The weather’s starting to feel spring-ier, there’s still daylight at the end of the workday, and we have to stay close to home. There are fewer and fewer excuses not to pull your bike out of the shed, pump up those tires, and go for a ride! Luckily, Southern Vancouver Island is home to some truly spectacular cycling trails. No bike rack on your car (or no car)? No problem! All of these cycling routes start in downtown Victoria.
Lake Vibes: E&N Trail from Downtown to Thetis Lake
Starting from the Johnson Street Bridge, this is about a 40 minute/10 km ride. The majority of it is on the E&N Rail Trail and Galloping Goose Trail, and besides the initial hill up Esquimalt before you get on the trail and the final segment up the highway after you turn off the Goose, it’s more or less flat.
Starting from downtown Victoria, head over the Johnson Street Bridge and stay on Esquimalt Road until you get to the Vic West Pet Hospital. Veering off Esquimalt Road, this is where the E&N trail starts. This is a mostly flat, paved pedestrian and cycling trail that follows the former rail line from Esquimalt to Langford, with some sections not yet completed (it’s currently 12 km but will be 17 km when it’s finished).
The trail cuts across Vic West and Esquimalt, and is almost completely off the road. Check out the ever-changing murals in the small industrial section of town, and stop to snack on some wild blackberries if they’re in season! Eventually you’ll cross Admirals Road and ride along the water for a short section before crossing a bridge over Craigflower at Portage Park. Entering View Royal, the trail continues until you cross the highway and turn left onto the Galloping Goose.
If you’re keen for a coffee break at this point, turn right instead and ride about 3 minutes out of your way to The Nest Cafe, an adorable coffee shop with ample outdoor seating, serving local Mile Zero Coffee.
Once you’re caffeinated, turn back and continue on the Goose towards Six Mile Road. Turn right down the hill and onto Six Mile Road, up the hill towards the Thetis Lake. A few minutes’ walk from the parking lot is the main beach, where you can lock up your bike. From here, there are a few options. The walk around Thetis is a nice hike (you can take the Upper or Lower Thetis trail – more details here). Prefer to rest after your ride? Bring a towel and a picnic and lounge on the beach! The lake is a popular spot for floating and paddling in the summer.
If you want to turn your trip into a multi-day adventure, the entire Galloping Goose Trail is 55 km long and goes all the way past the Sooke Potholes to Leechtown! Read more about the Galloping Goose here.
Scenic Marine Route: Dallas Road and Beach Drive with possible loop
Dallas Road is Victoria’s most popular drive and rightly so – you follow the ocean the entire way, past gorgeous, unaffordable, houses; views of the Olympic Mountains across the Salish Sea. From Fisherman’s Wharf to Willow’s Beach, this ride is about 40 minutes/11 km with no stops. There are a few good hills!
From the downtown side of the Johnson Street Bridge, make your way to Fisherman’s Wharf, where Dallas Road starts. If you’re visiting Victoria, spend some time checking out the vibrantly painted floating homes and restaurants in Fisherman’s Wharf. Just remember that these are people’s homes, so be respectful.
Make your way along Dallas Road, ocean at your right side. Possible stops are: Ogden Point (walk along the breakwater to the lighthouse); Beacon Hill Park (home to friendly goats at a petting zoo, the world’s tallest free-standing totem pole, chatty peacocks and elegant gardens and ponds); Clover Point or the adjacent beach (great places to watch kite surfers or fly kites). As you fly along this scenic route, keep an eye on the fancy houses on your left, and the Olympic Mountains on your right. You might even spot a seal!
Dallas Road soon turns into Hollywood Crescent, and then Crescent Road. Once you pass Gonzales Bay (a long, sandy beach perfect for a rest and a picnic), continue onto King George Terrace. The next section is verrrry hilly, your legs will love it!
Next, the seaside ride continues along Beach Drive, through a cliffside golf course, and along the water all the way to Willow’s Beach. Watch for deer at the golf course, and seals by the Oak Bay Marina. Willow’s is a great place to end your ride. You can hang out on the sand, built a driftwood lean-to, or walk around Cattle Point’s Garry Oak ecosystem at the far end of the beach. If you’d prefer more of a city vibe after your ride, Estevan Village is right up the road from the beach, and has a handful of upscale shops, restaurants, and cafes.
You can take the same route back, but if you’d like something more direct (and less hilly), take Bowker St. to Cadboro Bay Road, which becomes Fort St. (the changing street names in Victoria are always keeping me on my toes!). Hop onto Pandora when you get to that intersection; this will eventually become a protected two-way bike lane, which you can take all the way back to the Johnson St. bridge.
Saanich Peninsula: the Lochside Trail to Sea Cider, Island View, and Sidney
Rural Saanich, forested sections, fancy homes, ocean at your side and views of the San Juan Islands and Mount Baker – from downtown, the Lochside trail takes about 1.25 hours/23 km to Sea Cider, just over 1 hour/21 km to Island View Beach, and 1.5 hours/28 km to Sidney. Aside from the big hill leading into Island View, the Lochside Trail itself is fairly flat.
This is a great option for a day trip! The Lochside Trail takes you through farmland in Central and North Saanich, following the east coast of the Saanich Peninsula. I love checking out the landscaped gardens in the affluent neighbourhoods along the way, as well as enjoying the quirks that come with a rural ride: farmstands, resident pigs, and sharing the path with horseback riders, oh my!
To get to the switch bridge, where the Lochside Trail starts, take the Johnson Street Bridge from downtonw and take your first right onto the protected two-way bike lane on Harbour Road. At the stop sign, across the street from Cafe Fantastico and Fol Epi Bakery, is the start of the Galloping Goose Trail. Take the trail across the Selkirk Trestle and keep going until you get to the next hill – a bridge over the highway by Uptown Mall. Voila! You’ve reached the Switch Bridge: turn right, and you’re on the Lochside Trail.
From here, I’ve written more detailed posts about cycling to Sea Cider (a family-owned cidery with views of the sea, as the name implies), Island View Beach (a long beach with some nice walking paths, bird-watching, and camping options), and Sidney (a cute and historic seaside town with a romantic waterfront walkway, an abundance of bookstores, and lots of great food and drink options).
The Lochside Trail is a truly unique Vancouver Island cycling trail!
Have another favourite Victoria cycling trail? Let me know in the comments! Happy riding!