Welcome to Prince Edward Island! Canada's smallest province, located on the Atlantic coast, is small in size and big in character. Best known for its friendly locals, red sand beaches, potato farms, lobster dinners, and Lucy Maud Montgomery's 'Anne of Green Gables', PEI is also a cyclists dream. It was the first province to complete its section of the Trans Canada Trail, with the 'Confederation Trail' reaching from the far west to the far east coast of the island - A route which is known locally as the 'tip-to-tip' trail. The trail itself is a modified abandoned railway line, like the majority of Trans Canada Trail sections across the country, and takes you through farmland, hardwood forest, wetlands, rivers, small towns, and charming former railway stations. Great Canadian Trails has taken highlights of this hybrid rail trail and combined them with other must-visit areas inland and along the north shore, including rolling rural back roads, the stunning Gulf Shore Ways, and through the heart of Green Gables. You have the opportunity to visit the main tourist sights as well as plenty of local gems recommended by islanders themselves. The terrain is quite gentle, especially along the hard-packed rail trail sections, but there are certainly a few paved hills to give you a bit of a challenge. Along the way you should find plenty of time to explore small artisan shops, sample local restaurants, relax on beautiful beaches, and visit little museums and interesting sites such as Avonlea Village where you can go back in time amongst heritage buildings and characters in period costumes (July and August only). Even if you're not familiar with the story, the village provides unique cultural experiences with the opportunity to try your hand at oyster shucking, and to attend a traditional Maritime kitchen party! Whatever your interest, the beautiful landscapes and friendly faces of PEI will leave you dreaming of your return to the red island.
Introductory to moderate. The Confederation Trail is primarily rolled stone dust and dirt, and mostly flat or slightly inclined terrain. In wet weather, parts of the trail may be muddy. The Gulf Shore Ways are smooth, paved surfaces and mostly flat with some slightly inclined sections. The most difficult sections are on the afternoon of Day 1 when you will ride on hillier, mostly paved back roads, and on Day 2 via the hilly paved roads through Cavendish, but this is a very short day of cycling. Most cyclists of average ability should be able to complete the route easily especially as the cycling days do not exceed approx 55 kilometers, giving stronger cyclists the options for longer routes and the opportunity to explore around enroute. Minimum 33 km to an optional maximum of approx. 76km per day.
If you have not arranged for an airport pick-up, please make your way to your centrally-located accommodation in Charlottetown (contact information provided with final documents). If time permits, we recommend extending your stay in Charlottetown to take advantage of the numerous shops, restaurants, museums, and optional day tours.
The heart of PEI, Charlottetown is also where the Fathers of Confederation met at Province House National Historic Site in 1864 to plot out the creation of Canada. In 2014, a province-wide celebration marked the sesquicentennial (150th anniversary) of the Charlottetown Conference.
You will be picked up from your accommodation around 8:30am and taken to the bicycle shop where you will pick up your bicycles and make any adjustments before being transferred to the base of the Confederation Bridge at Borden Carleton. On the way, we will make quick stops at Victoria By The Sea and Cape Traverse where you will be afforded a spectacular view of the impressive Confederation Bridge - the longest in the world spanning water which freezes solid each winter. Load up on any snacks, water, etc. and say goodbye to your driver at the start point of the Confederation Trail just outside the Borden Carleton Information Center. Heading north, the trail follows a relatively flat branch line of abandoned railway to Emerald, where it meets the Island's former main line - now the main trail - which stretches the length of the island. At Emerald, head west on the main trail to Kensington. The converted stone railway station is a perfect place to stop for lunch. From here, you have 2 paved road options to take you north to Stanley Bridge.
Option A: Approximately 21km. More direct route, heading north out of Kensington via hilly back roads through farmland and pretty countryside before crossing the bridge over Southwest River to New London (birthplace of author Lucy Maud Montgomery and home-turned-museum) via roads 20 and 6 for just 2.7km (Beware - this is a high traffic section with no shoulder - exercise extreme caution with road traffic) before detouring up through Campbellton (to avoid staying on route 6) taking you into Stanley Bridge from the north.
