Island Trails bike ride covers P.E.I. from tip to tip

Mary MacKay
Published on May 26, 2014

Island Trails president Bryson Guptill and secretary Susan Norton will be on the trail this summer with the Uncover the Island free 15-week cycling and hiking event that starts Saturday, June 21 and wraps up on Saturday, Sept. 27.

©Guardian photo by Mary MacKay

Island Trails’ Uncover the Island: Bike and Hike Tip to Tip is your passport to health and history this summer.

The 15-week ride and hike experience starts at the windmills in North Cape on Saturday, June 21 and in the following weeks passes through Acadian villages, historic towns and quaint communities and meandered along scenic rivers and secluded woodland trails before wrapping up at the scenic lighthouse at East Point on Saturday, Sept. 27.

“It’s not a race. We’re just going out for a nice bike ride or a nice hike. You just go at your own pace,” says Susan Norton, secretary of Island Trails, which promotes, develops, and maintains a network of trails in the province, including seven Destination hiking trails that were developed by the organization over the past decade.

This 2014 Island Trails event, which is supported by the P.E.I. 2014 Fund, will touch on 67 of the 70 lots that historically comprised P.E.I. 150 years ago.

“This was all about covering those lots in some way where you’re going from one part of the Island to the other. And we wanted to tie that together with something that we never tried as an organization, which was linking the Confederation Trail with our biking and hiking trails that are also located in various parts of the Island,” says Bryson Guptill, president of Island Trails.

“Some of them are quite close to the Confederation Trail and some of them are a little further away. So we plotted a route that includes the Confederation Trail and our hiking trails, which is a total distance of 360 kilometres.”

Instead of doing it all in one fell mutil-day, back-to-back swoop, Island Trails aimed for a more inclusive scenario where riders and hikers of almost any ability could cover the route.

“We thought we’d take it off in little bite size pieces. It’s mostly cycling — there are 11 weeks of cycling — and there is an additional four weeks of hiking,” Guptill says.

“It’s one linear route that goes from one end of the Island to the other. You can do the tip to tip and you can cover most of the Confederation Trail, not just the traditional part of the trail but also the portion that goes to Georgetown that is included in route. And then along the way you’ll get to hike on some of our woodland trails.”

Most of the cycling legs are about 30 kilometres, the longest being a little more than 41 kilometres from Dromore to Bridgetown on week 12.

“The biking portions and the hikes will like take two to two-and-a-half hours, so we’re starting every Saturday at 10 a.m. no matter where we’re located, whether it’s at North Cape, Breadalbane or East Point,” Guptill says.

“The route basically does little bite-size chunks. So the first four weeks it takes you from North Cape to Summerside. Then in the fifth week we cycle along the Confederation Trail to Breadalbane and then we do the the hike in Breadalbane on the sixth week (for example). . . .”

Island Trails’ cyclists will be acting as trail monitors along the way, with one in the lead and another sweeping up the rear.

“There will be designated stops as well. For example, if we’re passing through O’Leary we might take a little side road and stop in to see the Potato Museum, have a little picnic and then continue on,” says Norton.

In some cases local dignitaries will be coming out to meet the Uncover the Island group. Various communities will be hosting welcome gathering or barbecues for riders.

“The day we do the hike in Breadalbane we hike right by The Dunk in Hal Mills backyard. He’s hosting an evening concert (and kitchen party) so people come back for the concert and there are (great Island performers) that are going to be playing there that night,” Guptill says.

“So along the way there will be stops to make it social and enjoyable.”

Every season on the Confederation Trail and Island Trails Woodland trails has its own magic so having the ride and hike event spread over a period of 15 weeks will give participants a changing seasonal view of this natural treasures.

Registration is free and people are encouraged to do so online as soon as possible so the organizers can get a handle on the possible number of participants.

“They can do it all or they can do any one and they can join us for any section. The only thing we’d like to know is that they’re coming out so we can have an idea of how many people are heading out for the day.”

There will also be an Uncover the Island passport that participants can have stamped at the end of their hike or ride.

“They can do some on their own if they want to if they want to catch up,” Guptill says.

“This is starting in 2014 but it can go on for any number of years. The information about route is w as really the challenging part. And once people know how this all connects together then they can do it in subsequent years as well.”