Journey Across Canada: A Cyclist’s Guide to the Trans Canada Trail from Oakville, Ontario to Vancouver, B.C.

Introduction

Embarking on an adventure across Canada on the Trans Canada Trail is an endeavor filled with breathtaking scenery, charming towns, and the spirit of exploration. Stretching from Oakville, Ontario to Vancouver, British Columbia, this trail offers a unique way to experience the diverse landscapes of Canada. Our guide breaks down this monumental journey into 12 manageable sections, each offering a 1-3 day cycling trip covering 200-600 kilometers. We’ve identified key points where hopping on a train is advisable, either to bypass challenging terrains or less scenic areas. Reminder, don’t forget to search for electric bikes near me before you leave.

Section 1: Oakville, Ontario to London, Ontario

Distance: 200 km

Highlights:

  • Scenery: Begin your journey with the serene views of Lake Ontario and transition into the lush greenery of southwestern Ontario.
  • Towns: Milton, Stratford.
  • Stops: Visit the Milton Farmers Market for fresh local produce.
  • Accommodation: Camping at Bronte Creek Provincial Park, Hotels in Stratford.

Embark on your journey from the bustling town of Oakville, cycling alongside the picturesque shores of Lake Ontario. As you head towards London, the trail winds through the historical town of Stratford, known for its vibrant arts scene.

Section 2: London, Ontario to Chatham-Kent

Distance: 225 km

Highlights:

  • Scenery: Experience the agricultural heartland of Ontario.
  • Towns: St. Thomas, West Lorne.
  • Stops: Enjoy a coffee break at the charming cafes in St. Thomas.
  • Accommodation: Campsites near Rondeau Provincial Park, B&Bs in Chatham-Kent.

From London, the trail meanders through Ontario’s rich farmlands, offering a peaceful and relaxing ride. The small towns along the way are perfect for rest stops and experiencing local hospitality.

Train Segment: Chatham-Kent to Windsor

To avoid a less scenic industrial stretch, take a train from Chatham-Kent to Windsor. This break also helps in preparing for the next trail segment.

Section 3: Windsor, Ontario to Sarnia

Distance: 300 km

Highlights:

  • Scenery: Ride along the Detroit River and Lake St. Clair.
  • Towns: Leamington, Chatham.
  • Stops: Visit Point Pelee National Park, Canada’s southernmost point.
  • Accommodation: Lakeside camping at Wheatley Provincial Park, Hotels in Sarnia.

This section takes you along the scenic waterfronts of the Detroit River and Lake St. Clair. The highlight is a detour to Point Pelee National Park, a birdwatcher’s paradise.

Section 4: Sarnia to Goderich

Distance: 250 km

Highlights:

  • Scenery: Coastal views along Lake Huron.
  • Towns: Bayfield, Grand Bend.
  • Stops: Enjoy the beaches of Grand Bend.
  • Accommodation: Camp at Pinery Provincial Park, Bayfield River Cottage Colony.

Cycle alongside the azure waters of Lake Huron, passing through lively beach towns. The sandy beaches offer a perfect spot for a refreshing swim.

Section 5: Goderich to Owen Sound

Distance: 200 km

Highlights:

  • Scenery: Rolling hills and rocky landscapes.
  • Towns: Kincardine, Southampton.
  • Stops: Explore the historic lighthouses in Kincardine.
  • Accommodation: Camping at Sauble Beach, Hotels in Owen Sound.

The trail becomes more rugged as you approach Owen Sound, with breathtaking views of Georgian Bay. The town of Kincardine, with its charming lighthouses, is a must-visit.

Train Segment: Owen Sound to Barrie

To bypass a less exciting stretch, take a train from Owen Sound to Barrie. This segment allows you to rest before the next picturesque section.

Section 6: Barrie to Huntsville

Distance: 225 km

Highlights:

  • Scenery: Lakes and forests of the Muskoka region.
  • Towns: Orillia, Bracebridge.
  • **

Stops**: Visit the Orillia Opera House and enjoy boating in Bracebridge.

