Cycling around the Saanich Peninsula

Cyling around the Saanich Peninsula is like your favourite food – it’s satisfying, it’s equally as enjoyable with a small intimate group or a large gathering of friends, you can modify it to suit everyone in your group, and it is equally as fun when enjoyed rapidly, or at a more leisurely pace.

The Saanich Peninsula loop ride is one of our most popular at North 48 Bicycles because it showcases all of the elements that cycling in southern Vancouver Island has to offer in a three to five hour ride, and can be easily modified en route to accommodate all riding abilities.  It typifies the region’s riding where roads are almost never flat or straight, and although there are no prolonged climbing efforts, the full 100 km loop ride will reward you with 1,000 metres of elevation gain.

North 48 Bicycles Saanich Peninsula tour route map
Ross Bay and Olympic Peninsula

Starting in historic Market Square, the ride goes past the downtown sites (Bastion Square, the Inner Harbour, the Empress, the Legislature), continues along the Waterfront Route with views of the Olympic Peninsula and the Strait of Juan de Fuca, a glimpse of west coast wildlife (if you’re lucky you may spot a pair of nesting bald eagles), crisp, clear views of Mount Baker – and this is all in the first 15 km!!

The route continues to wind its way through some charming neighbourhoods before plunging into the cool northern deciduous rain forest along the flanks of Mount Douglas.  Matticks Farm (32 km) is a great place to take a short break and consider the options – further north up the Peninsula or, if you have underestimated the distance, stop for a coffee before heading back to Victoria.

North 48 Bicycles Guided Road Bike Tour to Matticks Farm
North 48 Bicycles Tour Saanich Farmland

The next 10 km winds through the wonderful farmland, typical of the Saanich Peninsula.   The picturesque town of Sidney arrives after 48 km, and offers another opportunity for refueling and rerouting, if required.   The aptly named Land’s End Road marks the northern end of the Saanich Peninsula, and offers views of Salt Spring Island and Satellite Channel.

Turning back to the south, the route meanders back through Saanich farmlands, and a stop at Deep Cove Market will allow you to experience some of the produce from local farms and orchards.  Of course, there’s nothing like produce direct from the source, and many of the farms have roadside stands – one of our favourites is Anneth Farm on Saanich Road where the proprietors turn daily-picked seasonal fruits and berries into delectable pies and pastries – if your timing is lucky, you might enjoy something still warm from the oven.

Anneth Farm Stand
Observatory Hill and Prospect Lake

Continuing south, the town of Brentwood Bay provides another opportunity to fuel up before the final push back to Victoria.  Wallace Road winds through quiet meadows before joining West Saanich Road, from which, if there is still energy left in the legs, a quick detour up Observatory Hill will add an extra 140 m of climbing, but the reward is an amazing view of the area.  Leaving the Observatory (or ignoring it entirely), the route gradually looses elevation as you make your way to the Galloping Goose Trail to head back into Victoria.  The Goose provides a great opportunity to have a nice, easy spin at the end of a long ride to keep the legs fresh for the next day.