James Bay is the south end of Victoria, on a small peninsula between the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the Inner Harbour.
One way out of James Bay is north along Menzies or Government to the Legislature, and along Government and Wharf along the Inner Harbour. Usually, I take Wharf along the harbour and use the Johnson Street Bridge to cross into Victoria West (the east end of the Esquimalt peninsula). The bridge is the south end of the Capital Regional District trails (Galloping Goose, E & N, Lochside). The old Blue Bridge is being replaced, in a project that has been taking years. It’s a working draw bridge that has to be raised for maritime traffic between the Inner Harbour and the Upper Harbour. The side bridge (the E & N rail line and formerly the cyclist path) came off. The old bridge was still open as of 2014, 2015, 2016 – with bike lane for westbound traffic. The bridge is the entry point for Esquimalt Road or Tyee and Craigflower, the main streets running through Victoria West and Esquimalt. Esquimalt is bounded on the north and east by the Gorge and Victoria Harbour, and the west by Esquimalt Harbour. There are bridges across the Gorge at Tillicum and Admiral’s Road, permitting an exit to the north east into Saanich. The Island Highway runs northwest in View Royal and Langford, and then turns and heads southwest to Colwood.
The main option is to take the Johnson Street Bridge and the regional trail to the Swing Bridge and take either the Goose west out to the West Shore area, or the Lochside north into the Saanichstans.
Douglas Street and Blanshard Streets are heavily travelled. Douglas Street becomes a highway (the Trans-Canada) west to Colwood and Langford, over the Malahat and north up-island. It has a paved shoulder and bike lane, but the traffic on the entrance and exit ramps is significant. Blanshard Street runs up to Saanich and the BC Ferry terminal at Swartz Bay. It is a highway, called Highway 17 or the Pat Bay Highway. It has bike lanes, but significant traffic.
The second main way out of James Bay is by going east along Dallas Road and past Beacon Hill. Dallas continues until it runs into Hollywood Crescent and Crescent Drive, which also follow the water’s edge along the Strait. The traffic along Dallas is steady. There are intermittent micro-congestions behind tour buses and the ubiquitors horse drawn carriage rides. There are sections where cars park at an angle facing the Strait. The drivers have little vision and can back into oncoming traffic.
Another option is to go downtown as far as Fort Street and east and north on Fort Street. It has a bike lane. It connects to Oak Bay and runs east out to Beach, or carries on and become Cadboro Bay. There is also an option of heading up Richmond , which leads out towards U Vic.
Several streets, on a map, go north: Quadra, Cook, Gorge Road,, Cedar Hill, Richmond, Shelbourne. They have drawbacks including traffic, lack of bike lanes, curves, limited visibility, curb lanes occupied by parked cars, elevation changes. Some sections are a necessary part of some rides.
Several streets, on a map, go east and west in places: Equimault Road, Craigflower, Bay, Lansdown/Hillside/Gorge Road, MacKenzie, Cedar Hill Cross (X) Road. They have drawbacks including traffic, lack of bike lanes, curves, limited visibility, curb lanes occupied by parked cars, elevation changes. Some sections are a necessary part of some rides, but generally these should be avoided.
Royal Oak Drive started at Cordova Bay Road at the north end of Mount Douglas Park. The Lochside trail crosses it near Lochside School. (which showed up in one of the commercials for the London Olympics in 2012 – the ones narrated by Gordon Pinsent)
Royal Oak goes west from Mount Douglas, past Broadmead Village (a shopping center with Canadian Tire, Thifty’s and many incidental stores) and across the Pat Bay Highway. It has bike lanes as far west as Highway 17, but loses them on the overpass. Traffic is heavy. It has some climbs and descents.
Waypoints, Short Rides
James Bay & Beacon Hill Park
There is 5 k. loop around James Bay on Belleville along the Harbour on the north, the streets at the west end, Dallas on the south, and Douglas on the east. There is longer loop around Beacon Hill Park by Cook Street, and some loops in the park. These are usually safe in the evening but the traffic on Sundays is heavy between tourists, families with children, people walking dogs, and people taking elderly parents out (any of which can makes for a wide party of inattentive persons blocking the path).
