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-   -   Trans Canada trail or Trans Canada highway? (http://www.horizonsunlimited.com/hubb/overland-bicycle-travel/trans-canada-trail-trans-canada-65249)

mark manley 14 Jul 2012 15:54

Trans Canada trail or Trans Canada highway?
 
I have just been looking at the bikingacrosscanada website and am considering the possibility of doing some or all of it next year. The routes listed include the trans Canada trail and trans Canada highway, does anybody have experience of either or both? The names suggest one is road and the other trail but I cannot find out much about how open the trail is to cyclists as opposed to walkers or degree of difficulty on two wheels.
I would be taking a hybred bike which has taken me on some fairly rough tracks fully loaded with camping gear, but would not want to end up having to carry the bike up or down some sections if they were only really suitable for hiking.
Your personal experiences and information gratefully received.
Alternatively I might just do it by motorcycle, a reliable one this time!

Scrabblebiker 16 Jul 2012 04:45

The Trans Canada Highway is indeed Highway #1 linking the entire country from east to west.

The Trans Canada Trail, when completed (if ever) will be the longest non-motorized trail in the world. I can only speak of the BC part of the trail since I've bicycled a very large part of it.

The part from Castlegar to Brookmere is perfectly passable on just about any bike with moderately wide tires. So a hybrid should be fine. Since it's pretty much all on abandoned rail grades, the inclines are pretty gentle. There are soft spots and a bit of sand coming down into Penticton from Myra Canyon above Kelowna. It's officially supposed to be for non-motorized traffic but you will probably encounter the occasional self-centred yahoo on dirt bikes or quads, even though there are hundreds of kilometres of other roads, trails and tracks they could be using.

From Brookmere to the Othello Tunnels the trail is much less develloped and can involve some tricky crossings. I've done both the trail without a load and came down the thrill ride that is the Coquihalla highway while fully loaded. Make sure you take the Othello Tunnels exit and rejoin the rail trail through some stupendous tunnels crossing a few river ravines, taking you the back way into Hope.

From Hope to Chilliwack the trail is a rough abandoned logging road and I have no first hand experience of it. My understanding is it's not for the weak and faint of heart. After Chilliwack the Trans Canada Trail is a mix of country roads/lanes, trails, dyke roads, locally marked quiet roads through the various towns and cities.

It then crosses over to Nanaimo from Horseshoe Bay Northwest of Vancouver. The Nanaimo area has a few km's of completed separate trail and designated routes on roads. From Duncan the trail is a well maintained former rail grade going west to Cowichan lake. From there it doubles back on a rather poorly maintained, yet quite passable former rail grade .... be prepared for trespassing dirt bikes in this area. It doubles back to just below Duncan and then heads south to the southern end of Shawnigan Lake. The section from Shawnigan lake to Langford (a suburb of Victoria) has yet to be built. So you'll be on the Trans Canada highway at that point You can pick up the Galloping Goose trail in Langford, which is part of the Trans Canada Trail and which will take you right to Downtown Victoria and to the Trans Canada Trail terminus.


...Michelle
www.scrabblebiker.com

estebangc 16 Jul 2012 14:01

Quote:

Originally Posted by mark manley (Post 385794)
Alternatively I might just do it by motorcycle, a reliable one this time!

Sorry for my curiosity, what bike was it? What (European???) make was it?

Most importantly, enjoy the intended trip!

Quote:

Originally Posted by Scrabblebiker (Post 385973)
The Trans Canada Highway is indeed Highway #1 linking the entire country from east to west.

The Trans Canada Trail, when completed (if ever) will be the longest non-motorized trail in the world. I can only speak of the BC part of the trail since I've bicycled a very large part of it.

The part from Castlegar to Brookmere is perfectly passable on just about any bike with moderately wide tires. So a hybrid should be fine. Since it's pretty much all on abandoned rail grades, the inclines are pretty gentle. There are soft spots and a bit of sand coming down into Penticton from Myra Canyon above Kelowna. It's officially supposed to be for non-motorized traffic but you will probably encounter the occasional self-centred yahoo on dirt bikes or quads, even though there are hundreds of kilometres of other roads, trails and tracks they could be using.

