Touring - Vancouver Island Trans Canada Trail
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05-07-07, 11:56 AM
Has anyone here cycled the Trans Canada Trail on Vancouver Island, Victoria to Nanaimo area? I am looking for a trip for hubby and I to do as a very first cycle camping tour on a 3 day long weekend. It sounds great, but until I can get a copy of the map, can anyone comment on it?
How hilly is it and what type of terrain? Seems like the TCT is often gravel paths and bridges. It looks like it would be about 200 km, does that sound right?
What's with the little triangle part that sticks out west from Duncan to Lake Cowichan and back again? Is it possible skip that part and just keep going north to meet up with the trail again? That extra part makes up about 60 km of the trip, which makes a difference as to whether we can do it or not.
How easy would it be to do the trail and camp at campgrounds on the way?
Thanks, this place is great!
I spent some time at the beginning of April cycling on Vancouver Island, and don't recall ever coming across the TCT. However if it is anything like the roads on the island, it will be hilly.
I did that bit from Duncan out to Lake Cowichan and back twice when I was there (on the road, not on the trail) and it was quite scenic. I prefered the lower road (old highway) because it was smoother and had less traffic.
There seemed to be campgrounds all over the place on the island, so I don't imagine it would be too difficult to find something.
And bring your rain gear!
05-07-07, 04:25 PM
from this website:
it would appear to be a project-in-process...
05-07-07, 04:33 PM
Bummer. I was hoping there was such a (finished) beast after reading the OP's post.
I've ridden the bike route from Victoria to Sidney...we did it in about half the time we thought we would--1.5 hours? I don't remember...we had lots of time to spare before the 11am ferry. It's FLAT. :) And, when we got to Sidney, we had a lovely breakfast at a corner cafe, sitting in the sunshine.... ah yes ...sunshine...someday....
05-07-07, 08:13 PM
And, when we got to Sidney, we had a lovely breakfast at a corner cafe, sitting in the sunshine...
We were in Sidney last June on our way from Victoria to the ferry and had breakfast in that same little cafe. What a lovely town Sidney appears to be...there must be something wrong with it, it's too perfect...
If they ever finish the Trans Canada Trail, they'll have a whole new industry of cyclists doing credit-card touring around the island. We tried to find a 'good' ride to do last summer but were limited in time and the trails didn't seem to be connected yet. The Galloping Goose is somewhere around there but don't remember if it's on Vancouver Is. or not. Now THAT would be a nice ride.
05-08-07, 04:02 PM
If you are really passionate about this trip. You can use the backroads. I did it a few years ago using the book "Bicycling Vancouver Island & The Gulf Islands" by Simon Priest In fact I have used the book for several tours. It's a bit old and may be out of print however you might find it in your local library or the Vancouver library may have it. The backroads have gorgoeous scenery, rolling hills and little traffic. I can't remember ever having to walk a hill so they not too bad. It takes you through fantastic country. The book breaks each section into smaller tours so you would have to a liitle work to put the trip together but that's half the fun.
I live in Victoria and have ridden all of what is called the Trans Canada Trail on Vancouver Island. The only parts that are actually trail are the Lochside and Galloping Goose trails in and around Victoria and the already mentioned triangle that goes to and from Cowichan Lake.
The whole Galloping Goose trail (only part of it is part of the Trans Canada trail) is a wonderful, mostly flat ride from Victoria to a spot called Leechtown (a former gold rush settlement, nothing there now). The railway right-of-way actually continues past Leechtown to the start of the Lake Cowichan section but it runs through Victoria's water supply catchment area and riding on it is forbidden. The trail can be picked up again in Shawnigan Lake but it dead ends at a derilict railway trestle that can't be crossed. A detour (after back tracking a bit) on a logging road will get you to the other side of the trestle and then on to Cowichan Lake. Another, bumpier, trail will get you to Duncan.
The official TC trail route from Victoria to Duncan follows the main highway over the Malahat. It's a steep, busy ride. I would avoid it by cycling up the Saanich Peninsula to Brentwood Bay and taking the little ferry to Mill Bay. Quiet backroads with cycle route markings will take you to Duncan or as far north as Ladysmith without having to travel on the main highway. Between Duncan and Ladysmith you pass through Crofton which has a ferry to Saltspring Island. A nice loop takes you from Victoria to Crofton to Saltspring to Sidney, then back to Victoria on the Lochside trail. The Lochside trail is a mix of quiet residential streets and hard packed gravel trail, well marked, that connects directly to the Galloping Goose trail.
If you want to continue north from Ladysmith you have to ride on the highway for a short distance until you get to the turnoff for Cedar. Cedar Road is fairly quiet, a bit hilly and I'm pretty sure I remember it also being signed as a cycle route. It will take you all the way to Nanaimo. You can ride through Nanaimo or take the paved trail that parallels the highway bypass. The trail is twisty and has lots of hills, some of them quite steep but it's actually a fun ride if you're not in a hurry. It gets you all the way to the north end of Nanaimo.
North of Nanaimo you'll have to follow the highway a ways until you get to a PetroCanada gas station at Nanoose. Turn right at the station and you can follow somewhat hilly backroads to Parksville. From Parksville the old Island Highway follows the coast all the way to Campbell River. It's a little busier than some of the other backroads but not too bad. A ferry at Comox will take you to Powell River on the Sunshine Coast and you can ride south all the way to Vancouver via a couple of ferries. There are a couple of brutal hills on this section of the road.
If I was looking for a three day trip I would day trip the Galloping Goose from Victoria to Leechtown (or as much of the 100 km round trip as you can handle) and back the first day, then do the Victoria-Crofton-Saltspring loop over the next two days, with maybe a side trip to Lake Cowichan if you can handle the distance.
Just to let you know the Brentwood - Mill Bay ferry is in refit till May 28th. RickL's routes are very nice. A group of us do a day trip from Swartz Bay to Mill Bay to Crofton to Saltspring to Swartz Bay mostly on back roads. You have to stop at the bakery in Cowichan Bay. It's the biker's dream stop!! You can turn my above route into a two day trip if you overnite on Saltspring Is. Enjoy what ever route you find. The Island has lots to offer for cycling.
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