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  1. #1
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    Crossing the Prairies

    I plan to do a cross Canada cycling trip in the near future. The plan is to come out of the Rockies on Highway 11. With that starting point, what is the best route to cross the Prairies to eventually arrive at the Manitoba / Ontario border?

    I am looking for a combination of good roads, nice scenery and decent camping opportunities. I usually average 80 to 100km per day. If possible I hope to avoid both Highway 1 and Highway 16. Thank you.

  2. #2
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    good roads and nice scenery? I really don't know what route you'd take, but the back roads in Saskachewan can be very rough with nothing in sight for long periods of time however there are endless grids of roads in the prairie. However, if I could I would leave highway 1 at maple creek sk, go down through Cypress hills and then travel east towards Eastend, the grasslands national park, the dinosaur museum and then I don't know. There is a massive desert between southern Sask and Alberta so you might want to avoid that. Check out maps. Due to prairie highways being flat and all people speed like mad so it can be scary and I can see why you'd want to avoid the major routes. Also you will be sharing highways with cattle and pig trucks. disgusting.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Sir Lunch-a-lot's Avatar
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    Something to consider is the Trans Canada trail. The idea is that it will eventually be a trail that will go from coast to coast (as I understand) for use by bikes, walking, skiing (possibly snowmobiling...). As of right now, it still looks very fragmented (although I think there are SOME fairly complete sections). Probably would be worth taking a look and seeing if there are any points along the existing trail that would serve you well.

    Best of luck.
    Pythagorean Theorum: 24 words. Lord's Prayer: 66 words. 10 Commandments: 179 words. Gettysburg Address: 286 words. Declaration of Independence: 1,300 words. U.S. Government Regulations on the Sale of Cabbage: 26,911 words.

  4. #4
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    I haven't looked at the Trans Canada Trail through the prairies but if it is like the sections that I have seen in BC it is not a good option for a loaded touring bike. Just this summer I tried a section of the trail near Princeton, BC and had to abandon it after only 5km because it had been so chewed up by motorbikes and ATVs. Sections closer to my home in the Fraser Valley are even more difficult to travel.

  5. #5
    Custom User Title cowtown_cowboy's Avatar
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    First off do you want to go straight east or dip south a bit? If you're going east:
    You're going to encounter a lot of traffic towards Red Deer on highway 11. I would suggest traveling south towards Olds. From there go north towards Stettler. From there go east on 12 to Sask border. This will turn into highway 51. Turn south on highway 4, passing through rosetown. From there I would hit highway 15 to Melville. From there you might have to take some farm roads, as the only other viable alternative is highway 16 into Manitoba.
    I would strongly avoid highway 9 Alberta/highway 7 Saskatchewan, as this is the main artery between Calgary/Saskatoon. Plus this section is pretty desolate area. I've driven that road hundreds of times, and it never gets better.
    Another option is to go south on highway 11 to highway 22. The problem with this direction is you might forced to jump on hwy 1 for a long time until you hit medicine hat. The advantage is you get to go through Cypress hills eventually.
    I personally love highway 13 (south of Cypress)in Sask, as it would take you clear across the south of Saskatchewan to Man.
    Check here for camping in Saskatchewan:
    http://www.campsource.ca/sk/
    http://www.sasktourism.com/where-to-stay/campgrounds
    I don't know anything about Manitoba, as I have never driven through there myself. AB/SK are my backyard.

  6. #6
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    What is it about Hwy 13 that you like so much? My plan was to go much further north but plans can be changed if there is a good reason. I had actually heard that Hwy 2 in Manitoba, which can be accessed directly from Hwy 13, was a good route so maybe I should look at taking a different route out of BC to enter the prairies much further south than originally planned.

    Are there decent campsites and other things along Hwy 13? Any info would be appreciated.

    If there are any Manitobans on this site I would also appreciate any info on what would be the best route through that province as well. In particular info on the best route into Winnipeg (or ones to definitely avoid) and the best route from Winnipeg to the Ontario border. Thanks.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Sir Lunch-a-lot's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Norsman View Post
    I haven't looked at the Trans Canada Trail through the prairies but if it is like the sections that I have seen in BC it is not a good option for a loaded touring bike. Just this summer I tried a section of the trail near Princeton, BC and had to abandon it after only 5km because it had been so chewed up by motorbikes and ATVs. Sections closer to my home in the Fraser Valley are even more difficult to travel.
    That's really disappointing to hear. I had been looking forward to the Trans-Canada trails linking up with Saskatoon... but if it is going to be used and abused by motorized vehicles, that kind of dampens the joy. Oh well. I'll just hope that when the day comes it remains in better condition out here.

    Anyway, I would have to agree with the assessment of highway 9/7 from Alberta to Saskatchewan. Particularly the Alberta portion of the highway is fairly desolate with few towns along it (and a few abandoned towns by the looks of it). It seems to me, though, that after Kindersley (heading East), there are more frequent occurrences of small towns along or near the #7. However, other than Rosetown, most of them seem to be small towns and amenities could be hit or miss. As as cowtown noted, it is a pretty busy highway, and mostly single lane.

    Anyway, that's my 2 cents worth.
    Pythagorean Theorum: 24 words. Lord's Prayer: 66 words. 10 Commandments: 179 words. Gettysburg Address: 286 words. Declaration of Independence: 1,300 words. U.S. Government Regulations on the Sale of Cabbage: 26,911 words.

  8. #8
    Custom User Title cowtown_cowboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Norsman View Post
    What is it about Hwy 13 that you like so much? My plan was to go much further north but plans can be changed if there is a good reason. I had actually heard that Hwy 2 in Manitoba, which can be accessed directly from Hwy 13, was a good route so maybe I should look at taking a different route out of BC to enter the prairies much further south than originally planned.

    Are there decent campsites and other things along Hwy 13? Any info would be appreciated.

    If there are any Manitobans on this site I would also appreciate any info on what would be the best route through that province as well. In particular info on the best route into Winnipeg (or ones to definitely avoid) and the best route from Winnipeg to the Ontario border. Thanks.
    Highway 13 is not well used, so cycling shouldn't be as much of a hassle. I've never been camping along that route, so I cant help you there.

    I would just avoid Saskatoon area as it's getting very busy traffic wise. I'm from there, and even biking 10 years ago was a bit much for me.

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