With winding roads that take you through a diverse landscape of vast mountains, lakes and rivers, BC is home to some of the most scenic routes in the world and those who love to ride the open road. CapriCMW has a number of passionate motorcyclists across our offices in the Lower Mainland and the Interior. In this series, they’ll be sharing the stories of their favourite overnight trips and their tips for those of you who want to try them yourself.
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The first comes from Ted Murray, one of our construction and bonding specialists in the Burnaby office. For Ted, it’s hard to beat the Lillooet Loop.
The summer temperatures in Lytton and Lillooet can be extreme (up to the high 30’s in Celsius) so wear your mesh gear and bring lots of water.
I prefer to take the counter-clockwise ride from the Vancouver area up the Fraser Canyon via Highway 1, peel off at Lytton and then take Highway 12 to Lillooet. The next day, I head down Highway 99 past Duffy Lake and back via Whistler and Squamish.
You can avoid the freeway to Hope by taking Highway 7 and heading north at Agassiz. There’s no avoiding some of the long boring straight stretches on either route to get to the Fraser Canyon, but it’s the price you pay for the great twisties and sweepers that lie ahead.
As you head up the canyon, watch for Alexandria bridge just past Spuzzum which brings the road to the east side of the Fraser River. After one or two kilometres on your left, there is a parking lot and trail that leads to the old Alexandria bridge built back in the 1930s to service the original road that is long gone. It is an interesting bit of history and amazingly well preserved. If you’re peckish, stop for lunch at the Old Towne Inne as you enter Boston Bar. You may also want to fuel up here.
As you approach Lytton, watch for the Highway 12 signs and take the road that goes off Highway 1 and heads down the hill through the town and over the bridge spanning the Thompson River. Notice the colour difference of two waters as it flows into the muddy Fraser.
This section of road is lightly used and winds its way along the Fraser with great curves and some challenging technical sections (read hairpins) if you are on a sport bike. There are also some nice long straight bits in case you need to overtake the one other vehicle you may encounter. A word of caution: although I’ve never seen any police presence in my 40 years of driving on this lonely road, your trip could be the exception so resist the temptation to ‘open’er up to see what she’ll do.’
Watch for the slide section about two-thirds of the way to Lillooet on Highway 12. It is narrow and prone to falling rock on a short section. The edge drops down to the river several hundred feet below. Don’t stop to take any photos of the beautiful vista!
Book overnight accommodations at one of the motels in the sleepy little town – I like the 4 Pines Motel – and stop in at the Legion for a couple of cold beers. Head across the street to Dina’s Place for some Greek fare for dinner.
The next day, get an early start with a hearty breakfast at the Lillooet Inn across the street from Dina’s. Saddle up and head back on Highway 99 but make sure you have a full tank as there are no services for about 100 kilometres.
Stop for fuel and coffee in Pemberton and stretch your legs. Get ready for some great sweepers on the stretch to Whistler.
If you are on a dual sport machine, you can choose the sometimes challenging West Harrison FSR that begins just as you finish the switch backs coming down into the Pemberton Valley. Watch for the In-Shuck-ch FSR that follows Lillooet Lake going south. There are one or two technical sections but even a larger adventure bike should be fine. The road goes along Harrison Lake and comes out on Highway 7 at the Sasquatch Inn.
If you’re going to stick to the pavement, blast down to Whistler and then over the new part of the road from Whistler to Horseshoe Bay. You’ll be back in the Lower Mainland before you know it.
You can bypass Whistler Village altogether by taking Alta Lake Road that begins at Alpine Village, goes behind Alta Lake and rejoins Highway 99 at Tamarisk. It is all paved and gives a nice view of Whistler Mountain.
The Olympics in 2010 gave us a newly engineered road between Horseshoe Bay to Whistler with great curves and fresh pavement. Lots of two-lane passing sections were added to get by the meandering vista seeker in the RV. However, I caution anyone in the mood for a spirited ride that the road is a favourite for speed traps, especially through Lions Bay where the speed limit is 60 km/h.
All good things must come to an end and just past Lions Bay, you’ll find yourself back in urban traffic on the Upper Levels Highway. The stop-and-go congestion will give you plenty of time to think about your next two wheeled adventure.
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