  • Accommodation: Stay at the luxurious resorts in Muskoka, or camp at Arrowhead Provincial Park.

This segment lets you delve into the heart of the Muskoka region, renowned for its stunning lakes and lush forests. Orillia and Bracebridge provide not just scenic beauty but also rich cultural experiences.

Section 7: Huntsville to North Bay

Distance: 250 km

Highlights:

  • Scenery: Experience the rugged Canadian Shield and pristine lakes.
  • Towns: Sundridge, South River.
  • Stops: Canoeing and kayaking in Algonquin Provincial Park.
  • Accommodation: Campgrounds in Algonquin Park, hotels in North Bay.

Cycling northward, you’ll be enchanted by the wilderness of Algonquin Provincial Park. This area is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts, offering a multitude of water activities.

Section 8: North Bay to Sudbury

Distance: 200 km

Highlights:

  • Scenery: Pass through dense forests and witness the impact of the Canadian Shield.
  • Towns: Sturgeon Falls, Nipissing.
  • Stops: Explore the Duchesnay Falls Trails.
  • Accommodation: Camping at Restoule Provincial Park, hotels in Sudbury.

The trail from North Bay to Sudbury takes you through dense forests and rocky landscapes, offering a true northern Ontario experience. Sudbury, a city rich in mining history, presents numerous cultural attractions.

Train Segment: Sudbury to Sault Ste. Marie

Avoid a lengthy and less eventful stretch by taking a train from Sudbury to Sault Ste. Marie. This will rejuvenate you for the scenic rides ahead.

Section 9: Sault Ste. Marie to Thunder Bay

Distance: 700 km (Divided into two 3-day trips)

Highlights:

  • Scenery: Majestic Lake Superior coast.
  • Towns: Wawa, Terrace Bay.
  • Stops: Visit the iconic Wawa Goose and Aguasabon Falls.
  • Accommodation: Camping at Lake Superior Provincial Park, hotels in Thunder Bay.

This epic section along Lake Superior’s coast is a highlight of the journey. The rugged beauty of the terrain is unparalleled, and the towns along the way are full of character and history.

Section 10: Thunder Bay to Kenora

Distance: 500 km

Highlights:

  • Scenery: Explore the Canadian wilderness and lake country.
  • Towns: Atikokan, Sioux Narrows.
  • Stops: Fishing in Sioux Narrows, visiting Quetico Provincial Park.
  • Accommodation: Lakeside lodges, camping in Quetico.

Transitioning into the heart of the Canadian wilderness, this section offers an authentic backcountry experience. The small, scattered communities provide a warm welcome to travelers.

Train Segment: Kenora to Winnipeg

To expedite the journey and skip a less scenic part, take a train from Kenora to Winnipeg.

Section 11: Winnipeg to Regina

Distance: 600 km

Highlights:

  • Scenery: The vast, open prairies of Manitoba and Saskatchewan.
  • Towns: Portage la Prairie, Moose Jaw.
  • Stops: Visit the Royal Canadian Artillery Museum in Shilo.
  • Accommodation: Hotels in Regina, camping in Spruce Woods Provincial Park.

Experience the iconic Canadian prairies, with their endless horizons and unique landscapes. This section offers a peaceful and meditative cycling experience.

Section 12: Regina to Calgary

Distance: 760 km (yikes)

Highlights:

  • Scenery: Vast prairies transforming into the foothills of the Rockies.
  • Towns: Moose Jaw, Swift Current, Medicine Hat.
  • Stops: Relax in the thermal waters of Moose Jaw’s Temple Gardens Hotel & Spa.
  • Accommodation: Camping at Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park, Hotels in Calgary.

Embark on this stunning prairie-to-mountains journey from Regina. The gradual change in the landscape as you approach Calgary is mesmerizing. In Calgary, explore the vibrant city life and prepare for the mountainous adventures ahead.