The Victoria Canoe & Kayak Club is on Gorge Road just past Tillicum. My best route is through downtown, over the Johnson Street Bridge, along the Galloping Goose to the park at the West Victoria Y, near the Selkirk Trestle. At that point it’s off the trail through the park to Craigflower and then on Selkirk, a side street that runs parallel to Craigflower, all the way to Tillicum. At that point a right turn onto Tillicum, across the bridge, a left turn onto Gorge Road and that’s it. 6.8 k one way, mainly off the main roads.
U Vic (Gordon Head) Mount Douglas
The University of Victoria campus, near Gordon and Mount Douglas and the park around it are north and east of James Bay and downtown Victoria.
A direct route to Mount Douglas, bypassing U Vic and Gordon Head, is up Cook Street, until it branches onto Cedar Hill. Cedar Hill turns into Shelbourne near the Park. Shebourne turns into the Cordova Bay Road at the edge of the Park. Cook is heavily travelled by Victoria standards, but wide and generally 4 lanes. There are some sharp climbs on Cook and some really steep ones along Cedar Hill. The surface is good.
The coastal option for a route to Mt. D. starts along the Strait along Dallas, Crescent and Beach. Along Crescent, at about 5 k, I can turn north on Foul Bay Road to McNeill or Oak Bay and east to Beach. I can also stay on Crescent Drive and, continue up and over King George Terrace – a climb – and then Beach .
One option is to go down to Beach near the Oak Bay Marina and stay on Beach out to Cordova Bay. I can take a short leg on Oak Bay, then continue along Richmond past the Royal Jubilee Hospital and ride north to the Cedar Hill X Road (there a several roads running east and west in and around Victoria call Cross Roads). A short leg on Cedar Hill X takes me to Shelbourne or to Cedar Hill, and then north to the Park. This approach bypasses U Vic.
Typically I stay on Foul Bay until it branches on Cadboro Bay Road, near the Royal Jubilee Hospital, or on Foul Bay. Either way, there is a long steady climb, about 1 k., to Lansdowne. Along Cadboro Bay, that brings me to the Uplands Golf Course. Along Foul Bay I pass the main campus of Camosun College. Both routes reach the Cedar Hill X Road, which skirts the southern edge of the U Vic campus. I can pass U Vic on Cadboro Bay and continue to Gordon Head, or go through or around the campus 3 or 4 different ways. Cadboro Bay, it runs into Arbutus, which runs into Ferndale. If go through or around U Vic, I can go by Finnerty or Gordon Head Road to Arbutus and/or Ferndale. Ferndale become Grandview, and Grandview become Ash, running to the edge of Mount Douglas Park where it becomes Cordova Bay Road. The different routes mean slightly different scenery, and slightly different distances and climbs.
The roads are good, not too heavily traveled except Shelburne and McKenzie, which I usually avoid. There is fast straight downhill on Ash, which gets tricky if a car turns out of driveway or side street.
Regardless of route, I come out on Cordova Bay Road at the south east edge of the park and run along the base of Mount Douglas through some older Douglas firs. The road is heavily traveled, but it has a bike lane. At the north end of the park, Cedar Hill reaches an intersection. I can make a sharp left turn and head south up Blenkinsop and hook up with Cook. I make a soft left turn onto Royal Oak, or I can make a soft right and proceed on Cordova Bay.
I can add variations to the ride to Mt. Douglas by taking cross streets between Beach, Foul Bay, and Cook, including Richardson and Oak Bay, and Lansdowne. I can also stay in Oak Bay and the north east part of Victoria and make some climbs and loops. On Rockwood, I can make a quick run to Cook or Blanshard and the edge of downtown. Lansdowne involves the same climb from the water to Uplands Golf Course and Camosun, from a different direction. Instead of turning off Lansdowne for U Vic, I can follow Lansdowne, which becomes Hillside and then turn on Cook, or stay on Hillside and follow it as it become Gorge Road. Lansdowne and Hillside are heavily traveled, as they pass some shopping malls.
