Best Gravel Bike Routes Near Vancouver, BC

with MAHSHID HADI, Liv Ambassador Canada

In November 2018, I landed in Toronto, Canada as a refugee from Iran. After a few days of settling in, I bundled up for a cold morning walk to explore my neighborhood. Deep in thought about my future here in this new country, I was formulating plans for getting into the film industry when a strong wind pushed me back. I buried my chin by my collar and held onto a “No Parking” sign; it felt like a scene from the movie “Gone with the Wind”. At that moment, I considered moving out to the West Coast - where the winter seasons are less harsh. While researching Vancouver, I discovered the vast bike scene and the possibility of beautiful gravel adventures in the area - I flew to Vancouver a week later.

Mahshid riding along the water.

The City of Vancouver can be loud and crowded, but it is renowned for its natural beauty, where mountains meet the ocean. A rugged landscape that takes you through an incredible experience of connecting to mother nature. When I escape into the forests, I try to connect with all the species around me; riding past old-growth trees that speak hundred-year-old tales, I smell the fresh cedar, native berries, and ferns that line the paths to glacier-fed lakes. Snow-capped mountains in the distance and glimpses of wildlife along the routes, and lastly, the friendly riders who exchange their knowledge and stories with you along the way.

Mahshid climbing up a road hill.

How to find local groups:

As a newcomer, sometimes transitioning and breaking into a new scene can be challenging; Vancouver provides many friendly cycling communities around the city that welcome new riders. Here are a few ways to find local groups:

  • Meetup  - A free platform to find public groups and rides.
  • Hub Cycling - Not-for-profit organization that has spent over 20 years removing barriers to cycling in Metro Vancouver.
  • Liv Cycling Events - Canadian events page, held by local Ambassadors
  • Our Community Bikes and Kickstand - Volunteer-led programs to learn how to fix your bike and connect to other riders.

(Looking for gravel rides outside of Vancouver? Check out our How to Find Gravel Rides Near You article.)

Gravel Routes Near Vancouver, BC:

Squamish Route

Skill Level: Intermediate
Length: 24.7 miles
Elevation 1894 ft

The Squamish Route is a popular gravel bike ride located in Squamish, British Columbia, Canada. The ride typically begins in the town of Squamish, nestled between the coastal mountains and the Pacific Ocean.

The route takes riders on a mostly gravel trail with a mix of 6.5 miles paved roads, providing a diverse riding experience. Gravel sections could be still busy as mountain bikers are on their way to their adventure. There are some gentle rolling hills and a few challenging climbs. The Squamish Route also passes by several notable landmarks, including Shannon Falls, one of the tallest waterfalls in British Columbia.

There are multi campsites close to this route and if you decide to extend your ride to Garibaldi or Elfin lake.  It’s a must to take bear spray in this route as it’s not uncommon to encounter wildlife along the trail.

View Trail

Burnaby Mtn Loop Cougar Bandit

Skill Level: Intermediate
Length: 15.6 mi
Elevation: 1,846 ft

This offers a challenging yet rewarding experience for gravel cyclists. The ride begins at the base of Burnaby Mountain, where riders can park their vehicles or start from a designated trailhead. The route primarily consists of gravel roads and trails, providing a mix of smooth sections and technical challenges.

Once you reach the top of the mountain, the trail descends, offering a thrilling and fast-paced ride. Keep in mind that some sections may be more technical, with loose gravel and tight turns, so it's important to maintain control and ride within your comfort zone.

The Cougar Bandit portion of the ride is known for its winding paths and challenging terrain. It adds an extra element of excitement and adventure to the overall ride.

View Trail

Cougar Mountain Gravel Ride

Skill Level: Advanced
Elevation:  +2,785ft- 9.6%↗   -2,780ft -19.2%↘

View Trail

Vedder to Chilliwack Lake

Skill Level: Intermediate
Length: 53.2 mi
Elevation: +3,193 ft -8.6%↗    -3,187 ft  -8.3%↘

View Trail