Biking Tour: Dallas Road
Start & Finish: Cycle BC Bike Rental, 685 Humboldt St.
Time: 2 hours, not including picnic stops, sightseeing, shopping, or food breaks.
Best Times: Clear, sunny days when the Olympic Mountains are revealed in all their glory.
Worst Times: Gray, rainy days.
Victoria cries out to be biked. The hills are modest, the traffic light and very polite, and the views incredible. When touring around by bike, you rarely have time to stop and pull out a point-by-point guide, so the descriptions offered here are shorter than for walking tours. The route is designed to take you a bit beyond what would be possible on foot, without getting into an expedition-length tour.
This tour is about 15km (9 1/4 miles) long and stays on bike paths through much of its length, although some of the streets in the second half of the tour are lightly trafficked. The ride from the Dallas Road shoreline to Craigdarroch Castle involves an elevation gain of about 150m (492 ft.).
Start at Cycle BC Bike Rental (685 Humboldt St.; tel. 250/380-2453; www.cyclebc.ca), on the corner of Douglas Street, then head down to Thunderbird Park: Have a look at the totem poles. From there, continue east along Belleville Street past the Legislature and the Coho ferry terminal; then go round the corner onto Kingston Street and left through the small park to Fisherman's Wharf. From here, continue south along Dallas Road, past the heli-jet pad and the cruise ship terminal, and stop at the entrance to the breakwater at Ogden Point. By this time, if the sky's clear, you should have a fabulous view of the Olympic Mountains. Park your bike and wander out along the breakwater, or stop in at the Ogden Point Cafe (199 Dallas Rd.) for the same view without the wind.
Continue east along the seaside bike path or on Dallas Road. Stop here and there as the mood strikes for some beachcombing. A little ways on, past Douglas Street, cross Dallas Road and cut north into Beacon Hill Park. Stop at the petting zoo, look at the 38m (125-ft.) totem pole, or just enjoy Victoria's favorite park. Exit the park by the northeast corner on Cook Street and cycle a few blocks north into Cook Street Village. This is a good spot to stop for a coffee and dessert, or to shop for picnic supplies at the local deli or supermarket. Head back south on Cook Street to Dallas Road; turn left and continue east a kilometer or so to Clover Point, a short peninsula sticking out into the Strait of Juan de Fuca. It makes a fine picnic spot. From here, head east to Ross Bay Cemetery, Victoria's second oldest, where many local notables are buried, including former governor James Douglas and painter Emily Carr. From the north side of the cemetery, ride up the hill on Stannard Street, skirting the eastern edge of Government House, the official residence of the lieutenant governor.
When you reach Rockland Avenue, turn right and ride a few hundred meters past the many fine homes of this elite enclave to the main entrance to Government House. Though the residence itself is closed to the public, the formal gardens are open and well worth a wander. Round back, the hillside of Garry oaks is one of the last places to see what the area's natural fauna looked like before European settlers arrived. The rose garden in front is sumptuous. Just west of the gate on Rockland Avenue, turn right onto Joan Crescent and ride up the small hill to opulent Craigdarroch Castle, built by coal magnate Robert Dunsmuir for his wife, Joan. The castle is open for self-guided tours. From here, continue up Joan Crescent to Fort Street; turn right and go a very short way east to Yates Street; turn left and go 1 block to Fernwood Street; turn right and go 1 block north to Pandora Street; then turn left again and ride west down the hill. Watch for the Christian Science church at 1205 Pandora St. (where the street widens to include a boulevard in its center). Another 6 blocks west, and you're at Pandora and Government streets, with Chinatown to your right, Market Square to your left, and the Fairmont Empress and the bike-rental spot just a few blocks south.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.