Royal Oak/Elk Lake
On the west side of the Pat Bay, and north of Royal Oak, there are options including turning onto Elk Lake Drive and into Beaver Lake/Elk Lake Park. There is access from Beaver Lake oad at the south end to a trail around the lakes. The trail on the west side of the lakes is open for cycling. It is an old rail grade (I have not figured out which one. It is about 4 k. of trail north to Brookleigh Road, which lead to other options, One is to turn east on Brookleigh out to the Pat Bay, ride the paved shoulder until the north end of Elk Lake Drive or Royal Oak.
Another main option out past the Pat Bay is West Saanich Road or something which intersects Wallace at Brentwood Bay and crosses the more pastoral parts of the peninsula.
The routes back are by Blenkinsop or Cedar Hill to Cook. Another direct return is Royal Oak to the Lochside School, and then back south by the trail.
Regional Trails & Routes
All are marked routes for cycling, suitable for touring and road bikes. A few have sections closed to motor vehicles but, shared with roller-bladers, skate-boarders, pedestrians, motorized scooters, wheelchairs, mobility aids, children, horses and dogs. Three – Galloping Goose, Lochside, E & N – start at the Johnson Street Bridge, aka the Blue Bridge.
The Galloping Goose Rail trail follows Harbour Road in Victoria West. It becomes a paved trail near the end of Harbour Road (at Tyee). The Regional District installed a bike barometer counter at this point in December 2014. It runs on the Esquimalt shore to the Selkirk trestle, then in a cut west of Douglas Street, and at though the back side of the commercial properties along Douglas as as far as Mayfair. It crosses Douglas via the Swing bridge, a repurposed structure. There is a water station at the Swing Bridge. At the northeast end of the Swing Bridge, it forks into the Lochside and Galloping Goose trails. The traffic at the foot of the bridge can get congested.The Goose follows Douglas out to the Old Island Highway.
The road crossings at McKenzie, Tillicum and Burnside near Helmken require stops. The Old Island Highway goes under an overpass at Douglas Street (Highway 1). As of 2015-2016 the trail west and north of the Old Island Highway is both the Galloping Goose and part of the new E & N. It is paved as far as Wale Road. There are two crossings of Atkins Road which leads to the E & N Trail. There are plans to extend the E & N across and away from Wale. The trail swerves away from Douglas Street to take a safe route to cross Douglas and follows the Old Island Highway west. This takes it into the Highlands north of View Royal and in the central-northern part of Langford. It is paved, but far from the highways and fairly quiet. There are some patches of housing development and side roads. Some of the road crossings are at the bottom of hills, so it’s tempting to blast across to get a run up the other side.
There is a tangled bit where the trail crosses Wale and the Old Island Highway. Basically, it is necessary to follow Wale to the Old Island Highway and cross at the light. The old maps suggest there was trail on the opposite side of Wale Road, but it has been blocked by development. After 2012, it became necessary to cross Wale Road, and use a bike lane or getting by the Co-op Gas and a mall, then crossing Old Island Highway. The Galloping Goose trail picks up and goes past Fort Rodd Hill and Royal Roads. There is another crossing of the Old Highway in front of Royal Roads – and a water station.
For rides out to Matheson Lake or the Sooke Basin or beyond, parking at the Juan de Fuca Recreation Centere, or in the lot opposite Royal Roads on the Old Island Highway is an option.
It continues past Royal Roads and across the Old Island Highway through the West Shore communities and then west towards the Sooke Basin. The Goose is gravel west of the Old Island Highway.
Crossing Veteran’s Memorial in the big box distict is an event, as is crossing Sooke Road near the firehall at Sooke Road end of Happy Valley Road. There are other crossings of streets near the big box stores that require a dismount and a crossing signal e.g. Jacklin Road. It crosses several roads in the West Shore communities, requiring slowing down or stopping and crossing with traffic signals. After two crossings of Happy Valley Road it has long stretches without road crossings.
