Local Maps & Off-Highway Route Options
Like many cycle tourists. I sometimes like to get off the highways, even though it means routes are generally a little longer, and maybe hillier. But you can get a different vibe, and see local life at a slower pace.
There are some excellent cycling groups on Vancouver Island and the Sunshine Coast, along with some communities that give priority to alternate transportation options like cycling. These groups have put together cycling routes and maps, many of which are online.
This section has 8 local area pages, linked off this intro page. I've pulled together some of the useful cycling maps I could find. I've added a few maps of my own creation with some off-highway route options (usually paved). I've called out some helpful links. I'd welcome hearing from groups or cyclists if they have suggestions for added maps or alternate off-highway touring routes.
The main focus here is on paved off-highway route options. This section does not include rougher backroads riding options (there's lots of those in the Fav backroads rides), though there are a few trail sections here suitable for all cycling tourists, like the amazing Cowichan Valley Trail.
Along the excellent estuary trail, entering Courtenay from the south, just east off the old Island Highway. A much nicer option than riding through all the malls. Courtenay, my home town, has some excellent riding networks, and a mountain biking hinterland up behind adjoining Cumberland.
Most of the maps focus on cycling around and within local areas, rather than passing through on the way to the next place (there's a few exceptions, like the 'Rotary Route' from Victoria ferry terminal in Swartz Bay to the Nanaimo terminal at Departure Bay). So cycle tourists will need to plan their way along, bringing ideas together from multiple maps. It's common that some options will only take you some kms beyond communities before rejoining a highway - but that's still a nice option to have.
I've noted in the intro sections that I am, for the most part, no longer updating this site (though I am keeping up on correspondence). This section on community off-highway route options (and local maps!) may be getting out of date, as many Van Isle communities are hard at work improving cycling networks. So - you may want to check for updates.
A safety caution: off major routes, you may find yourself on roads with no riding shoulders. Traffic will be less, and slower, but be sure to stay attentive at all times.
Following the pic collage below, you'll find an overall area map where you can see the different area pages available to check out for local maps and off-highway routes. Below that, is a list box of thumbnails & short descriptions, linking to the more detailed pages for the different maps or routes.
These pics are from the wonderful Lochside Regional Trail, which runs along trails, dedicated shoulders and some limited use back routes from Swartz Bay Ferry Terminal to Victoria. Victoria has excellent cycling routes linking off the Lochside Trail, such as the Galloping Goose network. Find more on Victoria Regional District cycling routes here.
Below is a list (with page links) of the maps, or alternate off-highway route areas, you can see outlined in the overview map above. Or, if you'd like a little more of a description on the linked pages, check out the thumbnail links that follow.
There's no page for the Gulf Islands as we don't have the main highways there to get off. That said, cycle tourists may want to find themselves alternate routes on larger islands like Saltspring.
Check out local maps & off-Highway alternate (mostly paved) routes
Some maps or alternate routes are found in multiple areas, as they may start in one area and finish in another.