Posted on 29 November 2011 by SomeGood
I’m getting ready to drive to British Columbia from Nova Scotia. I’m certainly hoping my Top 10 Finalist position translates into winning the Powder Highway Ultimate SKi Bum Contest by mid-December. Even if it doesn’t I’m heading to the mountains and the powder that are beckoning me to come play.
I’ve driven across Canada about 8 or 10 times since 1997. It is no longer a big deal despite the 7,000 kms that lay ahead. I typically take one to two weeks to do the drive in fair weather seasons. In winter I push little harder and make the drive in about a week.
Back in July I did the drive from BC to NS and had a blast. Stopping along the way to hike, bike, kayak, visit friends,… It is such a fantastic way to see the country.
My first stop was my old stomping grounds of Kamloops. I had a scenic car camping spot overlooking the city and the Thompson River.
While in Banff, my dog Farley and I went for a short hike around the Fenland Trail loop to stretch ours legs. Quick, easy access from the highway. There are so many trails of all lengths and difficulty ratings a person could hike the park all year and barely cross a trail twice.
A short drive down the road and I was in Canmore to visit another friend Aaron who works as a Parks Canada Visitor Safety Specialist.
Again, I took the time to get out for a hike with the dog. Not a great picture but Canmore is such a beautiful, scenic town. So spectacular.
I stopped at Canada Olympic Park down the highway in Calgary. The plan was to checkout the Bike Park and to see how a small area with limited space could create an fun park. Although short in vertical relief, it really was a fun area to ride.
East of Calgary is lot of this…
Most people seem to blow right through the Prairies on cross-Canada trips. But if you look around there are a number of beautiful places to visit. I spent a night and part of a day in Cypress Hills Provincial Park that straddles the southern Alberta and Saskatchewan border. It is an elevated area that escaped the last glaciation.
Yet this is still what most people think about when they envision the Prairies…
One of my favorite areas in the Prairies is Grasslands National Park. It is another refuge area from the last glaciation period and quite remarkable for its intact original habitat. It has a true Prairie and badlands feel to it as you hike above the surrounding area of farmers fields.
I usually try to get out of the car in every province for some outdoor recreation but this trip I skipped Manitoba. Not that there are not amazing areas like Riding Mountain National Park or the lakes region but my timing on this trip was less than ideal as I was there at the tail end of the huge flood season that threatened much of the southern part of the province. There were road closures everywhere so I took the easiest west/east route through the province I could.
The nature of the long straight roads in the Prairies allows you to make good time through the region when you want to make good time. Arriving in Ontario is always a bit daunting because it is so huge. There is no way around it, you will be spending at least two full days driving. After making my traditional stop at Kenora in western Ontario I didn’t feel so bad about the long drive ahead of me after meeting Masahito Yoshida. He was walking across Canada which was apart of his around the world walk. Inspiring guy.
I love the drive from Thunder Bay to just west of Sault Ste. Marie. It is one of the most dramatic stretches of the Trans-Canada highway. In the past I have only stopped here to hike or swim in Lake Superior. This time I was looking forward to a kayak day trip around some islands. I put-in in Rossport and was not disappointed with the paddling. Very scenic, very quiet.
I made a few pitstops in central and eastern Ontario. First was Blue Mountain to hit the bike park which overlooks Georgian Bay. Fun trails and beautiful scenery.
I typically have no problem finding perfect lake, river or mountainside spots to car camp or pitch my tent for the night when driving across the country. However, there is a lot of humanity and a lot of development in central Ontario. Finding a good place to camp was particularly challenging but eventually I found a perfect stealth lakeside spot in the middle of suburban sprawl.
I next stopped at another Ontario Bike destination. Joyride 150 is Canada’s only indoor biking facility of its kind or size. It is huge and very impressive. This facility will be pumping out some of Canada’s next mountain bike superstars.
It was a scorcher later that day and hitting a air-conditioned museum seemed like a perfect way to beat the heat. The Canadian Canoe Museum in Peterborough, Ontario was another cool and interesting stop on my way to Quebec.
Reaching Quebec always feels like I’m almost home. Perhaps it is family in Montreal or that Ontario is under my belt. Regardless, it is a relief to land in the belle province and to have my annual poutine fix.
It was interesting to check out the blossoming kiteboard scene on the St. Lawrence River. Pretty cool to see this urban kiteboard stronghold. This location can get extremely crowded on weekends. They discourage beginners from using the area as they could easily tangle with pedestrians.
I was even more excited to check out the river surf scene just downriver. I suspect I rented a poorly sized board for my weight (that is my excuse for sucking and I’m sticking to it) but I still had a blast checking out the local Montreal river surf scene.
The next stop was Bike Park at Mont Sainte Anne just east of Quebec City. This scenic resort overlooks the Saint Lawrence River and is one of the oldest bike parks in Canada. It is likely best known for long, technical, old school trails although a newer intermediate and beginner trail make the area fairly friendly for all abilities.
I made a pit stop in New Brunswick to hit a downhill trail I built over five years ago. It was in a bit of a state of disrepair but mostly still ridable. Unfortunately I didn’t get a good photo and it is currently an unofficial trail, so that is all about that.
After 12 days on the road I finally made it to Nova Scotia. My co-pilot Farley was as happy to be out of the car and back to our old stomping grounds as I was.
It seems that I’m not the only one who likes a cross-Canada adventure. Cape Breton’s Eagar brothers have their own Great Canadian Adventure Tour going on across the country. They seem to be making a much longer trip of it with support team, film crew and even have a cute hitchhiker along for the ride.