E & N
The E & N follows the line of the Esquimault & Nanaimo Railway. The tracks are still in place, separated from the trail by a fence. VIA Rail has the option of resuming rail service. The trail is under development. The parts in use as of 2016 in Vic West, Esquimault and View Royal, are all paved. There are drainage grates.
It starts at the Johnson Street Bridge. The first bit is a bike lane along Esquimault Road. The trail leave the road where the tracks cross Esquimault near Russell Street, in Vic West. The CRD and the City laid out the bike lanes to cross the tracks at right angles before turning into the trail. The first bit of trail after leaving Equimault Road is squeezed between a business property and the track. There are several road crossings. The minor ones are parallel to level rail crossings with crossing arms that jut out into the trail. There is only one bit shared with vehicles. The major crossings are Lampson, and Admirals Road/Colville at the main entrance of the naval base.
Leaving the trail at the first street crossing after Lampson, and taking Colville to Admirals Road avoid a few street crossingThe crossings at the base entrance involve two roads, tracks and the base.
The trail follows the tracks to the edge of the Songhees land at Maplebank Road. This part of the trail can be skipped. Admirals Road is wide and in good shape from the base to the Songhees land. There is a bike lane for the climb up to the edge of Esquimault at Caroline Street, which the top of the climb and close to the ege of the Songhees land. Maplebank climbs from the trail to Admirals, and intersect Admirials a short distance from the top of a climb. From that point, the only route is Admirals Road, which has no bike lane at this point. There is a narrow paved shoulder but it has some cracks and bumps and is shared with pedestrians – no sidewalks. A descent to the intersection of Hallowell – with a traffic light – and a left turn at Hallowell (Admirals Walk mall – the Thrifty’s store) to get back to the trail, or ride along the shoulder approaching Craigflower and the bridge over the end of the Gorge. Hallowell is a side entrance to the mall . At this point, the rider is in View Royal, a suburban municipality .
The View Royal bit of the trail south of the Old Island Highway) is nice, all the way to Old Island Highway and Douglas. The trail follows the rail line and is elevated over a couple of busier streets.It rejoins the Galloping Goose Trail. On some maps the E & N trail is shown as continuing into Langford, by way of Atkins Road. Atkins is a narrow asphalt road, apparently parallel to the rail corridor, with some housing. It has a bit of bike lane in urban Langford but is mainly narrow, without shoulders. It intersects the Goose twice. It climbs into the Highlands. There is, as of 2016, construction to develop a corridor parallel to Atkins, scheduled for completion later 2016.
There is a developed section from Savory School (on Atkins) to Jacklin Road parallel to Station Road in Langford. This section has road crossings – and they involve finding crossing Millstream Road (Veteran’s Memorial Parkway) and Peatt Road (and then getting back on the trail through posts and gates.
It is efficient to just stay on the road, cross urban Langford section and take Jacklin to Jenkins and get in the Glen Lake Loop bike lane, and get onto the Goose or Happy Valley Road where the Goose crosses the Sooke Road.
Langford has some bike lanes where they could be squeezed in on paved shoulders along some roads. The cycling infrastructure. It is better than in Metchosin or Colwood (where the standard is no shoulders and lots of entitled drivers who crowd riders), but not as good as the City’s marketing holds out.
Lochside begins at the swing bridge as a fork of the Galloping Goose. runs diagonally north and east toward Mount Douglas. The Lochside trail is mainly paved out past McKenzie Avenue, then continues as a mix of gravel trails, asphalt streets and gravel roads out pretty well to Swartz Bay. After Island View, it is a combination of following Lochside Drive with a trail along Highway 17, and some streets through Sidney. The trail is mainly gravel from Royal Oak to McKenzie and Quadra with wooden bridges over bogs along Blenkinsop Lake and Swan Lake. The gravel is good – depending on traffic and grade. There is some loose gravel and dirt on a working farm south of Island View.
