With many travel restrictions and other complications lifted, Canadian riders will be looking to travel in 2022, especially since so many stayed at home for much of 2021 and 2020. Don’t just take our word for it—the motorcycle industry seems to be betting on it, with adventure travel bikes and baggers, even sport tourers (in some markets) all released for 2022. Say what you like about the head-office beancounters; they’ve done their research, and they expect motorcyclists to start traveling.
So, where to go in Canada? That somewhat depends where you’re starting from, but not to fear: Whether you’re out west, out east, or in the middle, our country is filled with places to ride. Admittedly, if you’re starting from the prairies, you’re going to have to travel further for twisties, but if you live in farm country, you already know that.
With that in mind, here are three routes we’d recommend you try this year, if you’re looking for something to do:
British Columbia – Route 4 to Tofino
Yeah, this is a long way from Alberta, and even further from true prairie country. Just getting to the Horseshoe Bay ferry will take you about 13 hours from Edmonton, and almost 15 hours from Calgary. But if you make just getting there part of the fun, this trip can be very enjoyable indeed. For real adventure (and if you’re on a real adventure bike), take a look at Editor ‘Arris’s trip through BC on ADV machines, with Mister Seck taking photos, back in 2002 (Part 1, Part 2). That was two decades ago, and you probably have their exact same ride today, but BC is filled with endless logging roads that can take the edge off the superslab, if you’re on the right bike.
Whichever way you go, on dirt or pavement, to get to Route 4 you must first sail to Vancouver Island. You’ll depart the mainland via ferry ride, which is even more fun. A ferry ride is practically essential to a good motorcycle trip. Unless you’re the easily-seasick type, of course! (Pro tip: Stay outside and keep an eye on the horizon).
When you get on Route 4, you’re in for a treat, scooting along lakes, through mountains, all via endless corners, corners, corners. You might encounter some traffic, especially before Port Alberni, but as with all tourist destinations, the time of day that you ride will have a direct impact on the business of the roads (Another pro tip: Most tourists aren’t crack-of-dawners, so if you want to beat the RVs, get out early).
Your journey will end in the surf town of Tofino, well-known for its laid-back West Coast vibe. Editor ‘Arris highly enjoyed his time here. See his write-up of his trip here.
Quebec – Route 138
Wait, Route 138? That busy, tourist-clogged slog up the St. Lawrence?
Hear us out. It’s true that tourists can clog this highway up sometimes, and it’s also true that the province has been doing a lot of construction on it in recent years. This means delays, and it also means some of the most enjoyable-to-ride stretches are being straightened out or widened. The stretch from Baie-Saint-Paul to Les Escoumins is not what it was a decade ago.
Having said that: Route 138 is still lots of fun on a cruiser, with hills, sweepers and scenery. If you’re in search of something a bit more sporty, use either Saguenay or Tadoussac as a base, and run up and down the Saguenay River on 172 and 170. This was part of a CMG Fall Tour, and it was a spectacular ride in fall colours.
Or, you’re on an adventure bike? You can turn inland at Baie-Comeau for Route 389, which starts off as twisty paved fun and then eventually turns into an unpaved romp through Quebec’s northern infrastructure, including the Manic-Cinq dam, a lot of forestry, and the Fire Lake mine. Eventually, this ends in Labrador, where you can travel around to Newfoundland and work your way back home via ferry (as Zac did in 2019). Or, just head back to the south of the province again on the way you came.
No matter whether you’re on a cruiser, a sport bike or an adventure bike, there’s something for you off Route 138, and in the tourist-centered coastal towns, you can always count on finding a good place to eat and enjoyable accommodations. Once you’re past Les Escoumins, things do get a bit more rustic, and past Baie Comeau, it’s the woods whether you go north on the coast or inland on Rt. 389. You can still find a place to stay and eat, though, if camping isn’t your thing.
Route 138 starts to get fun almost as soon as you leave Quebec City’s outskirts, so it’s very accessible. You can get there in a good day’s ride from the GTA; take the slow roads, and enjoy the ride along the way.
Nova Scotia – Cabot Trail plus the South Shore
Everyone’s heard about the Cabot Trail, and almost everyone’s done it on a bike, if they’re on the east coast. But for many of us, that’s been at least a couple of years now, and the local roadbuilders have been busy improving some stretches of the trail in that time. The legendary corner at the bottom of Cape Smokey is re-done, for instance, and we hear it’s still an excellent time.
The Cabot Trail itself is plenty of fun no matter what sort of bike you have. You’ll see cruisers, sportbikes, adventure bikes, anything with two wheels. We’ve got a write-up here, in case you’re wondering which way around the Trail is best clockwise or counter-clockwise.
We’d recommend going both ways, if you can find the time. The views are stunning in each direction, and the corners will offer a slight pucker in one direction that you might not get in the other direction, if you’re into that sort of thing.
We’d also recommend making the effort to stay in some of Cape Breton’s more interesting accommodations. You can have an excellent meal (not just deep-fried fish and potatoes) at countless restaurants along the Trail, or close-by. Baddeck makes an excellent base to take advantage of both, as does Cheticamp.
If you end up spending 2-3 days riding Cape Breton (very easy to do) and you’ve still got a couple of days left to kill on the east coast, you might enjoy a spin through southern Nova Scotia. It’s in the same province as Cape Breton, but it’s culturally different and a lot of fun if you’re on the roads. Don’t expect the same hairpins and views as the Cabot Trail, but if you stick to the scenic route (look for the Lighthouse Route road signs), you’ll find Canada’s best fish-and-chips (it’s the fresh haddock!) and gorgeous sandy beaches.
See Editor ‘Arris’s fun in southern NS, with Michael Uhlarik and Zac close behind, at this link here. Generally speaking, they enjoyed the eastern side of this trip more than the west, but both the Atlantic Ocean coastline and the Bay of Fundy coastline were mega fun.
Tofino is very much a victim of its own success. I would never recommend going there in the summer; go in the spring or the fall after the kids are back in school, and stay in quieter working-class Ucluelet, 40KM to the south.
The Anacortes ferry is not running this summer and in any case would not get you to Saltspring Island but in Sidney on Vancouver Island. Also better book your hotel early if you need a place to stay in Tofino and bring a big wallet with you!
Too many motorhome campers and Volkswagen van going to Tofino you always have one or the other going the other direction enjoying the view IN YOUR LANE.
There is much more to riding on Vancouver Island than a trip to tourist-packed, upper-yuppie Tofino. Stay on Hwy. 19 all the way up to Port Hardy, and enjoy to areas along the way.