Option B: Approximately 32km. Avoids busy Road 6 and Road 20. Follows quiet back roads near the main trail for about 16km (or simply backtrack on the trail) to Emerald, and then north through farmland and gradual hills along scenic Rattenbury Road past rivers and creeks heading into Stanley Bridge.
Overnight at Stanley Bridge Resort with a lovely view across New London Bay.
The cycling distance today is short in order to give you plenty of time to enjoy every bit of this spectacular section of the gulf shore. A popular cycling route, road 6 from Stanley Bridge through Cavendish has a paved shoulder, allowing you to more safely explore the many Green Gables-themed tourist attractions in the area. However, it's only necessary to follow this road for part of the way, as there are much more interesting detours along the trails through Cavendish Grove, and of course along the beautiful Gulf Shore Way West - An 8.5km stretch of paved, multi-use trail following the sandy coastline, with magnificent views and lookout points over dunes and out to the sea. Optional visits to interesting Avonlea Village (best in July and August), Green Gables House, and L.M. Montgomery's Cavendish Home/post office.
Follow the Gulf Shore all the way out to pretty North Rustico Harbour/beach/lighthouse before turning west and heading into North Rustico Village, where you can enjoy a famous (and very hearty) Lobster Supper (or lunch until 4pm) before your pick-up and transfer on to Brackley Beach. From your accommodation at Brackley Beach, cycle out to the point at île Robinson, a great spot to sit on the quiet beach and watch the sun set.
Overnight Shaw's Hotel - A historic property located on its own bay, with private access to the beach (approx 600m).
Brackley Beach is located just outside of Prince Edward Island National Park and part of an extensive dune system. Another short cycling day gives you plenty of time to explore the park, dunes, beaches, and possibly even take out one of the complimentary canoes or kayaks from your bay-side accommodation. The route takes you along the east section of the scenic Gulf Shore Way (paved, multi-use trail), past Historic Dalvay-by-the-Sea (where Will and Kate spent time during their Canadian tour, participating in Dragon Boat races, and sampling local oysters). From the end of the Gulf Shore Way, you have two route options taking you to Mt. Stewart:
Option A: 20.5km direct route via shouldered roads and quiet country/residential roads which meet up with the Confederation Trail at Tracadie. The Confederation Trail section is approx 8.5km to Mt. Stewart, following the Hillsborough River, a Canadian Heritage River, for much of the way. This route is relatively flat, with an optional 5km out-and-back detour to Tracadie Harbour, where you may be lucky to see mussel fisherman at work!
Option B: 36.5km more difficult route along shouldered, hilly roads and a longer stretch of trail. This route takes you through Stanhope and Covehead and connects to the Confederation Trail at York. From York, follow the trail for approx 21.5km. This route allows you to see more of the Confederation Trail, including wide expanses dotted with hay bales and winding routes through mountain ash trees. This is a fantastic option if you are looking for a longer, more challenging day.
Overnight at the Trailside Cafe and Inn, Mt. Stewart. There is loads of character in this little building which is right next to the trail. You will enjoy a delicious dinner (included) and have the option to attend the cafe's weekly live musical performance (cover is not included).
Please note that breakfast is not included this morning, but is available next door at Kristie's Diner.
Today's route is considered by many to be the most picturesque section of the Confederation Trail, which you follow out of Mt. Stewart all the way into St. Peters Bay.
