Alternate Route: Malahat Bypass

Map Legend & Disclaimer

Note that you can click on each object on the map to obtain details about it.

Trans Canada Trail Legend:

Trans Canada Trail Pavilion
Multi-Use Route (Cycling & Walking)
Hiking Only Route (No Cycling)
Equestrian Route (May Allow Cyclists/Walkers)
Paddling/Water Route
Temporary Bypass or Unofficial TCT Route
Trans Canada Trail Closed
Obstacle or Warning (click it for details)

Alternate Route Legend:

Alternate Route for Cyclists & Walkers
Alternate Route for Hiking
Alternate Route for Equestrians
Connection Point to the Trans Canada Trail

Google Maps Legend:

Map menu to access highlights, campsites, grocery stores, parking areas, toilets and more!
Click the grey star at the top of the map to favourite it in Google Maps, so you can pull it up later in your Google Maps app's "My Places".

Disclaimer: This trail information is subject to changes. While reasonable effort has been made to ensure that the information on this site is correct, Trails BC makes no warranty about the accuracy of this information and accepts no liability for any inconvenience or any direct or consequential loss arising from reliance upon this information. Be sure to check our Latest Trail Closures before heading out and read our full disclaimer!.

Please contact Trails BC if you require in-depth trail knowledge or have suggestions or corrections. Support us by becoming a member or donating funds!

GPS Downloads

  • KML/KMZ files can be opened in Google Earth, and many smartphone apps.
  • GPX files can be opened by most GPS software apps when KMZ cannot. Note, GPX files do not contain custom colours and icons that we use on our maps; all tracks and icons will appear the same colour and styles. We recommend using KMZ instead of GPX if possible.

The files below include data for only this specific area. For all of our Trans Canada Trail data for the entire province (including features, campsites and alternate routes), download our BC.kmz master file (1.2 MB)

Visit our GPS & Navigation page for instructions of how to use your smartphone as a GPS device (even when outside of data coverage) or how to import data to your Garmin unit.

About the Route: 

This route is an ideal route to bypass the dreaded Malahat Highway as a way of travelling between the operational stretches of Trans Canada Trail in Victoria and the Cowichan Valley. From now until 2017, the Trans Canada Trail route over the Malahat is still in development. Traditionally, most TCT users have simply used the Trans Canada Highway from Langford to Shawigan Lake, but this route is quite dangerous and simply unpleasant, as highway traffic whizzes by your shoulder at speeds over 100 km/h.

Instead, we highly recommend an alternate route to bypass the Malahat. Our favourite is an equally hiking and biking-frendly route north along the Colquitz River Trail, Glendale Trail and the Centennial Rail Trail north to Brentwood Bay. 

From Brentwood Bay, a ferry (approx $8 per passenger + $2 per bicycle) can take travellers to Mill Bay, located north of the Malahat, an infamous gap in the Trans Canada Trail on Vancouver Island. Travelling on roads to Shawnigan Lake will connect you with the Cowichan Valley Trail to continue your adventure further north along the TCT. Unfortunately, this bypass does miss a great deal of operational Trans Canada Trail along the Galloping Goose, but one of the safest and most effective ways of bypassing the Malahat.

An alternative to this route is to follow the Lochside Trail north to Island View Road. East Saanich Road and Stelly's Cross Road will provide the connection to the Brentwood Bay ferry. This route uses slightly less distance on roadways, but does involve climbing over the "hump": of the Saanich Peninsula as well as a stretch of road that is less bike friendly between the trail and Brentwood Bay. A third bypass method is travelling to Salt Spring Island (via Swartz Bay) to Crofton, but this bypasses the entire Cowichan Valley.

Connection Points to the TCT: 

In the south, this route connects to the Galloping Goose Trail just a short distance west of the "switch bridge" (where the Goose crosses the Trans Canada Highway). A paved connector trail descends from the Goose trail immediately east of the overpass (where it crosses over Interurban and the Colquitz River). The route begins by following the Colquitz River trail, which is located beside Interurban Road.

In the north, this route connects to the Cowichan Valley Trail south of the Kinsol Trestle at Renfrew Road (a road crossing a short distance south of the southern Kinsol Trestle parking lot). Southbound travellers on the Cowichan Valley Trail should not continue south towards Shawnigan Lake; take Renfrew Road east towards the Mill Bay ferry instead.

Trail Operator: 

Visit the BC Ferries Brentwood Bay - Mill Bay page for the ferry schedule. Current fares may be available here. Local tip: You can save $3 per passenger when you pre-pay for your ticket. Locations to pre-pay are kept secret by BC Ferries unless you ask (in other words, not listed on their website), but rumour has it you can purchase tickets at either the Thrifty's grocery stores in Mill Bay or in Saanichton or Sidney - but not necessarily any other Thrifty's locations. It's really quite unclear. Call BC Ferries for more on that. This route does not accept Experience cards.

Shopping & Provisions

The Red Barn market is located at the northern end of the rail trail, just south of Wallace Drive and is an ideal place to stock up on lunch items and drinks. A pleasant picnic area is located behind the market.

Printable Maps & Directions (PDF)