Alternate Route to the Trans Canada Trail (The Great Trail) for Touring Cyclists between Victoria and the Cowichan Valley: Malahat Bypass, 41 km

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 Sooke Hills Wilderness Trail which connects the Trans Canada Trail between Capital Regional District and the Cowichan Valley Regional District.

Although the Sooke Hills Wilderness Trail is open and operational, it can be a challenging route for cylists hauling trailers or carrying panniers - particularly those travelling from north to south. In the past, many TCT users have simply used the Trans Canada Highway from Langford to Shawigan Lake to travel over the Malahat, but this route is quite dangerous and downright unpleasant, as highway traffic whizzes by your shoulder at speeds over 100 km/h.

Instead, for these touring cyclist users, we highly recommend this alternate route to bypass the Malahat; it is our favourite because it is an equally hiking and biking-frendly route. On the southern end it connects to the Galloping Goose nearby the Switch Bridge at the northern end of Victoria. It immediately joins with forested urban trails, such as the Colquitz River Trail, Glendale Trail and the Centennial Rail Trail north to Wallace Drive. A short section of quiet rural road takes users 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. From here, it's almost all roadway connections to the Cowichan Valley Trail, except a shortcut that bypasses a section of the Trans Canada Highway which is quite pleasant.

Shortly after passing the north shore of Shawnigan Lake, the roadway will cross the Cowichan Valley Trail where users can continue their adventure further north along the TCT. Unfortunately, this bypass does miss a great deal of operational Trans Canada Trail along the Galloping Goose and the west shore of Shawnigan Lake, but it is most likely the safest, flattest 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 and is easier to navigate, 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)

Report a Trail Closure


Trail maintenance issues are the responsibility of the Trail Steward, which is either the trail owner or a group given authorization to perform maintenance work. Trails BC is a trail steward for a very limited number of trail segments on the Trans Canada Trail; unfortunately, if a major trail issue occurs along the Trans Canada Trail, there is often very little we can do about it - but we can try to pass on the information to the trail steward, if one exists.

Information such as a precise location (GPS waypoint), photo, as well as your contact information is extremely helpful to ensure the problem is accurately reported.

AGAIN, DO NOT USE THIS FORM TO SUBMIT NOTICES ABOUT TRAILS THAT ARE NOT PART OF THE TRANS CANADA TRAIL. We will simply delete the submission and it will not be posted or passed on to anyone. If you need to report a closure on such a trail, please determine the trail owner or operator and send a notice to them.

Would it be unwise to continue through the closure or blockage? You may add more detail in your report.
Please enter your trail closure report. Include a GPS location or a detailed description of its precise location.
JPG format only, 3 MB max. You must click "upload" after selecting file.
If the blockage/closure can be bypassed, please include your recommended route to do so!