Biking PEI: Charlottetown to Mt. Stewart
On my PEI vacation, I did a bit of light bike touring. On a quiet Sunday, I rode from Winsloe to Mt. Stewart using the Confederation Trail and the road on the return trip as described in the “Head of Hillsborough” loop.
Using the Confederation Trail, it was exactly 30km from our house to Mt. Stewart and the ride took just under 2 hours (including multiple photo stops). I started off early on Sunday morning and enjoyed the dappled sun shining through the trees. With the path being flat and sheltered from the wind, it was a super easy ride and I tooted along at a good speed.
The unpaved surface is hard with fine pebble, so it’s really easy to ride.
It’s worth noting that PEI has mandatory helmet laws for everyone – even on the flat, segregated Confederation Trail. Really. Here’s something that’s not required on your bike. A bell! How can something be such a boon to one’s “safety” in Ottawa and not required at all in another province? Curious.
I mastered the zig-zag gates at each road crossing.
Someone added a nice sign along the route. You don’t know HOW MANY mosquito bites I got taking this photo. TOO MANY. I hope you enjoy it.
The rest stops are pleasant…and this one near Mt. Stewart is conveniently located near a gas station / donut shop. (But hold off on the snacks until you get to Mt. Stewart.)
You’ll pass through a salt water marsh leading to Mt. Stewart. It is also PRIME mosquito habitat. You’re going to want to pepper your body with copious amounts of DEET. I didn’t put it on my face and the little buggers landed three big bites on my cheeks and forehead. Itchy and not very pleasant looking.
Here’s the view arriving in Mt. Stewart on the trail. Made it! The trail leads you straight into the middle of the village.
I even made it to my destination a half an hour early! Every Sunday there is a live music and brunch at the Trailside Cafe. Great food and bottomless coffee. Did you hear that? COFFEEEEEEE! The cafe (and inn) is located in Mt. Stewart where the trail meets the road. (Obviously) Don’t bother looking for a bike rack, just tuck your bike around the side of the building.
The Sunday brunch is delicious. I opted for the traditional breakfast with baked beans, sausages, eggs and home fries. The baked beans had chickpeas in them! WHOA. Slow down, PEI. Brunch with a side of live music? It was just right. Although, I was starting to feel a bit guilty on my third cup of coffee. I don’t think that’s the “island way”.
Because I had become a rolling mosquito buffet using the trail, I decided to “road ride” back to Charlottetown to avoid more mosquito carnage. I followed Route 21 (Fort Augustus Road) all the way back to Charlottetown. It is MUCH hillier, MUCH windier and much more beer canny.
Seriously, I must have counted AT LEAST 20 beer cans on the side of the road. Not seen in the tourist brochures. It didn’t give me a lot of warm fuzzies. I regretted not returning on the trail.
I thought it would be a bit more scenic since it follows the Hillsborough River, but it’s mostly rolling hills, fields and houses. And wind. Oh, the wind.
And a giant strawberry.
I knew once I hit the bridge back to Charlottetown, I’d be down to the last 10km. Phew. Ok, bridge, I can do this. There’s a good shoulder over the bridge, so it wasn’t really a problem. Certainly better than most bridges in Ottawa.
Arriving in Charlottetown, I spotted the market building. Parched and in NEED of ice cream, I did a U-turn at the roundabout to get around to the market side of the road. Only to find out they DON’T SELL ICE CREAM. Oh, the humanity. They did have artisnal lemonade from France. NO. NO. NO! I pedaled home.
I followed the Mount Edward Road back to the Confederation Trail – it’s one of the few bike lanes in Charlottetown. Although the width varies along the way (and disappears!! just before the airport), it was better than nothing.
Here’s where the segregated “active living trail” starts just before the airport. Luxurious. I hopped off this pathway and continued home along the last 3km on the Confederation Trail.
All in all. 73km. Using the road to return actually added about 10km to the trip. While it isn’t the longest ride I’ve ever done, it certainly wore me out. Unless you love hills and headwinds, I’d recommend sticking to the trail. And buying an extra bottle of mosquito repellent!