From Brookmere to the Othello Tunnels the trail is much less develloped and can involve some tricky crossings. I've done both the trail without a load and came down the thrill ride that is the Coquihalla highway while fully loaded. Make sure you take the Othello Tunnels exit and rejoin the rail trail through some stupendous tunnels crossing a few river ravines, taking you the back way into Hope.

From Hope to Chilliwack the trail is a rough abandoned logging road and I have no first hand experience of it. My understanding is it's not for the weak and faint of heart. After Chilliwack the Trans Canada Trail is a mix of country roads/lanes, trails, dyke roads, locally marked quiet roads through the various towns and cities.

It then crosses over to Nanaimo from Horseshoe Bay Northwest of Vancouver. The Nanaimo area has a few km's of completed separate trail and designated routes on roads. From Duncan the trail is a well maintained former rail grade going west to Cowichan lake. From there it doubles back on a rather poorly maintained, yet quite passable former rail grade .... be prepared for trespassing dirt bikes in this area. It doubles back to just below Duncan and then heads south to the southern end of Shawnigan Lake. The section from Shawnigan lake to Langford (a suburb of Victoria) has yet to be built. So you'll be on the Trans Canada highway at that point You can pick up the Galloping Goose trail in Langford, which is part of the Trans Canada Trail and which will take you right to Downtown Victoria and to the Trans Canada Trail terminus.


...Michelle
www.scrabblebiker.com

You really took the time for such a great post! Never been there, but your detailed account of the streches kind of made me feel there! Thx

mark manley 16 Jul 2012 22:54

Quote:

Originally Posted by estebangc (Post 386017)
Sorry for my curiosity, what bike was it? What (European???) make was it?

A 1979 Triumph T140 on which I have already done 110,000 miles in the last 30 odd years. It hasn't actually broken down but after starting the trip developed an even greater thirst for oil than is normal for one of these. It has not been fixing it that is the problem but a parts supplier who left an order for a week before sending it and the US postal service which has taken 10 days so far to get other parts a few hundred miles from New Jersey to just over the border into Canada even with priority postage, I could have had them in 4 days from the UK.

Most importantly, enjoy the intended trip!

I am in Saint John which is not a bad place to be, weather and company good with the use of a bike at weekend for runs out with the local vintage bike club :scooter:



You really took the time for such a great post! Never been there, but your detailed account of the streches kind of made me feel there! Thx

I must agree, this is better than I expected and has filled me with enthusiasm for doing at least some of this route next year, many thanks Michelle

McCrankpin 16 Jul 2012 23:20

I'll offer this:
Back in 2001 I cycled from Calgary to Banff, up the Icefields Parkway to Athabasca, then back to Banff and west to Yoho.
The east-west bits (Calgary - Banff - Yoho) were all on the Trans-Canada Highway, which was fine for cycling on.

The Kicking Horse pass to Yoho was OK, not particularly steep, certainly not nearly as steep as a near-vertical bit of tarmac on the road leading in to Yoho Park, where I did have to get off and push.

There was a grand view of the big circular section of railway as it goes through the tunnels in the mountains to climb over the Great Divide.

I was carrying camping gear, 2 panniers rear, 2 front, and tent across the rear panniers.

I don't know anything about the Trans-Canada Trail, I was on a road-touring bike and never left the tarmac.

If you cycle that route I'm sure you'll enjoy it. The scenery is tremendous. On a bicycle you can stop anywhere to take it in. Not so easy in a car, or maybe even on a motorbike.
I remember the route from Calgary through Canmore to Banff, which was 2 days I think.
To watch the Rockies grow and rise up in the scenery so slowly, an almost imperceptable amount each mile you pedal, is an amazing way to travel into the Rockies. You won't experience that on any faster means of transport.
And the best ice cream in the whole of Canada is on sale in Canmore.

