"Biking in Prince Edward Island" Prince Edward Island by BBBinder

Prince Edward Island Travel Guide: 4 reviews and 8 photos

Biking old rail beds

In the late 1980's the island's old railway system was closed for good. Ten years later the Prince Edward Islanders came up with a scheme to turn the old railbed into a multi use trail. What is now called the Confederation Trail is open to snow -mobilers in winter and to non motorized use in the spring, summer and fall. I took advantage of the non motorized, fall season to spend 11 specatcular days biking about 300 kilomters of the more than 350 km of trails. More are planned and this trail is part of the transcanad network of trails.

The Experience

We began our ride at North Cape in the northwestern corner of PEI. The old railbed does not actually start there but it felt right to start the journey at the furthest most tip of the island. North Cape is a narrow peninsula with a light house on it's tip. Surrounded by ocean and a following breeze we set off for the 16 km ride to Tignish where the Confederation Trail officially begins. Kilometer 0. The short ride to Tignish is quite flat as you pass wind generator fields and salt march.

This first leg sets the stage for the entire journey. Since you are riding on rail beds there are no steep climbs and the riding is easy. The trails themselves are meticulously maintained. The surface is of crushed gravel so we used 24 speed hybrid bikes which was often exhilerating. Although we are not serious bikers we were able to sometimes cover 70 km in a few hours.

Logisitics

We decided to play things by ear, day to day. No plans and no reservations. We each had 20 liter panniers and handlebar bags. That allowed us to carry 4 days worth of clothing, camera, binoculars, etc. Most evening, after arriving at that day's destination we would wash out a couple of items in the bathroom sink and by morning they were dry. We did not carry camping gear but opted to stay at inns, B &Bs and guest houses along the way. We also ate most meals out and were served breakfast at the B & Bs. Lunch, obtained at coops and gorcery stores, was usually eaten en route. This allowed us to travel light.

We learned early on that it was risky not having a reservation for lodging. The first weekend (Labor Day) is the end of the tourist season so many lodgings began to close in the first weeks of September. That put a crunch on available space. We were finding that we would get to a town where our travel guidebooks told us there was lodging only to find them full with the few tourists still roaming around. Once we had to ride an extra 30 km to find a place to stay. From that day on we called ahead each morning to where we planned to end up that evening. This worked fine. At this time of year you will also find restaurants closing for the season but there are still enough to get sustainance. (But learn to like fried food if you don't already.) When you call for lodging it's a good idea to make certain that there is a place to eat nearby. And remember too that most hoteliers are not bicyclists and have litte sense of distance and how steep that road is. So when asking for distances and directions be conservative.

We chose to rent out bikes instead of bringing our own. There are two bike shops in Charlottetown, PEI that rent hybrid bikes. We used Smooth Cycle and were very happy with the bikes and service. They also have a shuttle service to various drop off or pick-up points if you don't want to ride round trip.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Friendly and unpopulated
  • Cons:Hotels are expensive, Guest houses are your best bet
  • In a nutshell:Pastoral rolling hills.
  • Last visit to Prince Edward Island: Sep 2005
  • Intro Updated Oct 1, 2005
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