There are water stations: beside the Don Mann Excavating (a big local contractor) yard (north of McKenzie), McMinn Park (north of Royal Oak), near the Mount Newton Cross Road, Tulista Park (Sidney)
There is loop through Hunt Valley off the trail north of Lochside Park and the golf course onto Sayward or Dooley following Hunt Road, Welch and Martindale, coming back to the trail near Michell’s Farm at Island View. The Hunt Valley part is pebbled asphalt with some climbs but some nice downhills, and lovely views.
This is identied as a route on some maps and the “Interurban Rail Trail” on signs and other maps – for instance this map on John Luton’s Cycling Vancouver Island site. It uses Interurban Road, West Saanich Road and Wallace Drive, out to the Lochside Trail in Central Saanich.
It intersects the Galloping Goose, with a bit of navigation involved in getting off one trail and onto the other. There is a trail off the Goose just past Tillicum (5 Km out from the Johnson Street Bridge) and down to Interurban. There are a couple of alternative places to leave the Goose and get on to side streets that run into Interurban. The section along Interurban has a consistent bike lane, pinching out at a couple of places. It mainly climbs to West Saanich, but gently. Entry to West Saanich Road is at an intersection with traffic lights. The routes continues as the bike lane or paved shoulder of West Saanich, climbing to the access road to the observatory. There is a left turn at bottome of a hill, at the uncontrolled intersection of Wallace. Wallace is mainly old pebbled asphalt. The first section from West Saanich Road into Brentwood Bay is narrow, without even a paved shoulder. The asphalt have been patched, but some of the patches are breaking down. It is a bit wider and has a bike lane most of the way from Brentwood Bay into Saanichton. The intersection of Wallace and East Saanich Road in Saanichton is offset. There is a left turn onto East Saanich and right turn off back onto Wallace a block later. At this point, the road is lightly travelled. It follows a ridge through an agricultural area into a cluster of houses. Wallace runs into Amity which drops toward the Pat Bay. Amity does not cross the Pat Bay. There is a short block of Amity east of the Pat Bay. the Lochside is less than 100 m. way.There is a footbridge over the Pat Bay. Someone decorated some of signs with promotional stickers for Rockstar Vodka.
A ride to Sidney and back from James Bay is about a 65 k ride on the Lochside trail. I can turn it into a century by going to Oak Bay and out to Mt. Douglas first, then crossing to West Saanich Road and meandering across rural Saanich around the airport, or out around Deep Cove or Swartz Bay before riding to Sidney.
On July 15, 2007 I started with the outbound part of the Mt Douglas ride. Second leg: Brentwood Bay by Royal Oak & W. Saanich Rd. Third leg: Sidney by Stelly’s X, E. Saanich Rd., Mount Newton X, Lochside. Break: at 47 k., Serious Coffee in Sidney. Fourth leg: Brentwood Bay by Lochside, Mt Newton X, E. Saanich Rd, Wallace. Fifth leg: east again by Keating X to Oldfield, south to Brookleigh (N. end of Elk and Beaver Lake) east to the Pat Bay Highway, south on the shoulder. Sixth leg: Royal Oak to W. Saanich, Markham and the Camosun campus to the Interurban, south to Burnside. Then I had a short stretch on the Goose, out Cloverdale to Cook, down to Dallas. 90k. Finish: Loops around Beacon Hill and James Bay.
On August 6, 2007, I tried a route that started with the outbound part of the typical Mt. Douglas ride. Second leg: Royal Oak to W. Saanich Road, and out to Brentwood Bay. Third leg: Wallace to Saanichton, E. Saanich Rd to Willingdon, around the airport. Mills, Beacon, to Sidney. Break at 50 k at Serious Coffee in Sidney. Fourth leg – South: Lochside along Bazan Bay to Mt Newton X. Central Saanich, (Keating X) and Oldfield to Brookleigh. Pat Bay Hy. (shoulder) to Royal Oak, W. Saanich to Markham, Camosun, Interurban, W. Burnside, down to Douglas. Fifth leg – south and east: Galloping Goose to the Gorge. Gorge Road, Hillside, Lansdown to Foul Bay Rd. Finish: waterfront to Cook, up to Cook Street Village, loop on Oxford and Moss back to Dallas, past Ogden Point. Montreal, Niagara and Boyd.
