Friday, January 1, 2010

Trans Canada Highway - the planning begins

Happy New Year to you all!

It is January 1st and my goal for this year is to ride the Trans-Canada Highway through the south-eastern provinces, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia - Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland.

Wikipedia is great place to get your first lesson about the Trans-Canada highway system. I thought that the Trans-Canada Highway was just one r e a l l y long road under federal jurisdiction. I was wrong. If you want to go from Victoria,  British Columbia to St. Johns, Newfoundland, you will traverse a network of highways that are governed by the individual provinces.

I'll be using this extraordinary Trip and Vacation Planner website for the Trans-Canada Highway. You can look at the itinerary segments on Google maps (choice of satellite, map, hybrid or terrain views) for the entire highway system, broken up by province, with elevation details and mileage. You can navigate across maps or by pull-down menu. Itineraries have links to attractions, accommodations.  I was delighted to see a list of "known speed traps" on the Nova Scotia page. The information that any traveler wants is right up front:

  1. Overview of the highway, a detailed travel itinerary, and trip planning suggestions.
  2. Weather conditions, with "normals" and forecasts along the highway as well as road conditions
  3. Information about geography, flora & forests, fauna & wildlife, and agriculture (both plants & animals) that you may see in between the cities & towns along the way.
  4. Route itineraries in handy 200-300 km segments to facilitate trip planning (in both miles and kilometres)
  5. Getting to & from Toronto, Canada's largest city not on the Trans-Canada Highway
I have just started planning this trip. The primary constraint - there are always constraints - is time, I've got four weeks. I'll be starting this ride in upstate New York. The timing challenge will be to balance the time traveling north-of-the-US border heading west with the time it will take to complete the last leg of the journey heading southwest back to San Francisco. Will I make it to Victoria, BC or will I have to turn south in Regina, Saskatchewan? The route below is just shy of 8,000 miles (no side trips).

This trip will be a combination of tent and credit card camping. I'm particularly interested in open spaces, I love being around wildlife.  If you have traveled on the Trans-Canadian Highway system through the south-central and south-eastern provinces and have suggestions about your favorite routes or places to see or stay at, please let me know.


SonjaM said...

What a great plan! Best of luck for the trip ahead. I hope you will have the opportunity to blog from the road. Cheers and Happy New Year from Calgary, AB

Sojourner rides said...

Sounds like a great trip. I'm looking forward to following your plans. I've ridden parts of the TCH in my travels around the Great Lakes. As your plans develop I'll hunt through my notes for interesting places to stop. The area around Lake Superior is breathtakingly beautiful IMHO. Good Luck.

Rider said...

Having ridden in eastern canada since I started, got a couple suggestions. Cabot trail in Cape Breton Nova Scotia is, Gaspe Bay Pennisula in eastern Quebec, any coast line in Nova scotia and New Brunswick. Particularly the Bay of Fundy. If you are near Halifax, go to Peggy's Cove and keep heading south to Mahone Bay and Lunenburg. Nice detour I took to avoid highway 40 between Quebec City and to get completely around Montreal was 138 then 158 on way to Ottawa. Slight maze in Trois Rivere, might want to consider hopping on 40 for a bit. Taking the 7 west of Ottawa will avoid most of 401 until Toronto. Enjoy the trip!

Cecilie Hoffman said...

Rider, Thanks much! This is exactly the sort of information I'm looking for. - Cecilie

Moto Italy said...

Wonderful plan !!
have a nice trip

gerard said...

2008 I followed US 20 Newport OR to Boston Ma (20-C2C) and TCH St Johns to Victoris BC (TCH-N2N). 11k starting in Klamath Falls OR. Easy riding except for rain in Atlantic Provinces and cross winds wedging tires in Canadian Prairie. Don't miss West Quoddy Head ME; eastern most point US mainland.

2009 visited 49 State Capitals + DC and 7 outer geographical points accessible by tarmac.

2007 Triumph Sprint, @91k today.

Cecilie Hoffman said...

