Climbing is a core part of the soul of cycling. Our sports iconic moments are played out on the slopes of towering mountain passes. Closer to home, there’s few challenges that match the effort, and reward of taking on an ambitious ascent. But where are the best hills to tap into this spirit here in Canada?
Province by province, and up into the Territories, we’ve collected the top local climbs in Canada. Some are freshly paved national park roads, while others are rugged and remote gravel grinds. There are punchy leg burners and alpine lung busters. However you want to challenge yourself, the Great White North has all the climbing you could possibly desire.
The best categorized climbs in Canada: A province-by-province (and Territories) guide
Traverse Canada from east to west, and south to north in search of the country’s most beautiful and challenging ascents.
Where else but Canada’s Maritime provinces can you enjoy a rugged coastal climb looking out at whales, icebergs and the vast Atlantic ocean? With occasionally severe gradients and significant elevation gain, the East Coast’s climbs are scenic and challenging.
La Belle Province holds several of Canada’s most recognized climbs. Race favourites like Mont Mégantic and GP Montreal’s Camillien Houde sit alongside lesser known ascents in the Laurentians and Appalachians. Allez!
What Ontario’s punchy ascents lack in sheer elevation gain they make up for with punishing gradients. You won’t find proper mountains in Ontario, but you will find a challenge.
The sprawling seas of wheat and rows of canola that many associate with our Prairie provinces aren’t known for drastic elevation changes, but they still contain challenging climbs. The grades may be relaxed, but the climbs are long. Add in fierce cross winds, and you’ll quickly find an answer to the question: “It’s only 2 per cent, how hard can it be?”
Starting with rolling foothills and ending with the grandeur of the Rocky Mountains on the border with B.C., there is no shortage of excellent ascending in Alberta. Notably, Highwood Pass is the highest paved road in Canada. A fun fact to ponder as you pedal, though the stunning roadside views will also help take the sting out of Highwood’s steeper pitches.
Canada’s most mountainous province proves you don’t have to travel to Europe for world-class alpine ascents. While some of B.C.’s biggest climbs are hidden in more remote regions, like the 25.3-km, 1405-m grunt up Mt. Revelstoke, you don’t have to travel far for a challenge. Vancouver’s Triple Crown serves up a trio of big mountains – Cypress, Grouse and Seymour – that can be ridden right from downtown.
In contrast to the easily accessible ascents to the south, Canada’s Territories offer up rugged roads for the more adventurous rider. Way ahead of the global gravel trend, some of the less-paved roads in Canada’s North have carried two-wheel explorers to stunning views for decades.