The 10 Most Iconic Bike Trails in the World

From rolling hills to Roman ruins, these bike trails are well worth adding to your bucket list.

| August 19, 2013

  • Bike trail
    These trails provide views of spectacular countryside while offering cyclists a means of enjoying their favorite hobby.
    Photo courtesy of London Cyclist

  • Bike trail

Reposted with permission from London Cyclist.

For cycling enthusiasts, there is nothing like riding on the open road and witnessing magnificent sights as you ride across the country. Fortunately, there are many incredible cycling trails around the world that offer scenic wonders as well as a great means of exercise.

You’ll want to be sure that you are fully prepared by being in good physical condition and having the right equipment and accessories, especially if it’s a more challenging ride. Whether you are riding your bicycle around the yard or around the world, having bicycle insurance is a great way to protect your gear. Be sure that you are properly covered before taking your next trip.

Of the many different trails and routes available, there are 10 that top the list when it comes to offering magnificent sights and challenging rides. For vacation seekers who love to ride their bikes, these are the most iconic bicycle rides in the world.

1) The Great Ocean Road, Victoria, Australia
The Great Ocean Road is one of the engineering marvels of this continent. The 243-kilometer stretch of road is windy most of the time, but offers magnificent views of the ocean and marvelous geographic features such as the famed Twelve Apostles, a series of rock columns near the shoreline. If you don’t have the time for the full run, the 60-km stretch between Torquay and Bells Beach can be ridden in a single day.

2) Isle of Wight, England
The famed Isle of Wight offers a great deal of varied terrain — from deep green gullies to rolling hills to trails by the sea. However, the most striking feature is the white chalk cliffs that stretch along most of the island. There are plenty of small towns with hotels, pubs and festivals designed to entice cyclists from around the world to enjoy this fabled island.

3) La Route Verte, Canada
Recently completed, this incredible route runs the length of Quebec province from east to west and features more than 2,485 miles of bicycle trails that have been carefully marked. The ever-changing terrain makes this a paradise of bike riding from the St. Lawrence River to the mountains of the Laurentides.

4) Udaipur City, Rajasthan, India
Ancient forts, beautiful temples and incredible palaces are found in this wonderful city. Riding your bike is the best way to see all of these wonders. The city itself combines Old World scenes of narrow streets, herdsmen tending their goats and camels with an atmosphere of grand wealth and beauty. For those who wish to see one of the most fascinating cities in Asia, a bicycle ride through the streets of Udaipur City is an incredible treat.

5) West Coast, Tasmania, Australia
Tasmania is still mostly undeveloped, and a bike ride along the west coast reveals some of the most stunning countryside in the world. From the wonders of Cradle Mountain, the most famous in Tasmania, to Montezuma Falls, the tallest waterfall, to wondrous lakes and ocean views, riding along the west coast of Tasmania is to take a trip back in time. Yet, there are plenty of modern conveniences along the way to make your trip more comfortable.

6) Underground Railroad Bicycle Route, USA/Canada
One of the longest routes in the world, this particular trail of five different sections adds up to 2,057 miles. You can spend a day or a month or more enjoying the trail, depending on how much of the U.S. and Canada you want to see. Established to honor those who helped slaves to freedom in the days before the Civil War, this route runs from Mobile, Alabama in the south to Owen Sound, Ontario in the north — with plenty of cultural museums along the way.

7) The Karakoram Highway, China/Pakistan
Easily the highest international road in the world, the Karakoram is also one of the most breathtaking in terms of incredible vistas of mountainous countryside. The snow-capped Karakoram Mountains are your constant companion as you traverse this amazing countryside, including the Hunza Valley. There are many villages along the way as well, and some of the glaciers reach the roadway.

8) Mont Ventoux and Luberon, Provence, France
While the hills of Luberon are a challenge for cyclists, the rewards of visiting ancient Roman ruins are certainly well worth the trip. The mixture of sun, pine forests and blue fields of lavender that stretch on for miles is a tremendous sight. The legendary Mont Ventoux, the sight of many great runs during the Tour de France, is the highlight of a trip to this region.

9) Ruta Austral, Chile
South America contributes to the world of cycling by offering a tremendous route from Puerto Montt in the central part of Chile south to the Villa O’Higgins which is located in northern Patagonia. While some of this route is still gravel, there are incredible stretches of wondrous landscapes, forests and the signature enormous ferns that surround the Puyuhuapi Hot Springs near Queulat. There are also a number of ferryboats that you will take along the way as well.

10) The Route of the Hiawatha, Idaho/Montana, USA
This may seem to be a short trail at 24 km, but it encompasses seven trestles and 10 tunnels, including the famed Taft Tunnel. What was once an old railroad is now a paved bike trail through the Bitterroot Mountains. It's somewhat remote, but the scenic vistas are certainly worth the trip. The entire route can be traveled in a single day, but the wonders of the countryside make this one of the best cycling trails in North America.

In addition to the top 10 most iconic bike trails in the world, there are many others which just missed the list, including the famed Muda Biddi Trail in western Australia, the San Juan Islands in Washington, USA, and the trail around the Sun Moon Lake in Taichung, Taiwan. All of these trails provide views of spectacular countryside while offering cyclists a means of enjoying their favorite hobby.

8/12/2016 4:13:23 PM

We rode the Path of the Hiawatha last year (2015). It is not paved, but is hard packed dirt. We did it on a tandem recumbent. It was a very pretty ride. I would not recommend it for a road bike with narrow tires. If you are going to be in northern Idaho, you should also look at Trail of the Couer D Alenes. It is 70 miles long and paved. It is a beautiful ride as well. I agree with the comments below about the definition of a bike trail and with the idea that there are lots of opportunities in the US for us non-globe-trotters.

9/3/2013 1:57:13 PM

I have to agree with Medic 1. MEN should publish a top-ten list of regional domestic bike trails. Following the time zone standard - Pacific, Mountain, Central and Eastern U.S. - would make it easy to segment.

9/1/2013 10:29:02 PM

Definition of "bike trail" can be pretty loose. The Underground Railroad bicycle "trail" is a mix of surfaces, part of it is placid and separate, but part of it on pavement shared with car exhaust and Heavy-Trucks. I wish I had a dollar for every time I found myself directed onto a high-traffic road or street that was somehow defined as "bike trail". Not safe. Not fun. If we restrict the definition to "paved, car-free bike trails", then the list and the distances fall way-y-y down. For those who are interested in long-distance cycling: I'd suggest two: #1 is the C&O / GAP linear trail that links Pittsburgh to DC - 330 miles, with a mix of pavements of gravel, dirt, and asphalt. #2 is my region's Southwest Ohio / Miami Valley Bikeway system, which are continuous, all-asphalt and link multiple cities - roughly 300 miles. These are much shorter than some distances in this article, but provide the safety of separate paths. By my reckoning, these are the two longest dedicated bike paths in the USA for 2013.



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