Going Across Canada by Bicycle

Going by Bicycle

Our Route Itineraries now include elevation charts, so you can see how hilly a segment is, and plan your rest stops appropriately.
The Canadian Cycling Association has a great book about touring by bike (Elliott Katz, 1994), though for a variety of reasons, they take significant detours off the Trans-Canada.

There are a couple of stretches that are high traffic divided highway were cyclists are not allowed: Highway 1 in BC’s lower mainland between Lion’s Bay and Hope, Highway 417 in and around Ottawa, along highways 400 and 401 to/from Toronto, and Quebec’s highways 20 & 40 from Ontario through to Quebec City.

Cycling Route Detours

Because the Tran-Canada is relatively high traffic, there are some adjustments recommended to the route, especially if cycling alone, without a “chase” or “pack” vehicle. May cross-Canada cycling treks have such a vehicle for logistical reasons.

  1. In BC’s Lower Mainland, bicycles are not permitted on Highway 1, since it is classified as divided highways, and cyclists should travel on Route 7 on the north shore of the Fraser. This route takes riders from Coquitlam to Mission to Hope.
  2. From Hope, the CCA recommends following The Crowsnest Highway #3 though Manning Park and along the south edge of the Okanagan east to Castlegar and then scoot north on Highway #6 to Revelstoke,
  3. BC Goverment restrictions on Cyclists in a nutshell: Stay off the #1 between Horseshoe Bay and Hope (we’ve mapped the detours)
  4. In Western Alberta, from Canmore, take Highway 1A, which takes a leisurely and very path along the north bank of the Bow River past Mount Yamnuska, Morley, and Ghost Lake into Calgary (with only one big hill east of Cochrane), into Calgary. From Cochrane, you can take the cycling path through the Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park… the pathway roughly follows the railway tracks and is missing a 1km segment just at city limits, but you can walk (pay attention!) along the railway right of way to the City of Calgary pathway inside the city limits which you can follow along the Bow River and then along the Western Irrigation District canal to Lake Chestermere east of the city, which lies right on the Trans-Canada Highway.
  5. At Strathmore, east of Calgary, CCA recommends heading north, then east on highway #9, which takes you through Drumheller (Scenic, historical, but with hills), and then east across the flat Alberta prairie past Oyen to Alsask on the border.
  6. In western Saskatchewan, #9 turns into #44, which connects to 342, which connects to #4 to Swift Current, back on the Trans-Canada
  7. In Manitoba, most of the Trans-Canada is avoided, by taking #83 north to Minota, #24 east to Rapid City, #10 north to Minedoa, and #16 east to Portage La Prairie, From there, take #26 which detours north through Poplar Point, ending up on the western outskirts of Winnipeg.
  8. East of Winnipeg head along #15 east to Elma and then #44 through Whiteshell Provincial Park past Falcon Lake, finally hitting the Trans-Canada at the Ontario border
  9. From Kenora, take #71 south to Fort Frances on the Minnesota USA border, only to head south and then east along the well-settled south shore of Lake Superior to Sault Ste Marie. This avoids a very remote road, with narrow shoulders and heavy truck traffic, as well as a stretch with lots of carnivorous wildlife (like bears) which can make roadside camping awkward.
  10. From Espanola, a bit west of Sudbury, head south via Manitoulin Island, taking the ferry from Baymouth to Tobermory, and down the Bruce Peninsula to Owen Sound, and then east on country roads through Orillia, Bancroft and Renfrew in the lush Ottawa River Valley.
  11. From Renfrew head along #3 and then #5 alongside the River, avoiding the very heavily trafficked 417 divided highway into Ottawa. In Ottawa follow the Sir John A Macdonald Ottawa River Parkway into the city.
  12. East of Ottawa take the old highway #17, again avoiding the 417 divided highway, and crossing into Quebec over the Ottawa River at Hawkesbury to Grenville, and then follow scenic #344 along he Ottawa River southeast into Montreal, via Oka.
  13. Ontario rules for bikes and e-bikes In a nutshell: Stay off any “400 series” highway,the Queen Elizabeth Way, the Queensway in Ottawa, or the Kitchener-Waterloo Expressway.
  14. East of Montreal head along the south shore of the St Lawrence along#132 all the way to Levis, across the river from Quebec City. This avoids the busy AutoRoute #20 on the south shore and the #40 on the north shore. A very wise move, considering the reputation of that province’s drivers.
  15. From Levis, take #132 east along the south bank to Riviere du Loup, where you connect to #185, the Trans-Canada into New Brunswick.
  16. From Grand Falls, New Brunswick, take route #105 down the east bank of the might Saint John River, instead of the busy #2 Trans-Canada Route. This will take you all the way to Fredericton.
  17. From Sussex, NB, take #114 southeast along the Fundy Coast, and then up the Peticodiac River to Moncton. From Moncton, take #106 closer to the waterway than the #2 highway, into Sackville on the Nova Scotia border.
  18. Instead of crossing western Nova Scotia, they recommend taking the scenic route through PEI, taking the ferry from Woods Islands to Caribou.
  19. From Caribou, take #245 and #337 along the Northumberland Strait to Antigonish, and country road #4 instead of the busy Trans-Canada #104, crossing the Canso Causeway at Ault Cove, from which point there is only one road through Cape Breton.
  20. Through Newfoundland, there is only one route. No detours are possible.


Item 9 is not a possibility for those precluded from entering the United States, who have a criminal record (in some cases even an arrest record), or who did not apply for a Visitors Visa in advance (this applies to citizens of countries other than Canada, and some Canadian citizens who were born in certain other countries – their rules, not ours!)

Ontario & Alberta require bicycle helmets for riders under 18 years. Other provinces have all-ages legislation requiring bike helmets behind New Brunswick (1995), British Columbia (1996), Nova Scotia (1997) and Prince Edward Island (2002). Both BC and Nova Scotia helmet legislation also includes inline skates and scooters.

E-bikes are generally treated the same as un-motorized bicycles, and have a maximum speed of 30 km/h. See detailed e-bike discussion by Fight Your Tickets.