of rest stops, campgrounds) and the highest paved pass in Canada- located at the tree line. If you bike before mid June, Highway 40 South of 742 is closed to traffic — you can have the time of your life riding the trail and have great workout!
6. The Icefields Parkway, Jasper National Park — Road Cycling
The Icefields Parkway is the crown jewel of bicycling in Alberta. It’s a 230km ride on well-paved and well maintained roadways (so, you should be cautious when riding on the road). The Icefields Parkway winds through Jasper National Park, taking in spectacular highlights — views of glaciers, animal spotting — bighorn sheep sometimes occupy the higher reaches of the Icefields Parkway route. You’ll wind through picturesque forests and stunning mountainous vistas — it is, above all, the scenery which makes the Icefields Parkway one of Canada’s top cycling destinations.
7. Meewasin Valley Trail, Saskatchewan
The Meewasin Trail intersects with the Trans Canada Trail, and that section is roughly 20km that runs alongside the South Saskatchewan River. You’ll wind through both city and urban areas on a loose gravel trail, though there are some paved sections. Like most of the Prairies, Meewasin Valley is incredibly flat — therefore there is almost zero feet of elevation gain, so you can expect a flat, pleasant ride along the river.
Trail Map Link
8. Battlefords Trails, Saskatchewan
Length: ~40km (cumulatively)
The town of Battleford and the city of North Battleford make up a region in western Saskatchewan, famous for their multi-use trail system. There are numerous trails in the two locations, separated by a few kilometers. There is one trail called the North Shore Trail which is a favourite among cyclists and hikers, it’s a 25 kilometer stretch along the north shore of the Saskatchewan, riding along natural trails which are well kept and groomed in the Summer, ready for use. Suitable for most beginner and intermediate riders.
9. Falcon Lake Mountain Bike Trails, Manitoba
Falcon Lake is located 160km to the east of Winnipeg and is a popular resort year-round. During the Summer, it is especially a hit for those in the mountain biking community, with 6km of trails varying in difficult and height, located over the Canadian Shield. The trails are a zig-zagging loop over rocks and other rough terrain, offering both double and single track through dirt roads, as with everything in the Canadian Shield, altitude is to be expected, and you can expect some short, steep climbing on these trails.
10. Pinawa Trail – Manitoba
Part of Trans Canada Trail, this 27 km of trail will take you fromPinawa Dam Provincial Park, Manitoba’s very first hydroelectric plant to the Seven Sisters Generating Station. Located very near Winnipeg, this trail that passes along Winnipeg River, offers you a glimpses of wildlife and excellent oppurtunities to bird watch.
11. Waterfront Trail, Ontario
Length: 1400 km and growing.
Established in 1995 with a 270km multi-use route from Hamilton to Trenton as part to regenerate Ontario waterfront, Ontario’s Waterfront Trail is glorious 1400 km trail that covers 2 Great Lakes, 3 bi-national rivers, 3 UNESCO Biospheres, 19 Provincial Parks, 3 National Parks, including Canada ’ s first National Urban Park and 15 National Historical Sites. Whether you decide to bike from Niagara to Quebec following Lake Ontario, or a 45 km stretch nestled in the heart of the Thousand Islands – Gananoque to Brockville, or go exploring the grand beaches on the shores of Lake Huron or birding at Pelee National Park, Ontario’s Waterfront Trail will take you through the best of Ontario on Bike!
12. The Rideau Heritage Route, Ontario
The Rideau Heritage Route runs from Ottawa to Kingston, and begins at the Rideau Canal in Ottawa, or Hogs Back Road in Kingston, depending on which way you wish to travel. The route from Ottawa to Kingston will take your through some of the greatest countryside that eastern Ontario has to offer.
13. Niagara River Recreational Trail
The Niagara Parkway Trail, also known as the Niagara River Recreational Trail is a multi-use trail spanning some 53km along the Canadian side of the Niagara River. You’ll pass by many historical monuments to men who lost their lives during the War of 1812 and then you’ll head up to a monument on a hilltop, celebrating the life of Major-General Sir Isaac Brock, who died defending Canada during the war of 1812.
Riders should exercise caution, as some sections of the trail are shared with road users, and you are expected all of the normal road rules and trail etiquette.
