The purpose of this post is to direct first time ferry riders to the most relaxing route from the Swartz Bay Ferry Terminal to downtown Victoria. If you’re looking for the absolute fastest ride into town you could instead head straight in on the highway. However, if you don’t mind adding 20 minutes to the trip to take a much more relaxed and enjoyable route, read on…
There are two ways to exit the ferry terminal. A favourite choice is the “unofficial” route out of the side gate, which is ONLY safe if there are no ferries loading and you can make your way to the East side of the terminal without having to cross traffic.
The “Unofficial” Route For Exiting the Terminal
As soon as you exit the ferry with your bike, safely make your way to the left of the ferries property and follow the fence. Instead of having to jump on the highway on-ramp you’ll instead find a side gate that will allow you to exit peacefully onto the tranquil Lochside Trail route into town.
This side exit gate from the ferries terminal is sensor activated, but I’ve personally been through it and can attest that my aluminum-framed bike will open it up (although I won’t guarantee that your carbon framed wonder will do the same).
Here’s the overhead view of where the Side Exit Gate is – note that is actually no signage directing cyclists to this gate so you’ll have to keep your eyes open:
Here’s what this gate looks like from just outside the gate (courtesy of Google Maps):
The “Official” Route for Exiting The Terminal
Although we’ve been unable to find this information on the BC Ferries website, apparently the recommended way to leave the terminal is to follow the car traffic towards the highway and then turn left on Land’s End Road if you wish to ride to town on the Lochside Trail.
Once you’re on Land’s End Road you’ll need to turn right almost immediately onto Curteis Road, which will then turn into Swartz Bay Road. Swartz Bay Road comes to a dead end, where you’ll find the start of the Lochside Trail.
You can then follow the Lochside Trail into town, which merges with the Galloping Goose Trail for the last little bit of your trip. The Lochside Trail is a bike trail along an abandoned rail line, providing a great 33 km trail taking you safely and comfortably right to downtown Victoria. The route also has a bit of quite comfortable roadway at the start of your ride and between some trail sections. The trail itself is a mix of had packed dirt and paved sections.
The dirt sections are all fairly smooth and I’ve personally found them quite ridable even on a skinny-tired racing bike. All road and bridge crossings can be navigated by bike, although if you’re not feeling confident these crossings are very short and there are sidewalks and/or safe crossings you can walk your bike across.
You can find more information on the Lochside Trail from the official Capital Regional District Website .
You can see inspect the whole route as pictured here through the saved map file on gmap-pedometer.com. Please note: it may take a while for the map to load after you click through, particularly if you’re on a slow connection (but it’s worth the wait!).