The Portable Family: Prince Edward Island tour

Red dirt rambling across a storybook island.

The centerpiece of our late summer trip to Canada was a fantastic week-long bike tour of Prince Edward Island. With miles of quiet dirt roads and the extensive Confederation Trail system, PEI is ideal for touring. Throw in sandy beaches, Anne of Green Gables, lots of ice cream, and you have the perfect family cycling adventure.

Confederation Trail bike path

Our plan was to ride a circuit of the north central portion of the island, following the Confederation Trail east then looping back west along the northern shore via rural roads and trails.

The trail is a converted railroad bed that affords easy travel on a flat cinder surface. It passes through small towns every few hours, but there are some long stretches without anything but fields and sky.

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We happened to be in Charlottetown for the Canadian 150th Anniversary celebration. It was a fun contrast to the open countryside, and of course, more ice cream!

From the city we headed northwest toward the Cavendish area, home to the island’s premier tourist destination: Green Gables. We’d been reading the books in anticipation of the trip, so it was a mandatory stop. The beaches were certainly a bonus.

The final portion of our route was all along the iconic red dirt roads of PEI. Unlike the bike trail, these rural farm roads rise and fall steeply over the central hills of the island. It was strenuous but rewarding.

Our first family bike tour outside the US, we’d recommend it to anyone.

A few tips:

  • Wide tires roll easier and more comfortably over the varied surfaces encountered on the island. Fenders keep the red dirt and mud off you and your gear even when it’s dry.
  • The Confederation Trail is relatively flat, but if you plan to venture off of it (recommended!), make sure your bike has low gears for loaded hill climbing.
  • Unless you have an international phone plan, you won’t be able to rely on your smartphone for directions. Be prepared to resort to good old fashion paper maps.
  • Carry cash for the many farm stands around the island.
  • Pack rain gear and swimsuits!
  • Maps of the island and the Confederation Trail are readily available at information centers on PEI. You can plan your trip beforehand by visiting the PEI tourism website.

Have more questions or care to chat about this trip or others? Stop by the shop and we’ll be happy to talk touring.