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Cycling Vancouver: Riding to Horseshoe Bay means ups and downs, and beautiful views (PHOTOS)

Make time to venture into the village, too, for a coffee break and photo ops.

This installation of our new series of guides to Metro Vancouver cycling destinations features a challenging ride from Vancouver to West Vancouver's picturesque Horseshoe Bay. This one is for confident riders with good overall fitness - it's a big ride!

Where: Horseshoe Bay

Why: An effortful (but conquerable) ride to beautiful views.

Difficulty: The terrain to and from Horseshoe Bay is rolling; that is, it is a series of up and downs. Technically, the net grade into Horseshoe Bay from West Vancouver is slightly positive (uphill), and the return from Horseshoe Bay to West Vancouver is negative (downhill). This ride is best done on a bike with gears as there are frequent hills, none of which being very long. I would recommend that your general fitness is good because it can be at least a two-hour return to Vancouver. I would also recommend you are comfortable on your bike as you share the road with cars quite frequently. That being said, I have seen an incredible diversity of riders and bikes successfully find their way to Horseshoe Bay from Vancouver.

How to get there: Living in Vancouver, I usually take the Lions Gate Bridge to the North Shore. The road that gets you to Horseshoe Bay is Marine Drive in West Vancouver.  Among my friends, the two most popular ways to access Marine Drive are:

  1. Going through Park Royal Mall and taking Marine Drive straight to Horseshoe Bay, and
  2. Taking the Spirit Trail through Ambleside Park then taking Bellevue then cutting up onto Marine around 25th Street. 

Taking Marine all the way down means you’re sharing the road with cars all the way west from Park Royal, which can be quite nerve-racking.  The alternative can be safer and quieter, albeit slower.

Important notes:

  1. As stated, the entirety of Marine Drive is shared with cars. There are no shoulders to ride on, and often the lane narrows significantly. West of 25th Street in West Vancouver, Marine Drive can be so narrow that cars will have to drive by you in the oncoming lane. Drivers can often be frustrated and angry.
  2. Many fitness cyclists stop at the Horseshoe Bay roundabout and do not enter Horseshoe Bay village. It is your choice whether to venture down into the village, but I recommend you do. There is good food a-plenty, coffee stops and public washrooms. Plus, you can take a picture of your bike with the bay and the ferries in the background.

Brian Lim likes to ride bikes (sometimes with his camera). He's a complete and consummate amateur - both in cycling and in photography, and says he doesn't take himself seriously - and neither should you. Lim wants to share his love of cycling, so please reach out if you want to talk! You'll find him on Instagram at @wheelsandwhisky.