Gerard, sounds like you had a great trip. Thanks for confirming that rain suits are mandatory. I've added Quoddy Head, ME to our site list.

ITellYa-PB said...

Hi Cecilie,

Welcome to Canada. Quite a few years ago I drove across Canada from Ottawa to Victoria BC. I also did the eastern provinces on a number of occaisions because I was born in Moncton NB and still have family there.

You are embarking on an incredible trip. Since you are still in the planning stages and I am sure one of your goal is to travel to as many areas of Canada as you one of my trips east I travelled to Bar Harbour Maine and took a ferry over to Yarmouth NS. That will allow you to tour NS and incorporate the Cabot Trail. Travelling along the southern coast of NS will bring you to Peggy's Cove and other fantastic areas of NS. Halifax could be a good stop over place as it has everything you want bars, restaurants, scenery, history etc. As you motor on beyond Halifaxt again along the southern coast you will arrive at the Strait of Canso where you can decide what route you want to toake around the Cabot Trail. Most of people say its better to do it counter clock wise as there is some protection from the views and areas where you will stop and enjoy the cliffs and the ocean ahead of you. what ever route you take you will have the opportunity to visit Alexander Graem Bell museum etc.

At some point you will decide when to head to Sydney NS to take the fery over to Newfoundland. Just so that you know you can take the boat at night and sleep on your trip over.

Once you come back to the main land and exit the Cape Breton island you may want to take the opportunity to follow the highway towards Picto NS so that you can take the Wood Island Ferry over to PEI.

PEI beach heaven, lobster, the girl name Ann who lives in a Gables...LoL. Lots to see and do!!!

Take the 8 kilometer bridge back over to NB and visit Moncton, and take the eastern coastal route up to Campbelton NB and cross into the province of Quebec. You will then head east towards the Gaspe Penisula. Again following coastal roads with great views of the ocean and a real mix of culture/foods/lifestyle. You will want to camp in the national park called Park Forillon. The is a great park with everything you want food/fishing/great roads/people/culture etc. When i toured this area years ago if you get up early enough people were making and selling fresh bread on the side of the road.

As you whip around the Gaspe Coast you will begin to see the northern side of the St Lawrence seaway. You will have 3 opportunities to take ferries that will bring you to the north side of the St Lawrence. On tyhe north side you will have the opportunity to travel on some interesting roads and if you are into viewing the whales in a place called Tadoussac you can hope on a boat and get a chance to see the whales. If you are not in a hurry you have to tour the fyor and the Saquenay Park. Take a bike ride up and around the park. Its fantastic.

Follow the lower road and make sure you take the 362 at Malbaie so that you can maintain the view of the St Lawrence. You will eventually arrive in Quebec city. Th oldest city in North America and one of the most culture and interesting cities to visit. There are plenty of routes in and around Quebec city you should ride on. I will let you do some of your own research.

On to Montreal and then just beyond Montreal you have to decided Toronto or Ottawa???

more to come.....

ITellYa-PB said...

Part 2

I would suppose that you would head towards Ottawa. Since Ottawa is the capitol of Canada you can experience one of greatest cities that we have to offer. Ottawa has culture, green space, and some of the best roads to travel on. Cross over to the Gatineau side of the river while you are here to ride in the Gatineau park. The road winds through forest with a great look out of the valley and the city. A couple of dates to remember July 1st...Canada Day, Bluesfest July 8 to 18th.

On your way west towards North Bay along highway 17. Along the way and even passed North Bay you will ride along some great roads, through great little towns. Sudbury is a good stopping point after Ottawa. There you can visit Ontario North, some of nickle mines in the area. Once you leave Sudbury you can follow along Georgian Bay towards Sault St Marie. Once you arrive in the Sault, you turn north towards Thunder Bay. The ride along Lake Superior will force you to stop many times. The scenery is spectacular, the road is great to ride on. Your next stop should be Thunder Bay.

After Thundr Bay you turn inland and head towards Winnipeg.