After Yoho I returned east to Kicking Horse. On the way down from there I found myself cycling right next to a train that seemed about 2 miles long, and was going the same speed as me as I cruised down the slopes back to Banff. It was doing 22mph, and we were side-by-side for quite a while. I could hear the train's whistle but I don't think they could hear my bell. (Well, I didn't have one anyway!)

Scenery wise, cycling over Kicking Horse was magnificent particularly as I could stop as often as I liked to take it all in. I think even on a motorbike you'd be limited to the parking spaces that aren't that frequent.

If you plan to camp, when I was there late August/Early Sept, all the campsites were closed to tents because of bear season.
Except tent camping was available in Canmore and Yoho. But not Banff, Lake Louise and north.

Cycling all around there on the tarmac roads is highly recommendable, I wouldn't have missed it for the world!

Scrabblebiker 17 Jul 2012 00:57

Quote:

Originally Posted by McCrankpin (Post 386126)
I'll offer this:
Back in 2001 I cycled from Calgary to Banff, up the Icefields Parkway to Athabasca, then back to Banff and west to Yoho.

I wholeheartedly second the Icefields Parkway if you happen to be in that area. Two of us cycled from Jasper to Banff on folding bikes in late September ...yes LATE September. It's downright stunning in spite of the fact that we encountered snow in one of the passes. There are hostels along the way, all reachable in a day's ride.


...Michelle
www.scrabblebiker.com

mark manley 17 Jul 2012 10:59

Quote:

Originally Posted by Scrabblebiker (Post 386134)
I wholeheartedly second the Icefields Parkway if you happen to be in that area. Two of us cycled from Jasper to Banff on folding bikes in late September ...yes LATE September.

I have to ask, what type of folding bicycle? info on dates is also useful.

Scrabblebiker 18 Jul 2012 01:27

Quote:

Originally Posted by mark manley (Post 386171)
I have to ask, what type of folding bicycle? info on dates is also useful.

My friend was on a Dahon Speed TR, a full on touring bike with proper gears. I was on a Dahon MU XL an 8 speed city bike. Needless to say my legs gave out quite frequently on the numerous hills climbing up the passes.

We did it the last week of September and took a train back from Banff to Vancouver on October 3rd. On our last day before hitting Banff we had to wait most of the morning for the snow and ice to melt from the highway shoulder before we could safely carry on.

If you're interested in a trip report you can visit "www.ulrike.ca". That's my friend's blog. The trip was part of a larger train/folding bike trip for the purpose of writing an article about Dahon, Rocky Mountaineer, VIA Rail and Hostelling International. I was the lucky friend who got invited along as the second person on this almost fully sponsored trip. The bikes were on loan from Dahon and the rail companies and Hostelling International sponsored us almost the entire way.


...Michelle
www.scrabblebiker.com

MountainMan 18 Jul 2012 02:45

Quote:

Originally Posted by mark manley (Post 385794)
I have just been looking at the bikingacrosscanada website and am considering the possibility of doing some or all of it next year. The routes listed include the trans Canada trail and trans Canada highway, does anybody have experience of either or both? The names suggest one is road and the other trail but I cannot find out much about how open the trail is to cyclists as opposed to walkers or degree of difficulty on two wheels.
I would be taking a hybred bike which has taken me on some fairly rough tracks fully loaded with camping gear, but would not want to end up having to carry the bike up or down some sections if they were only really suitable for hiking.
Your personal experiences and information gratefully received.
Alternatively I might just do it by motorcycle, a reliable one this time!

Mark,

Here's the site which has a nice map of the options.

http://tctrail.ca/explore-the-trail/

Pretty long, as others have suggested the most dramatic scenery is in the west. I pedalled a section of it most recently in May. A hybrid bike would fine but tire selection is important as in certain sections the gravel road goes from hard packed to softer gravel and you would appreciate a fatter mountain bike tire instead of a skinny road tire.

The gravel is pretty much in one contiguous stretch along the abandoned railway so also possible to carry a set of slicks to put on in Castlegar. Or for a beer, you can borrow my mountain bike for that section.


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