Another option of getting a century would be Mount Douglas, Royal Oak, and then West Saanich all the way to Deep Cove, around Swartz Bay, and then back into Sidney, etc.
Other options for long rides can be taken from the Tour de Victoria 2012 Map.
The Victoria & Gulf Island Cycling and Walking Map, developed by the Greater Victoria Cycling Coalition and Davenport Maps is in a 5th edition (2013 ?). It has a QR code that opens updates if you have a device and a connection. It is sold at MEC, some cycling stores and some book stores. It show places where there are trails and paths where the pavement end to make connections. It also shows climbs and descents with chevrons. It shows bike stores and rentals.
John Luton’s Cycle Vancouver Island site is aimed at touring visitors.
John Crouch’s Bike Victoria, in either the original 2006 edition or the 2012 revised edition, is useful. (The revision adds some mountain bike routes, but mainly adjusts the ride notes). The author’s web page has a list of stores where it is available. Here is my list and concordance. Distances are from Crouch’s suggested start points.
|Red 2012||Blue 2006||Km.||Area/ Ride Name|
|Victoria, Oak Bay, Esquimault|
|3||20||Coffee Shop Crawl|
|3||14||Downtown/Oak Bay Marina|
|4||4||21||James Bay/Oak Bay|
|5||14||Beacon Hill Park/Oak Bay|
|5||6||33||Beacon Hill Park/Mt. Douglas Park/Broadmead|
|6||7||24||Oak Bay/Uvic/ Ten Mile Point|
|8||8||31||Equimault, View Royal|
|9||9||28, 44, 56||Coastline Route (3 variants)|
|Saanich, Central Saanich, North Saanich, Sidney|
|11||11||24||Elk & Beaver Lake/Brentwood Bay/Saanichton|
|12||12||18||Elk & Beaver Lake/Cordova Bay|
|13||13||29||Beaver Lake/Prospect Lake/Brentwood Bay|
|14||14||30||Tillicum Mall/Interurban Road/Highland Road|
|15||15||20||Carey Road/Layritz Park/Burnside Road|
|16||16||10||Mt. Douglas Park/Blenkinsop Valley|
|18||18||22, 27, 32||Cordova Bay/Island View Beach Pk./Central Saanich|
|19||19||25||Panorama Rec. Centre/Ardmore Drive|
|20||20||15||Bazan Bay/Central Saanich|
|21||21||32||Bazan Bay/Deep Cove/Curteis Point/Sidney|
|23||23||10||Wain Road/Deep Cove|
|24||24||16||Blue Heron Park/Lands End Road|
|25||25||36||Tour of the Highlands|
|26||40||Roads & Trails|
|26||27||66, 93||Tour of Saanich|
|27||28||39||Highlands/Humpback Road/Galloping Goose|
|28||29||24||Atkins Road/Happy Valley Road/Esquimault Lagoon|
|29||30||27||Tour of Metchosin|
|33||42, 160||Jordan River|
|Roads & Trails|
|32||65, 45, 28||Peninsula Loops|
|33||46||Bear Hill/Layritz Park Loop|
|34||54, 48||Thetis Lake Loops|
|35||62||Hazlitt Creek Loop|
|36||34||32, 22||Shawnigan Lake/Cameron Taggert Road|
|37||35||97||Shawnigan Lake via the Malahat Drive|
|38||36||47||Mill Bay/Cowichan Bay/Shawnigan Lake|
|39||37||30||Cowichan Valley Winery Tour|
34, 20, 10
|Galloping Goose Regional Trail|
|Lochside Regional Trail|
|42||40||28||Trans-Canada/Cowichan Valley Trail|
|Routes Into Victoria|
|44||42||30, 32||Swarz Bay Ferry Terminal|