Almost 10 years ago, I discovered cycling nirvana on Prince Edward Island. I cycled three miles to a neighborhood bakery. Ten more miles led to a seafood shack with the best fish and chips I had ever tasted. Another 10km and I was biking along a boardwalk right next to a beach where I found an ice cream parlor and joy. Pure joy.
I’ve wanted to go back ever since. If I have learned anything from the pandemic, it is to seize the day. There is no point in putting off the things you really want to do with the people you love. To that end, my husband and I decided to spend a full week cycling (and eating) through Prince Edward Island.
One of the most bike-friendly destinations in North America
Canada’s smallest province is one of the most bike-friendly places in North America. The Confederation Trail stretches 435 km through the center of the island from end to end. Built on an abandoned railway bed, this section of the Trans Canada Trail traverses beautiful scenery that includes quaint towns, rolling farm fields, beautiful ocean views, and many delicious stops for food, including some inside old train stations.
In September 2021, a new trail was added to the mix on Prince Edward Island. The Island Walk is a 700km walk that was inspired by the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route in Europe. The trail circumnavigates the insular province using a combination of existing trails, dirt roads, and public roads. Although it is called Paseo de la Isla, you can also experience this route by bicycle.
Island Walk by Bike is the newest bike route offered at MacQueen’s Bike Shop & Island Tours in Charlottetown. On our recent trip, MacQueen’s organized a unique six-day bike tour of the Midwest that included the Confederation Trail, the Island Walk, and stretches of quiet country roads. The itinerary also included suggestions for activities. and places to eat and drink.
Pick up bikes and drop off luggage
Although we arrived in Charlottetown in pouring rain the night before, the sun was shining on the first day of our bike trip. When you organize a bike trip with MacQueen’s, they take care of everything. All accommodation was booked in advance and daily luggage transfer was also arranged. We dropped off our luggage and picked up the bikes and gear at their family run Charlottetown store. We were also supplied with a pre-programmed Garmin GPS that identified the recommended cycle route each day.
The route took us along the Confederation Trail, Island Walk, and quiet country roads with less traffic. It was a stark contrast to the busy roads that Google Maps would have mapped out for us if we had planned it on our own.
Our itinerary had us averaging about 50km of cycling per day. We had a choice between standard bikes and electric bikes. We went with electric bikes and we have no regrets.
Trip Highlights: Great Views, Lobster Rolls, Ice Cream, and More
We were a little nervous biking through Charlottetown, but once we got to the Confederation Trail it was easy. On our first day, and every day after, we biked both the Confederation Trail and the Island Walk, as well as quiet country roads. We stay in quaint B&B-style accommodations in Victoria by the Sea, Summerside, Kensington, North Rustico, Dalvay by the Sea and Charlottetown.
Biking is slow travel at its finest and we made many stops along the way at historical sites, antique shops, farms, bakeries, ice cream stands, lighthouses, and churches built in the 19th century.
We even stopped to take a selfie with the world’s largest manual egg beater – random, but fun. We also explore beautiful beaches and other sites in Cabot Beach Provincial Park and Prince Edward Island National Park.
The Boardwalk Inn in Summerside was our second B&B and our favorite lodging of the trip. Each guest of the B & B is given a small teddy bear that he is invited to take with him for the rest of his trip. For the rest of the trip, “Ed the bear” rode on the back of my bike.
In the evenings, we explore local sites, take long walks along beautiful beaches, and enjoy live music or live theater as often as possible. We attended a performance by an Abba tribute band at the Harbourfront Theater in Summerside and attended the premiere of Tell Tale Harbour, a musical comedy co-written and starring musician/actor Alan Doyle at the Confederation Center for the Arts in Charlottetown.
Having previously walked the Camino de Santiago, we were eager to experience the new Island Walk that has sometimes been called the Canadian Way. While we didn’t see all of the new trail, the sections we explored were lovely tree-lined red clay trails that bore a striking resemblance to the European Trail.
Best of all, we met friendly people and enjoyed dining at wonderful restaurants in the quaint seaside communities we visited.
Whether it’s the amazing lobster roll at Lobster Barn Pub and Eatery in Victoria by the Sea, dining at pubs inside the old train stations in Summerside and Kensington, or simply enjoying a delicious ice cream at Cows Creamery, there was no shortage of delicious food. that it was worth cycling 50 km.
Even without the amazing food, the lovely people and amazing scenery made the trip worthwhile.
Debbie Olsen is an award-winning Métis writer and national bestselling author. Follow her at www.wanderwoman.ca.