We had an unforgettable 9 weeks cycling through Canada. It’s hard to narrow down all the amazing rides to a highlights list, but we’ve given it our best shot. Here are our top picks, in order!
1. Canyon to Crawford Bay (British Columbia), 52 miles
Our favourite ride of the Canadian leg. The ride started with a steep descent and a few hundred metres in we had an incredible view over the deep Goat River Canyon. We then descended to Creston, where we visited the first fruit stand we saw and the owner gave us peaches, plums and courgettes for free! Shortly afterwards we hit Highway 3A and had views to our left of Kootenay Lake the entire day. There are numerous mountains to look at, beaches for swimming and sites to see; like the weird Glass House, made of over 500,000 embalming bottles! We stayed at Crawford Bay, which has a fantastic general store and a great campground (Kokanne Chalets) with wifi, a wetlands walk to the beach and a hot tub.
2. Caliper Lake to Rushing River (Ontario), 64 miles
Camping at Caliper Lake is breath-taking. Our pitch was right on the lake and we had the beach and floating dock all to ourselves. We woke up early for an amazing sunrise and followed the highway all the way to Rushing River Provincial Park. All day long we had lakes on either side of the road. Many of the lakes have small islands in the middle with trees and even small houses that owners boat to. The whole ride has a Jurassic feel to it and you really feel close to nature the whole way.
3. Grand Forks to Rock Creek (British Columbia), 53 miles
You’ll spend the day cycling through time warp towns, along rivers and looking at mountains. We camped at the excellent Grand Forks municipal campground and started the day climbing 16 miles to Eholt Summit. Along the way you’ll see the beautiful Jewel Lake to your right through the trees; don’t miss it! Then you’ll descend through fruit orchards to Greenwood, ‘Canada’s smallest city’, which used to be an important mining city with an opera house and big industry. It’s now an amazing little place with Wild West facades and hippy houses. From there you’ll pick up the Kettle River and wind your way to the quaint town of Rock Creek. Check out the coffee roasters and pick up a bag while you’re there!
4. Marble Canyon to Radium Hot Springs (British Columbia), 57 miles
Marble Canyon was our first campground in British Columbia and very memorable for its remote beauty and our first experience with bear lockers! The ride starts with a long freewheel and then a sweeping left-hand curve towards Wolverine Pass. As we cycled around that corner we had perhaps the best view of the trip to date. We both welled up as we were in awe at the sight of huge snowcapped mountains, emerald-green rivers and glorious fir trees. The rest of the ride follows the Kootenay River along Highway 93 until it kicks west towards Radium Hot Spring. We knew all day that Sinclair Pass was coming, so prepared for the long ascent to the summit at Olive Lake. Having climbed to 4,875ft, you’re rewarded with amazing views and an exhilarating 11km descent into Radium Hot Springs.
5. Salt Spring Island (British Columbia), 33 miles
We arrived early at Vancouver so we took the memorable ferry ride to Salt Spring Island (SSI). We were warned SSI is hilly but weren’t prepared for the constant up and down, and high gradients of some of the hills. From our campground in Ganges we cycled to Beddis Beach; an amazingly tranquil spot with great views of the other islands. Then we cycled passed numerous tiny fruit stands to Ruckle Provincial Park. You can cycle up to a few viewpoints and we had lunch while watching seals and black dorsal finned mammals that could have been dolphins, porpoises or even orcas! From Ruckle Provincial Park we wound down to the hippyish Fulford Harbour, before heading back to Ganges via the vast Burgoyne Bay. Whilst on SSI we also cycled down to Bader’s Beach. There’s a very steep 19% dirt road to the beach but it’s an amazing place that’s very quiet and has stunning views to Vancouver Island.
6. Lake Louise (Alberta) to Marble Canyon (British Columbia), 38 miles
We woke up very early to cycle to Lake Louise to avoid the busload of tourists. This was a great move but it was extremely cold and, even in August, we were wearing all the layers we had. We didn’t appreciate that Lake Louise was at the top of a big hill, so we soon warmed up climbing up to the Fairmont Hotel. Without the tourists Lake Louise really is as incredible as everyone says. We stayed for an hour or so taking pictures and then, when all the buses started rolling in at 8:30am, we left and picked up the Bow Valley Parkway to Castle Mountain. The 1A is an excellent alternative to the Trans-Canada and a rare example of a quieter, cycle-friendly road that also doesn’t add unnecessary miles. There are loads of places to stop and enjoy the view, and its mainly downhill heading south. At Castle Mountain we picked up Highway 93 and climbed the Vermillion Pass; one of the ten highest mountain passes in Canada. It’s an amazing road but at first we thought it maybe closed, because it was so dead! When you get close to Marble Canyon there are incredible views of lakes and virtually no traffic.
7. Nancy Greene to Grand Forks (British Columbia), 43 miles
The previous day we’d cycled most of the way up to Paulson Summit (5,036ft, Bonanza Pass) and slept in the communal kitchen shelter at Nancy Greene Provincial Park! We got an awesome reward with a winding descent towards Christina Lake. A definite highlight was the terrifying Paulson Bridge; we stopped on the bridge to take a picture, but quickly continued, as we daren’t even pause for a few seconds with the phenomenal drop we could see underneath us! Once you pass Christina Lake the landscape changes dramatically. This was our first sight of the desert-like backdrop that we’d follow through Okanagan till we hit Manning Provincial Park. It’s an incredible sight, and a stark contrast to the lush mountains, rivers and trees we’d been cycling through.
8. Thornbury to Wiarton (Ontario), 59 miles
This ride was incredibly varied and a great way to see the amazing different landscapes Ontario has to offer. We started by cycling to Meaford, and following the diversions around the enormous 1,000ft waterslide that had overtaken the town! We continued through flat farmlands to Owen Sound, where we picked up the stunning Grey Bruce coastal road along Highway 1. The road takes you via some great attractions and viewing spots, including the Women’s Institute memorial and lookout at Kemble, the quaint Keppel Croft Gardens and stunning little pier at the ironically named Big Bay. As you near Wiarton there are incredible oceanside houses and palm trees line the road. Sadly, Wiarton Willie is no more, but you’ll still find a statue of the groundhog in the town centre to welcome you to the campground!
9. Manning Provincial Park to Hope (British Columbia), 43 miles
This was another great downhill reward for accomplishing a tough mountain pass (Allison, 4,403ft) the previous day. We camped as close as we could to the summit (at Coldspring campground) and then wound our way to Hope via the awesome Crowsnest Highway. There are loads of lookouts en route and some of the best mountain views we had in Canada. As you approach Hope you can stop and see the fairly macabre aftermath of the Hope Slide, and from there it’s a steep descent into the town where Rambo was filmed!