Cycling Trails Around Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands – Our Top 5 Picks
On Vancouver Island, outdoor enthusiasts are typically within a few kilometres of the coast at any given time. Views of the Pacific Ocean and Coastal Mountains frame many of our favourite parks and hiking trails. If you’re a biking enthusiast, boating to some of the best coastal biking trails on Vancouver Island is an excellent way to experience a complete land and sea adventure, while getting fit and having fun.
The Gulf Islands often have higher elevations and are an ideal destination for a challenging coastal bike ride. Meanwhile, cities like Victoria feature a smooth, even waterfront route for those in the mood for a more meandering or family-friendly ride.
Below are just a few of our favourite destinations for cyclists around the Gulf Islands and Vancouver Island.
1. Biking Galiano Island
A 42 km return trip from Montague Harbour to Dionisio Park (also known as Coon Bay) and back, the biking on Galiano Island is hilly and requires a bit more stamina. Roads are narrow and there are no shoulders, but there are so many incredible views and parks to see that it’s worth the effort. If you’re up for a challenge, try hiking or mountain biking to the top of Mount Galiano. If you’re looking for a laid-back cycle, you can stop at any one of the parks on the island before retiring to your boat or to the lovely Galiano Inn and Spa for a bit of pampering.
2. Biking Lasqueti Island
Lasqueti residents are avid bikers and the island has one of the most well-organized biking communities around. There are no cars on the Lasqueti Ferry, so the gravel roads are relatively quiet and popular with bikers. Only 68-square km with no hydroelectric power, Lasqueti is an island where you can really escape, riding the 15 km stretch from the ferry terminal to Squitty Bay Provincial Park.
If you prefer, you can moor at the narrow coves of Squitty Bay and ride into town instead. At 30 km total, you’ll be ready for a swim in the warm waters of Squitty Bay by the end of your journey. Later on, you can boat over to nearby Jedediah Island to spend the night near its white sand beaches. Because Jedediah is only accessible by boat, it’s a very serene space to set anchor.
3. Biking the Seaside Touring Route, Victoria
Victoria is the cycling capital of Canada and is very bike-friendly. At any given time, you’ll see groups of bikers making their way through the downtown streets, around parks and cruising along the many designated bike lanes. One popular route is the Seaside Touring Route. At a total of 39 km, this is an easy trail network with plenty of entry and exit points. Being so bike-friendly means that Victoria has plenty of secure lock up spaces for your bike, to allow for sightseeing as well.
The route begins in James Bay, North America’s oldest residential neighbourhood. With a rich history and plenty of stunning views, it’s a fantastic way to start a long afternoon of cycling. Ride along the Ogden Point Breakwater, continue along to Dallas Road, where you can stop in at Beacon Hill Park to rest in the shade of the gardens with a snack. From there, keep cycling northeast through Oak Bay or Cadboro Bay. To stay on the loop, go north to connect to the Galloping Goose Trail, which will lead back to the centre of town.
4. Biking Salt Spring Island
The largest of the Gulf Islands, Salt Spring Island is an ideal spot to moor your boat and get out on your bike. With longer loops (35 km and 50 km) on relatively flat terrain, Salt Spring Island trails are excellent for exploring everything the Island has to offer. From wineries to artisan shops, enjoying the Island’s coastal biking trails is an enjoyable day trip. If you’re staying for one day, we recommend choosing just one of the loops, rather than trying to do both and missing out on all the art galleries and picnic spots scattered around. Salt Spring Island is also home to some amazing artisan cheese, so be sure to stop off at Saltspring Island Cheese or Moonstruck Organic Cheese.
Starting at the Long Harbour Ferry Terminal you can follow the Northern Route, which follows the northern tip of the island after some initial short and steep hills through forests of Arbutus and Douglas Fir trees. Or, you can choose the 50 km route which begins at the Ganges Ferry Terminal. Around 7 km from Ganges is a gorgeous white clamshell beach, which is ideal for a water break and a bit of a stretch before you continue along the route. Following Beaver Point Road, you can choose to head back to Ganges or continue on to Fulford Harbour. Note: The roads on Salt Spring Island can be quite busy at peak season, so it’s best to yield to ferry traffic in Ganges and Fulford Harbour.
5. Biking Yellow Point Road
South of Nanaimo, the Cedar and Yellowpoint areas offer a diverse bike ride filled with country and ocean views. Like the Gulf Islands, the area also abounds with local artisans, farms, cafes, pubs, orchards and more. Running 30 km, your route begins at CoCo Café on Cedar Road. Fuel up with a locally made breakfast and specialty coffee at this unique café before you hit the road. Cedar has narrow shoulders and some hilly areas, so always cycle with caution. Along the way, you can stop off at many different parks and beaches. Due to the popularity of biking in the area, the Yellowpoint Ecological Society is proposing a designated trail for pedestrians, cyclists and equestrians.
These are just a handful of the many beautiful cycling trails and pathways around Vancouver Island. With a mix of busier, tourist driven towns and quiet, hidden gems. It’s pretty much guaranteed that you’ll find a new place to explore on your bike wherever you decide to anchor. Challenge yourself or just enjoy a slow ride surrounded by wildlife. Whatever you choose, your boat can lead you to Vancouver Island’s greatest cycling trails on the coast.
Planning your summer adventures? Consider upgrading your boat to get the most out of every minute of your trips. At Van Isle Marina, we offer a wide variety of new luxury Pursuit boats as well as pre-loved yachts and cruisers. Whether you’re looking for a yacht big enough for the whole family or for a leisurely escape for two, our team at Van Isle Marina looks forward to helping you find the perfect boat. Contact us via phone or web form to get started or come see us in sunny Sidney, BC today.