You may like: Top Bike Routes to Explore Ontario
14. La Route Verte, Quebec
La Route Verte (“The Green Route”) is probably one of the best cycling routes in North America, if not the world, and is definitely in the top five in Canada. It begins as you enter Quebec, either from Ontario or New Brunswick, and encompasses almost the entire province. Taking you through darling French townships on the east coast, bustling cities such as Montreal, and up through the glorious green forestry in Northwestern Quebec to the border with Ontario.
15. Gaspe Coast, Quebec
Quebec’s east coast — known as the Gaspe Coast — provides some of the most beautiful cycling in the province.If you follow most cyclists, then you’ll start at Mont-Joli, with the wind at your back and loop the Gaspe Coast clockwise. Heading north from Mont-Joli will see you interact with the northern end of the Appalachians and the Chic-Choc Mountains, which — although not as high as their Western Canadian counterparts, will make for some hard climbing. If you’re going to tour this route in its totality, then you might want to allot yourself somewhere in the region of two weeks to complete it.
16. Madawaska Trails, Edmundston – New Brunswick
Madawaska-Edmundston is home to some of the province’s most beautiful mountain bike trails. Located just west of the city with very easy access from the downtown core, the trails are various lengths and difficulties, so it’s great for all ages. The trail system is very well maintained and evolves throughout the seasons from muddy and wet in Spring to dry and dusty in the Summer time. All in all, Madawaska Trails are your exciting escape from the city life of Edmundston.
17. The Fundy Trail – New Brunswick
Experience the beauty of Bay of Fundy, the Fundy Trail takes you through beaches, waterfalls and great lookouts! Cranberry Brook Trail, a 16km trail meandering the Fundy Coastline, taking you right along the shore to the Cranberry Brook lookout, which gives you another opportunity to take in the beauty of Fundy National Park and the Bay of Fundy in its totality.
18. The Cabot Trail, Nova Scotia
19. Celtic Shores Coastal Trail, Cape Breton Island – Nova Scotia
Cape Breton Island is home to some of the best cycling on the east coast of Canada. There is one trail in particular — the Celtic Shores Coastal Trail — which offers 92 kilometers of flat, easy riding along the west coast of the island, discovering the Celtic of Eastern Canada, with towns such as Inverness — twinned with Inverness of Scotland — and ride through many stop-off points where you can experience Celtic villages, complete with festivals and concerts harkening back to their native Scottish and Irish shores.
20. The Confederation Trail, Prince Edward Island
The Confederation Trail was first conceived in the early 1990s, following the abandonment of a Prince Edward Island trans-provincial railroad, people noticed an opportunity to transform the abandoned railroad into something that could be used by all, but on two wheels. Thus, the Confederation Trail was born. One continuous trail, from the northwest tip of the Island in Tignish, to its finishing point at Elmira. There are also a series of branch trails, taking you to several different destinations, including the Provincial Capital of Charlottetown.
21. The Avalon Peninsula, Newfoundland and Labrador
This multi-day ride around the Avalon Peninsula will be tough and challenging, but simultaneously beautiful. You’ll be riding alongside the infamous icebergs of the Newfoundland Coast, as well as experiencing the life of coastal towns and the provincial capital of St. Johns. If you wake early enough, you can even be the first person in North America to see the sunrise at Cape Spear.
22. Trans-Labrador Highway, Newfoundland and Labrador
The Trans-Labrador Highway ( Route 500/510) is a relatively new construction in Labrador, construction beginning in 2009 and Phase I of the project being completed in 2014. Labrador is sparsely populated, and so you should try to be as self-contained (including a satellite phone, and this is bear country) as possible if you choose to ride the Trans-Labrador Highway, and it should take you around two weeks to complete. OR if you just want a taste of it, you can also bike the 180 km section of Goose Bay and Churchill Falls.
23. The Dempster Highway, Yukon
Prepare to experience remote wilderness. Cycling in the Yukon ultimately comes down to one highway — the Dempster Highway — spanning 737.5km, beginning in the Yukon and terminating in Inuvi, Nunavut. The Dempster is a 700km leg of the Trans-Canada Trail, and is paved for some sections, while others are loose gravel or dirt road, so be sure to carry some tough tires (such as Schwalbe’s Marathon Plus), and several spare tubes. The Dempster is a challenging but stunning experience in Canada’s north.
24. The Great Trail – Trans Canada Trail
Canada is home to many spectacular cycling destinations. From mountains and valleys to forests and beaches — coast to coast — this country provides every cyclist with something different. In typical Canadian style, however, Canada has created what is known as “The Great Trail” — the longest connected trail network (not all are bike paths) in the world spans the country from coast to coast, going through every province.