3 cycling adventures in BC

A sampler of British Columbia bicycle trips

What do you want from a BC bike trip? Rolling island hills, century-old forests, abandoned mining towns, sun-warmed wineries? I’ve cycled all these routes and they are the first ones that popped into my head when Westender asked me for a real locals’ knowledge recommendation.

To help you out I’ve linked to the official tourism site for most towns. Some links will take you to official Tourism BC pages, including driving instructions. Just ignore the driving part and plan your own trip from their maps.

Cyclists emerging from a railway tunnel

Tunnels on the Kettle Valley Railway, above Penticton. Photo: Jack Christie.

Easy: Kettle Valley Railway

The Kettle Valley Railway is a fairly flat, rail-to-trail that spans almost 1000 km of BC’s interior. You can ride any section of the trail, which extends between Hope and Castlegar. Cycling tour company Great Explorations out of Vancouver (for whom I used to guide) divides the route into 3 manageable stages:

  1. Castlegar to Beaverdell
  2. Beaverdell to Princeton
  3. Coalmont to Hope

Tip: ride the trail east-to-west to take advantage of its two percent downhill grade.

Moderate: Coastal Circle loop

For a two-coast, three-ferry circle adventure, head for the Island. To start, catch a BC Ferry from West Vancouver to Nanaimo on Vancouver Island. Stock up in Nanaimo then ride up the east coast of the island on the old Island highway to the town of Comox. Cross by sea (aboard another BC ferry) eastwards to Powell River–you may want to make a northern detour to funky little Lund and Savary Island— then pedal down the Sunshine Coast (coastal, mainland BC) and back into West Vancouver.

Tip: If you feel lazy, you can throw your bike on public transit at Sechelt on the Sunshine Coast.

Challenging: Cassair Highway

Ride, drive or bus to Terrace in northern BC, then pedal the paved, wide-shouldered Cassair Highway (Hwy 37) northwards into Dease Lake and beyond. This stunning, smooth highway is not as famous as the Alaska Highway, but sightings of grizzlies and cougars on the Spatzizi Plateau could spice things up.

Tip: Pack plenty of bug and bear repellant.

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