Along the way, you follow the Hillsborough River and surrounding wetlands through a designated provincial wildlife-management area alive with a variety of bird species (including a number of bald eagles), through forest and ponds until you reach the town of Morell, where the trail takes you out to the edge of St. Peters Bay and runs alongside the water crossing the mouths of three rivers on old steel trestles, offering plenty of photo opportunities of the picturesque bay and St. Peters' prominent Catholic church. Once you reach the village of St. Peters, you can opt to have lunch in town and then head straight to your very comfortable accommodation, or continue with the out-and-back route to stunning Greenwich Dunes, an adjunct of PEI National Park and considered the 'hidden jewel' of Prince Edward Island. The locals would consider it a tragedy if you didn't allocate a good part of your day to exploring the interpretive trails, beach, dunes, and over 20 provincially rare plant species making up this world-class ecological gem and local treasure.
Tonight, you will be spoiled with an incredible 3-course dinner and overnight stay at the 4-star Inn at St. Peters.
Be sure to pick up some lunch before leaving town today, as there are no amenities between St. Peters and Souris (or between St. Peters and Elmira on the eastern tip).
Depending on your interests and energy level, there are two very different route options today. From St. Peters, return to the trail and follow it east through apple trees, blackberry bushes, fields, and wetland before entering a dense, continuous forest and riding on a gradual uphill until your arrival at Harmony Junction where the trail either continues east to Elmira and the most easterly point of the trail, or branches south to Souris, where your final bed and breakfast awaits.
Option A: Total 38.5km, taking the branch south at Harmony Junction to Souris. The first half of this branch winds its way through tall, hardwood Acadian Forest with a lovely melange of maple, yellow birch and beech trees, while the second half affords more forest lookouts as you descend towards Souris. The final stretch is quite rewarding as the trail takes you through town, under a canopy of trees, through a small tunnel, and around a bend opening up to a view of sailboats, the ferry terminal, and historic Souris East Lighthouse. Souris is, in fact, the original terminus of the main rail line (Elmira was added years afterward) so if you didn't make it all the way out to Elmira, you can still be satisfied in knowing that you made it to the 'end of the line'.
Option B: Total 76.3km, heading all the way to the eastern point of the Confederation Trail at Elmira, then backtracking 8km back on the trail and turning south on back roads to take you to Basin Head Provincial Park and locally, one of the most popular beaches on the island. Enjoy a well-deserved beach break before heading back out to route 16 (at time of writing, a shoulder was being started along this stretch of road, but please use caution if choosing this itinerary) and then onto backroads which will have you meet up with the Confederation Trail on the outskirts of Souris allowing you to complete your tour by cycling to the end of the Souris line. *The main reason for choosing Option B is to simply get to the eastern point of the trail, and also to visit Basin Head Beach. This is a long route option, and should only be attempted by the avid and confident cyclist.
Make your way to your final, centrally-located accommodation in Souris for overnight.
There are no activities planned today. You will be picked up at your accommodation in Souris and transferred to Charlottetown for bicycle return and drop-off at your hotel or at the airport. Exact time and drop-off point to be confirmed prior to arrival on PEI.
Suggested day trip to Basin Head Beach / Singing Sands, if time permits.
After travelling to French Canada from Australia and doing a bus tour my partner and I (65 yrs old) started our 7 day rode around Prince Edward Island rail trail. A beautiful island, we had time to ride on a great trail , past blueberry fields which we could stop at and eat/pine trees and other trees lined the route, wetlands and flowers. Accomodation was varied and very comfortable. One night we slept above a cafe and joined the locals eating while being entertained by Irish Fiddlers. The drivers who picked up our luggage were great value telling us about local customs and history. A terrific active holiday!
Kerry Cameron, Maryborough, VIC
Good experience, good communication, excellent value for the money ~ lovely introduction to PEI and the gentle beauty the island has to offer. Will definitely travel with them again.
M. Franz, Vancouver, BC, Canada, 26 Jul 2017
We thoroughly enjoyed our bike trip on PEI. The accommodations you arranged were wonderful; the meals delicious and the people so helpful and friendly.
L. Morgan, Prince Rupert, BC Canada, 28 Sep 2017
Per Person, Twin Share