Cycling from Vancouver to New Westminster
The days are warm and the evenings are long, and the season offers all sorts of opportunities to shake off the dust of winter. For many people, spring and summer in BC mean one thing: adventure. Mountaintop hikes, kayaking trips, bike camping, you name it. While there’s no shortage of activities in the region, there are not always enough days in a week for multi-day trips to far-flung locales.
Conveniently for those of us who spend much of our summer in the city, Metro Vancouver offers a variety of great day trips — mini-adventures if you will — that combine two of the greatest aspects of summer in the city: urban bike exploration and patio season. From where I live in East Vancouver, there are a number of safe, reasonably beginner-friendly rides that — although not specifically designed to bring you to breweries — happen to do that job quite well.
Recently, my friend Meaghan and I put some air in our tires, packed sunscreen and water bottles, and headed east toward New Westminster along the BC Parkway. This mostly flat, 25-kilometre cycling route runs from East Vancouver through Burnaby to New West. Leaving from Trout Lake, you encounter a short but steep climb to get up to Nanaimo Station, and then it’s fairly flat from there on out.
The route largely parallels the Skytrain, allowing you to explore the parks and neighbourhoods of each city on a comfortable combination of off-street bike paths and traffic-calmed side streets.
Our first brewery stop of the day was Studio Brewing, which is conveniently located on the bike path just past Metrotown. Arriving at a brewery at 1 pm on a Tuesday isn’t exactly the best time to get a sense of the vibe, but we were pleasantly surprised to see another couple roll up on bikes just as we did.
Studio had nine beers on the tap list: among them a dark lager with notes of cherry, an espresso and cacao-focused American Stout, and some spring-forward offerings like a lemony New World Saison and an IPA with mango and passion fruit notes.
From Studio Brewing, we carried on along the Parkway to New West. The route passes through Byrne Creek Ravine Park, where you get to enjoy a beautiful — but brief — ride through an urban forest park before the path leads you onto a very loud and exciting overpass over the industrial traffic of Stewardson Way.
After about 20 minutes, you’ll end up at Steel & Oak Brewing. Tucked away next to an overpass near the Fraser River, Steel & Oak was surprisingly busy for a Tuesday afternoon with a few tables full on their patio and a few people seated at the long indoor bar.
On tap were some of the brewery’s flagships like Royal City Ale and Shiny Things Hazy IPA, along with some easy-drinking, summer limited editions, including a Light Lime Pilsner and a Yuzu Guava Pale Ale.
Steel & Oak also has a snack menu with plenty of offerings for hungry bike travellers. We got the calzone from Emilio Finatti Pizzeria and two Jamaican patties from Elbo Patties.
From Steel & Oak, you have a few options. If you want to call it a day you can return home on the same path or take the Skytrain home from Columbia Station. Or you can carry on through New West, along the waterfront, until the BC Parkway meets up with the Central Valley Greenway, a separate linked bike path that will bring you north towards Coquitlam and eventually back to Vancouver.
We chose a bit of a hybrid and decided to carry on along the Central Valley Greenway as far as Sapperton so we could check out Another Beer Co.
We did, however, get a bit lost.
There is significant construction underway by the waterfront in New West, and while intuition was telling us to take Columbia Street, Google was telling us to take a bike path along the waterfront.
Trust your intuition, folks.
Unfortunately, the bike path that Google recommended did not exist due to the construction, and in order to avoid backtracking, we ended up hiking our bikes up a set of stairs to get to Columbia Street
Unless it’s a leg day for you, I give this route 1/10. I do not recommend it.
But once we found our way back on the Central Valley Greenway, it was smooth sailing onto the Brunette-Fraser Regional Greenway, an oddly idyllic little path through the industrial section of Sapperton.
It was just a few short blocks from the welcoming patio of Another Beer Co, where they were serving up everything from Kolsch to Coconut Imperial Stout to a German Sour.
From here, again you have options. For a longer ride, you can carry on along the Central Valley Greenway, stop at Dageraad Brewing, pass Burnaby Lake, and eventually ride back into Vancouver through Brentwood Town Centre.
The day felt full enough, so we chose to backtrack slightly to take the Skytrain home from Sapperton.
If you like bikes and you like beers, this is only one of a few great rides around Metro Vancouver to check out this season. Here are a few more:
Gravel or Road from Vancouver to Port Moody
Road: The Adanac bike route turns into Frances Street. You follow that basically until you hit Burnaby Mountain, then take the Barnett Highway, which has a wide shoulder, all the way into Port Moody.
I did this route with my mom a few years ago. She was 70 years old then, hadn’t ridden a bike in years, and said she felt safe the whole way. Save for one steep climb on Adanac just east of Boundary Road, she said the effort level was totally manageable.
Gravel: There’s also the gravel route, which basically follows Barnett Highway but in the woods. Upside: no cars. Downside: way harder! It’s essentially steep climbs and descents the whole way. I did this ride as well with a few friends and I was totally tuckered out.
Once you get to Port Moody, you have “Brewer’s Row” all on one strip:
You can then either ride back or (pro tip) Skytrain home from Moody Centre.
North Van Two Bridges Loop
If you ride over the Lion’s Gate Bridge, you can hit the North Shore Spirit Trail bike route, which basically hugs the water the whole way across North Van and is generally very flat. With the exception of the last section by Wildeye Brewing, which feels a little uncomfy, it’s also really safe and pleasant to ride.
Breweries you can hit on Vancouver’s North Shore Ale Trail:
- Black Kettle Brewing
- La Cervecería Astilleros
- Streetcar Brewing
- North Point Brewing
- Shaketown Brewing
- Beere Brewing
- House of Funk Brewing
- Braggot Brewing
- Wildeye Brewing
You could also pop up to Bridge Brewing if that somehow wasn’t enough.
Then ride back into the city over the Ironworkers Bridge.
PoCo’s Traboulay Trail
I can’t speak from experience on this one, but rumour has it that the 25km Traboulay Trail in Port Coquitlam passes many of the city’s breweries including:
Drink lots of water, have fun, and stay safe!
ALWAYS DRINK RESPONSIBLY
No one should drink alcohol, even in moderation, before operating a bike or motor vehicle or engaging in other activities that involve attention and skill or physical risk.