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bei Banff, Alberta (Canada)
Multi day touring/ MTB trail across British Columbia starting in Banff (just over border in Alberta) and finishing at Horseshoe Bay outside Vancouver (ferry to Vancouver Island where trail could be continued). Use of highways/ gravel road/ old railway line roughly following the route of the Trans Canada Trail. General notes:
Daily average mileage will depend on ability/ terrain etc. There are some tough sections on this trail - notably the Gray Creek Pass (especially if doing this trail west to east - much steeper).
First 3 days on road to cover more mileage and skip more remote section of TCT.
Sections such as Gray Creek Pass will be snowbound until June/ early July at times. Check http://graycreekstore.com/news for updates.
Some sections of this trail are very remote and good planning is required.
Carry bear spray and be ready to use it!
Many sections of the Kettle Valley Railway are in poor condition due to the trail being ripped up by ATV's. This results in a sandy/ loose gravel surface which makes cycling much harder. My touring (cyclocross) bike with 38mm touring tires just made it but MTB tires would be more comfortable. Long sections of the rail trail were skipped using roads where available but some sections there is no road option.
In places the TCT is poorly marked and badly maintained. The worst section on this route was alongside highway 5 between Brookmere and Coquihalla Lakes. No signs/ landslips/ trees across trail/ overgrown/ almost non existent path/ gravel sections. I resorted to using highway 5 in the end.
Section Hope to Vancouver tries to use less busy roads, in part following Highway 1 alternative route. But signage is also a problem and roads get progressively busier on approach to Vancouver. Last section very busy and hilly. Appear to be multiple bike routes available on entry to Vancouver but again hard to follow at times.
A rewarding, beautiful and at times remote trip.
Ferry to Vancouver Island from Horseshoe Bay
Start of difficult, poorly signposted section to Coquihalla Lakes. Basically follow Highway 5 or to speed things up join the highway - traffic is busy but there's a decent hard shoulder.
Old station here. No facilities.
Easier and faster to ride up gravel road to this point, then turn off onto rail trail again towards Brookmere.
Good overnight camping location before ascent to Brookmere. Beware bears very active in this area!
Very quiet place - Tulameen is bigger and has good general store.
Overnight option, next to Chain Lake. Camping also available. This B & B is a very steep climb off the road up a gravel track but worth it!
Great lunch stop after Princeton on way to Tulameen
25 mile descent from Chute Lake to Penticton - one of the best and easiest sections of the KVR. Watch out for rattlesnakes! Lots of vineyards on approach to Penticton. Town is large, lots of facilities, very busy in summer.
Good overnight spot. Lodge with bunk rooms, camping available. Restaurant - but shuts at 7pm!
Highlight of the KVR. Very busy with tourists, but a mile either side becomes completely deserted again.
Good place for stocking up, coffee etc.
Overnight option. Start of the Kettle Valley Railway
Good stop for refreshments - Copper Eagle Bakery!
Old station stop, nothing left to see now. Downhill all the way to Midway
Cascade or Catherine Lake good overnight stop. Very hospitable B & B here https://www.facebook.com/CascadeCityGuestHouse/
I arrived very late - restaurant at next door golf club closed so owner went out and got me pizzas. Thank you!
From here downhill all the way to Catherine Lake, but trail is sandy with loose gravel lower down.
About 10km before the summit. A 900m long tunnel. Water available at tunnel entrance. Tunnel is very dark, cold and long!
About 6km outside Castlegar, after the huge lumber mill next to the lake. Start of a very long climb and very remote section of trail. The next habitation is Christina Lake about 50 miles further, although wild camping is possible along the trail.
This is a free ferry! First run around 7am, good timing to have breakfast on the ferry.
After Gray Creek Pass, a good place to stop with accommodation options before taking the ferry across Kootenay Lake to Balfour
From the Kimberley side this is a long climb, not too steep but on progressively rougher track. Descent to Gray Creek is much steeper and shorter - up to 15% gradient
Unless camping wild this is about the closest location to start the climb to Gray Creek Pass from the Kimberley side.
Accommodation available here.
Kootenay Lodge at Vermillion Crossing. Historic lodge in the middle of Kootenay National Park. Accommodation, restaurant, shop. Lots of bears around here....
Crossing the continental divide