There's a long,
level 12-mile (19-km) stretch of the Squamish Valley Road
that makes for a mellow cycle ride. The route begins at the Cheekye
Bridge. Follow the signs to Squamish and Paradise Valleys from Hwy
99 north of Squamish, directly across from the entrance to Alice
Lake Provincial Park. Or you can cycle out along Government
Road from downtown Squamish, a rambling 6-mile (10-km) route with
charm of its own.
As the Squamish Valley Road heads northwest from the Cheekye Bridge
through the long, narrow valley, it parallels the Squamish River
for much of the way. The road is overhung with the sheltering branches
of tall broadleaf maple trees that blaze with colour in September.
The road passes through several Indian reserves on its way to Cloudburst,
a small community where the pavement ends. Along the way you'll
be treated to more staggeringly beautiful views than you can imagine.
One of the best ones occurs at the Pillchuk Creek Bridge, about
8 miles (13 km) from the Cheekye Bridge. This route also features
many places to pull off and take a break beside the river.
most vital transportation route through the Whistler Valley, after
Hwy 99 and the BC Rail line, is Whistler's Valley Trail.
Paved for much of its 10-mile (16-km) route, the trail links almost
every neighbourhood between Alpha and Green Lakes. Snowshoers, cross-country
skiers and warmly shod hikers are the principal users in winter;
once the snow melts, cyclists and in-line skaters, as well as walkers,
joggers, and strollers, vie for space. Although cyclists should
be able to cover the entire loop, in-line skaters will have to avoid
unpaved sections around Lost Lake, at least for the time being.
Community opinion is split over the merits of black-topping the
entire trail. Be that as it may, there is plenty of ground - mostly
level - to explore. You can join the trail at numerous places throughout
the valley, including the Whistler Golf Course, directly across
Hwy 99 from Whistler Village, and use it to reach any of the seven
parks, five lakes, several creeks, and a river along the route.
big cycle and in-line skate journey around the valley is the 22-mile
(35-km) section of Highway 99 that links Whistler
and Pemberton. Some folks
use this as a commuter route, while others simply cover sections
of it before turning around. How long it will take you and how far
you go depend on your conditioning. There's always the choice of
returning on the private bus service that operates frequently throughout
the day, but you'll have to ship you bike back separately as freight.
In places, Hwy 99 parallels the Green River, as well as Rutherford
Creek, both cheery companions whose rolling motion is an encouragement
to pedal harder. Hills will challenge you no matter which direction
you're travelling. Be particularly cautious in the narrow section
between Nairn Falls
Provincial Park and the BC Rail bridge that spans the highway
south of the falls. Although you'll find paved shoulders along much
of Hwy 99, there are none in this tight section.
Mountain Circle Tour, a longer route encompassing the above
sections and more, introduces cyclists to the backcountry region
in the Sea to Sky corridor.
This stunning 600 km circle tour begins north from Vancouver on
Hwy 99 and follows along steep-sided Howe Sound, a fjord-like body
of water that cuts into the Coast Mountains of BC. As you approach
Squamish admire the remarkable
series of geographical formations laid before you: Shannon Falls,
BC's third-highest waterfall, and the smooth granite features of
Stawamus Chief Mountain, one of the largest free-standing granite
monoliths in the world with Mount
Garibaldi and craggy friends on high in the distance. From here
the highway starts climbing up into the Coast Mountains. Something
magical happens when you arrive at the summit of the small valley
that contains Whistler. A cluster of little lakes is gathered here,
reflecting the outline of the mountains high above - no other lakes
have scenery quite like this to mirror. When you let your eyes rise
from the reflection to admire the real thing, the contours of the
ski runs on Blackcomb and Whistler Mountains pattern the forested
slopes. Take a deep breath of the freshest air imaginable.
From Whistler the Sea to Sky Highway continues to Pemberton and
beyond and passes through the most notably varied terrain of its
entire length. Here the change from coastal temperate zone to aridity
occurs abruptly. This section of the highway is known as the Duffey
Lake Rd - the corridor between Pemberton and Lillooet. As the Pemberton
Valley opens up, so too does the number of roads leading off
from Hwy 99 that will be of interest to those seeking backcountry
adventure. The scenery makes this cycle trip special: high peaks
straddle the valley, while the river, aided by various creeks, bubbles
along the forested floor.
The weather around Lillooet
is much drier and hotter than elsewhere in the Sea to Sky region,
so be prepared to consume a lot of liquid as you pedal along. From
Lillooet the cyclist has the choice of turning south and following
the Fraser River to join Hwy 1 at Lytton or going north and east,
climbing the Fraser River Valley to Pavilion. Highway 99 continues
east to meet Hwy 97 near historic Hat Creek Ranch on the old Gold
Rush Trail. From here cycle south to Cache
Creek and Hwy 1. This is the Trans-Canada Highway and it travels
south paralleling both the Thompson and Fraser Rivers. (You'll find
roadside fruit and vegetables stands between Lytton
and Cache Creek). Between Yale
and Hope a series of tunnels,
interspaced by long sections of heavily forested roadway, leads
through the rock walls of the Fraser Canyon. From Hope you may decide
to follow Hwy 7 along the north side of the Fraser River, through
rich agricultural country, or continue along Hwy 1 to Vancouver.
The Pemberton Valley is a natural for cycling: mostly level, lightly
trafficked, it's a pastoral setting with incredible mountain views.
Beginning from the town centre, the Pemberton Valley Road
runs north and links with Pemberton Meadows Road. Both roads
are paved and run farther than you'll probably care to pedal in
the course of a day, about 28 miles (45 km) one way. Follow Prospect
Street for a short distance past the Pemberton Pioneer Museum, to
where Pemberton Valley Rd begins. From here north the road gently
meanders past rich farmland, much of which is cultivated with seed
potatoes. Miller Creek and Ryan River empty down off the slopes
of the mountains to the west into the nearby Lillooet River. North
of Ryan River the road subtly changes its name to Pemberton Meadows
Road, and carries on north for the next 23 miles (38 km).
An important intersection to watch for is the Lillooet Lake Road,
which begins slightly more than 4 miles (7 km) north of the Outward
Bound Centre. Follow Lillooet River Road for about 1 mile (1.5 km)
to the Lillooet River Forestry Bridge, a good place to take a break.
At this point you are 16 miles (26 km) northwest of Pemberton and
will have a great view back down the valley. The trailhead to Tenquille
Lake is located on the north side of the bridge. If you choose to
follow Pemberton Meadows Road north of the Lillooet River Road intersection,
there are few approaches to the Lillooet River; the road eventually
peters out as the mountains crowd in on both sides of the river.
When you cycle
the D'Arcy-Anderson Lake Road to Mount Currie (50 miles/80
km return) you are also covering the same ground as that of the
Gold Rush Heritage Trail (see Hiking). The road runs through a narrow
valley and follows the course of the Birkenhead River for much of
the way. It a tight squeeze to fit hydro towers, the BC Rail line,
and the two-lane paved road side by side. Fortunately for cyclists,
the road is not heavily trafficked. The scenery makes this cycle
trip special: high peaks straddle the valley, while the river, aided
by various creeks, bubbles along the forested floor. Unless you're
really hard-core, you'll want to do this ride from north to south.
The elevation gain between Mount Currie and D'Arcy is 924 feet (280
m), as the road climbs to the Pemberton Pass; most of that gain
is between Mount Currie and the pass. The road is fairly level between
the Pemberton Pass and D'Arcy. You may wish to ride the morning
passenger train to D'Arcy with your bike, (bikes travel on a space-available
basis, and there is a charge) and then cycle back as far as you