Going out for a day trip on your bike is one of the best ways to enjoy Nova Scotia’s one-of-a-kind landscape with your friends and family. But finding your perfect route can also be quite overwhelming. Knowing where to begin can take all sorts of different paths and I can certainly sympathize with not knowing the best way to access the depth of trails across Nova Scotia. Thankfully, there exists a great set of tools that I have found useful in navigating our province’s amazing current and increasing trail system. Whether you’re looking for an afternoon picnic ride, a full-day adventure, or even a quick commute, here are some ideas on how to find the route that’s best for you.


Picking Your Route

Locating popular daily rides
Strava Heatmap is a great way to find rides and gather ideas for commuting and exercise routes that are popular amongst the cycling community. This app can either be used on your mobile device or your laptop where you can get a quick visual representation of heavily traveled cycling routes all around Nova Scotia. The brighter the line, the heavier it’s traveled! You can also join this platform for free to track your distance and pace, record your rides, and even connect with other riders in your area by sharing routes and seeing their travels. This app is best for planning commuting or exercise routes as you can see actual rider-used roads and trails. Once you find that perfect route, you can take it to your phone for live directions during your ride. Follow the link here to get a look at the heat map and the well-traveled rides in your area.


Commuting within Halifax

If you’re in the Halifax Regional Municipality, another great way to plan your next commute is through the HRM Bike Map. Although this site isn’t as mobile friendly as Strava Heatmap, it provides a great view of the current cycling infrastructure as well as suggested roads to travel that is easy to decipher through nicely colour coded layout. If you have the time at home and are wondering how to best navigate around the HRM, this map is really helpful in gaining a better sense as to how the seemingly confusing cycling infrastructure is best used. 


Planning your next multi-day trip

If you’re looking to find routes for an upcoming trip, the travel pamphlets from our Cycle Nova Scotia site provide excellent outlines of trails around the province that cover the entire riding experience. These maps include food and winery options, coastal routes, woodland trails, and great advice for navigating the mighty Cabot Trail. If you follow each individual pamphlet, they display a full screen map of each area. Additionally, you can download each map and their route notes to your phone and link them to Ride with GPS for guidance on the go. This planning option is wonderful if you have some time before your trip where you can fully map out not only your cycling routes, but your various stops, destinations, and even bike shops for any repair needs. If you’re looking for more specifics on each route, the Where to Cycle in Nova Scotia Handbook will be your best friend.


I have personally found that the Where to Cycle in Nova Scotia Handbook is a great tangible option to easily navigate the multitude of routes across the province. With its convenient organization of all the tried and true routes within each region of Nova Scotia, you can visualize the various options available specifically catering to your location. Additionally, you can read detailed route descriptions of each individual ride with the notable road features, detour options, best landmarks and precautionary measures. The distance, duration, grade, elevation and surface type are all clearly marked at the start of each description. This makes it really easy to find a ride that matches your ability level or time-frame to best fit within our busy lives. On the Bicycle Nova Scotia website, each route included in the handbook is included with an accompanying GPS version that even shows you the hills and where you will encounter them. 


Your next destination ride

If you’re planning a big ride on the Blue Route along one of the destination trails in Nova Scotia such as the Celtic Shores Trail, the Harvest Moon Trailway, or the Rum Runners Trail, head over to the Destination Trails website. This site is great if you have some time to plan at home as it outlines each of the many sections within these broad reaching, multi-day routes. I definitely suggest doing some research on these before tackling them to get the most out of your cycling experience. Here you can find places to stay, food and drink options, cultural sites, and notable outdoor features. 


Essential Riding Safety Tips

Something to keep in mind whenever you’re planning a long ride that’s off the beaten path, or even one that you’ve been on time and time again. Some trails will have sections that are far from cell service, so it’s always a good idea to download any route you’re planning on your mobile device to make sure you stay on the right track. The handbook will always outline rides that are known for rough service, but it always pays to prioritize your safety. On that note, bringing first aid and basic bike repair kits is the best way to ensure that you’re prepared for any curveballs that may be thrown your way on your cycling adventures. If you need ideas on what to include in your kit or basic how-tos for common repairs, follow the link here


How to plan your coffee/beverage breaks

One of the best parts of a long bike ride is stopping off to grab a delicious cup of coffee with your friends. If you’re riding in an area that you’re unfamiliar with, or are looking for ways to better plan your next stop, Bike Friendly NS is a wonderful resource. The map conveniently displays all the local Bike Friendly NS  registered cafes, restaurants and breweries where you can stop and enjoy the local flavor. Each registered business has designated bike parking on site or close by so you don’t have to worry about finding a safe spot to store your trusty steed. Additionally, the staff inside are knowledgeable about cycling routes in the area. If you are looking for advice on more cycling options, have any problems with your bike, or just want to chat about cycling nearby, the staff will be happy to lend a hand. Even if you are familiar with the area and just want a better idea on how to support local businesses that support the cycling community, using this map on your next ride will help to make it that much sweeter. 


You can even use the Bike Friendly NS map on those longer multi-day trips where you want a diverse range of riding amenities. This map outlines campgrounds, attractions, hospitals, bike service shops, beaches, picnic spots, and accommodations to take your next cycling trip to the next level. 



Calvin Cameron

I am a fourth year Environmental Science student at Dalhousie University. My passions are surfing, skiing, skateboarding and of course, cycling! It was been my pleasure to work for BNS this fall writing blog postings in efforts to outline Nova Scotia’s amazing trail infrastructure. I hope that this work will make it that much easier for cyclists of all backgrounds and abilities to find the route that gets them out and enjoying this beautiful province.


Looking for more Nova Scotia cycling tips?

If you want to find more information on these rides and so much more, check out our Where to Cycle in Nova Scotia Guidebook https://bicycle.ns.ca/where-to-cycle-ns/ 

Follow Bicycle Nova Scotia on social media for the latest cycling news, information, and tips.