The Best Bike Trail in Every Province
Not only is cycling fantastic exercise, it also presents the opportunity to see pristine parts of the country you can't always reach by car. Here are the most scenic bike routes across Canada.
Photo: Mirae Campbell
British Columbia: Kettle Valley Rail Trail
One of British Columbia’s most famous bike trails, the 600-kilometre Kettle Valley Rail Trail follows an abandoned railway bed, that weaves its way from the Kootenays to the Okanagan and onto the Fraser Valley. If you’re wine tasting in the Okanagan region, one of the easiest points of entry is the Glen Fir rest area. From here, you’ll enjoy a two per cent downhill grade all the way into Penticton, making this section a pleasurable, gravity-assisted experience. In addition to sparkling views of Lake Okanagan, you’ll cycle past neatly parcelled vineyards–with plenty of opportunities for wine pit stops.
As provincial heath regulations vary, please check regional travel advisories and trail conditions before finalizing your plans.
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Photo: Government of Alberta
Alberta: Legacy Trail
One of the most popular activities in Banff National Park is cycling the Legacy Trail, which just turned the dial on one million riders. This multi-use, paved pathway extends from the town of Canmore (just outside the Banff National Park East Gate) into the town of Banff, and continues onto the Bow Valley Parkway. People of all ages and abilities cycle the route, which winds its way past the majestic Rockies. Families, meanwhile, might want to take advantage of the slight downhill grade from Banff to Canmore, which takes approximately two hours to complete.
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Saskatchewan: Meewasin Valley Trails
Flanking both sides of the South Saskatchewan River in Saskatoon lies the Meewasin Valley Trails. Meewasin is a Cree word that means “it is beautiful,” and the valley certainly lives up to its name—you’ll pedal past inspiring vistas, many swaying with native grasslands. The entire trail system is 80 kilometres long, but it’s easy to bite off small bits at a time. Head to Meewasin Northeast Swale for a 24-kilometre loop to view the wetlands, short-eared owls and sharp-tailed grouse. Ambitious folks can also cycle from Wanuskewin Heritage Park to Cranberry Flats in under two hours.
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Photo: Wildhouse Media
Manitoba: Reeve’s Ravine Trail
In Riding Mountain National Park, a three-hour drive northwest of Winnipeg, lies the ever popular Reeve’s Ravine Trail. This flowy, single-track mountain bike trail along the ravine’s edge is one of the best ways to get up close and personal with the Manitoba escarpment. There are three moderate mountain biking trails to experience (about 2.5 kilometres each); you can do the full seven-kilometre trail, taking in some of the best views in the entire park.
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Photo: Niagara Parks
Ontario: Niagara River Recreation Trail
Looking for bike trails with variety? Consider hitting up the 56 kilometres of trails along the Niagara Parkway. Gently ease your way in along the Northern Parkway Trail that begins at Niagara-on-the-Lake. Smooth, paved trails make cycling a breeze, and you’re sure to be tempted to marvel at the Niagara Gorge. The South Parkway Trail is ideal for beginners and road bikers with no major elevation changes. Those looking for more of a challenge, however, should cycle onto historic Fort Erie—a feat that takes approximately three hours. Take advantage of seasonal summer GO Transit service between Toronto’s Union Station and the Niagara Falls Station, situated one block from the Recreation Trail.
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Quebec: Blueberry Route
The Blueberry Route is a picturesque 256-kilometre loop that takes the better part of three days to accomplish. The trail flows through the Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean region, about a two-hour drive north of Quebec City. Despite the oh-so pretty pastoral scenes you’ll cycle through, the best part of this journey is actually how easy it is, even for novices. Bike trails don’t get more user-friendly than this one—volunteer ambassadors are there to provide assistance along the trail.
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Photo: Tourism New Brunswick
New Brunswick: Grand Manan Island
Windswept views along craggy coastlines are what’s in store for cyclists on New Brunswick’s Grand Manan Island. Take a ferry from the mainland and experience firsthand why Grand Manan is considered one of the world’s best small islands. You’ll cover more than 70 kilometres of shoreline along the island’s 18 bike trails, which vary in length for both beginners and advanced cyclists. As you cycle past postcard-worthy lighthouses, be sure to cast your eyes out to sea to spot one of the many varieties of whales that call the Bay of Fundy home.
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Photo: Scott Munn/Tourism Nova Scotia
Nova Scotia: Cabot Trail
One of Canada’s most famous and picturesque routes, the Cabot Trail laces its way through the Cape Breton Highlands. Most riders begin their journey along the paved 298-kilometre loop in the village of Baddec, about a four hour drive from Halifax or 45 minutes from Sydney (where you can fly into). Ride the trail clockwise if you fancy a glute workout with plenty of hill action, or strike out counter-clockwise for sweeping views of the sea. Whichever way you choose, you’ll be rewarded with old growth forests, a dramatic coastline and plenty of fresh seafood along the way.
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Photo: John Sylvester/Tourism PEI
Prince Edward Island: Confederation Trail
Spanning from one end of Prince Edward Island to the other, Confederation Trail, despite its length at 449 kilometres, is surprisingly good for beginner cyclists. That’s because the route is relatively flat along paved and rolled stoned dust surfaces. While you could cycle the trail in its entirety, it’s best to split it up between the regions. The Northern Cape route is rated mostly easy-to-moderate, though you will have some hills to climb as you cruise through the potato farmlands. Along the Central Coast, you’ll come across wetlands and woodlots before making your way into Charlottetown. Some of the most scenic photo opportunities, however, are found on the eastern section between Morell and Elmira.
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Photo: Michael Winsor
Newfoundland and Labrador: Viking Trail
You’ll want to set aside at least 10 days to cycle Newfoundland’s Viking Trail. Start in the city of Deer Lake to make your way towards St. Anthony, just outside L’Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site. The 600-kilometre trek will test your mettle if the wind isn’t at your back, but it delivers big rewards with glinting icebergs floating by and the occasional moose meandering past. There’s a good chance you’ll happen upon a music festival in any number of small towns too, so budget in a few late morning starts—especially if you get invited to a kitchen party!
If you liked our round-up of the best bike trails, check out the best hikes across Canada.