Section 13: Calgary to Banff

Distance: 130 km

Highlights:

  • Scenery: Breathtaking views of the Rocky Mountains.
  • Stops: Visit Canada Olympic Park, enjoy the hot springs in Banff.
  • Accommodation: Luxurious stays in Banff, campsites with mountain views.

A relatively short but incredibly scenic ride, this section introduces you to the grandeur of the Rocky Mountains. Banff, a jewel in the Canadian Rockies, offers both relaxation and adventure.

Section 14: Banff to Lake Louise

Distance: 60 km

Highlights:

  • Scenery: Iconic mountain landscapes, turquoise lakes.
  • Stops: Lake Minnewanka, Bow Falls.
  • Accommodation: Iconic Chateau Lake Louise, camping in Banff National

Park.

This magical stretch is a highlight of the trail. The ride from Banff to Lake Louise is filled with postcard-perfect sceneries, including the famous Lake Minnewanka and the stunning Bow Falls. The Chateau Lake Louise provides a fairy-tale stay right beside the turquoise lake, offering a blend of luxury and wilderness.

Section 15: Lake Louise to Golden

Distance: 80 km

Highlights:

  • Scenery: Mountain passes and valleys, Yoho National Park.
  • Towns: Field.
  • Stops: Natural Bridge, Takakkaw Falls.
  • Accommodation: Camping in Yoho National Park, hotels in Golden.

The journey from Lake Louise to Golden is a breathtaking experience, where you’ll ride through the heart of Yoho National Park. The park is a natural wonder, with attractions like the impressive Takakkaw Falls and the Natural Bridge over the Kicking Horse River. Golden, nestled in the Columbia Valley, is a welcoming town with great places to rest.

Section 16: Golden to Kamloops

Distance: 340 km

Highlights:

  • Scenery: Diverse landscapes including forests, rivers, and desert-like conditions.
  • Towns: Revelstoke, Salmon Arm.
  • Stops: Revelstoke Mountain Resort, Shuswap Lake.
  • Accommodation: Cozy lodges in Revelstoke, campgrounds near Shuswap Lake.

This section offers a diverse array of landscapes, from dense forests to arid regions. Revelstoke is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts, offering everything from hiking to mountain biking. Shuswap Lake is ideal for a relaxing break, with its beautiful beaches and warm waters.

Section 17: Kamloops to Vancouver

Distance: 350 km

Highlights:

  • Scenery: Coastal mountains, Fraser Valley.
  • Towns: Merritt, Hope.
  • Stops: Othello Tunnels, Hell’s Gate Airtram.
  • Accommodation: Unique B&Bs in Hope, upscale hotels in Vancouver.

The final leg from Kamloops to Vancouver is a climactic end to your cross-Canada journey. The ride through the Fraser Valley offers a mix of agricultural lands and mountain views. Explore the historic Othello Tunnels and the thrilling Hell’s Gate Airtram. Upon reaching Vancouver, celebrate your incredible journey with the city’s vibrant culture and cuisine. Google “ebikes Vancouver” to explore the city

Conclusion

Cycling across Canada on the Trans Canada Trail is a once-in-a-lifetime adventure that combines physical challenge with the awe-inspiring beauty of the Canadian landscape. Each section of the journey offers unique experiences, from the tranquil lakes of Ontario to the rugged mountains of British Columbia. Remember, this guide is just a starting point – the trail is yours to explore, and each turn brings a new discovery. Whether you’re camping under the stars or enjoying the comfort of a cozy hotel, the memories you’ll create on this journey will last a lifetime.

The final stretches of your journey along the Trans Canada Trail are filled with awe-inspiring natural beauty and diverse landscapes. From the prairies of Saskatchewan to the bustling streets of Vancouver, each section of this part of the trail offers its own unique experiences and challenges. As you conclude your adventure, reflect on the memories made and the incredible landscapes you’ve traversed. This journey is not just about reaching the destination but about cherishing each pedal along Canada’s magnificent trail.

Safe travels and happy cycling!

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