ENJOY ICONIC ISLAND TIME BETWEEN PEDAL STROKES
Ancient stands of temperate rain forest, mild winters, and long stretches of golden, sandy beaches are the hallmarks of Vancouver Island. This is the real West Coast, where the clock ticks a little slower than the rest of Canada. ‘Island time’ is exuded through happy, laid-back locals who enjoy the bounty of fresh seafood, gorgeous climate, and endless beaches and wilderness at their fingertips. Load your bikes up, hop on the ferry and head to the Central and North Island, where siix seaside communities, and those happy locals, are ready to show off uncrowded trails and alpine to ocean adventures that rank among the best in the world.
- Riding Destinations
- Trails to Access
- Island Time
The Island’s Finest Singletrack
Nanaimo, the scenic ferry gateway to the Central and North Island, offers unbelievable riding in a short drive straight off the ferry. Recent trail developments, including the fast and flowy Finer China, plus the must-visit Stevie Smith Bike Park, are proof that this harbour community is committed to catering nothing but good times and progression opportunities to riders of all ages and abilities. Mt. Benson, Doumont and Westwood offer up the thick-forested backdrop to town and are the go-to locations for classic downhill descents and heart-pounding single track. Post-ride, check out the local craft breweries and then head downtown to the Arts District, the Old City Quarter or the beautiful waterfront and visit one of the flavourful cafes or restaurants.
In the Tracks of Champions
Cowichan is 20 minutes south of Nanaimo and has all the trails, fast downhills, flows, climbs, and jumps you could wish for. There is Mt. Prevost; famous across Canada as a destination for past world champions with double-black pro lines; the forest of Mt. Tzouhalem, known locally as Mt. Zoo with 36 km (22 mi) of trails; and the boardwalks, bridges and techy rocky terrain of Maple Mountain that will challenge even the most skilled riders. For those who want to go the distance, there’s the rolling 122-km (65-mi) Cowichan Valley Trail that takes you across historic wooden trestles before you cool off in Cowichan Lake. Post-ride, there’s plenty to do in Cowichan—grab a beer in a brewhouse, tour a vineyard, hit a farmer’s market, swap your pedals for a paddle, or visit the beautiful waterfront village of Cowichan Bay.
Ride the Undiscovered
If you want the trails to yourself, look no further than this slice of island paradise. Gabriola is a classic, ultra-laid back, hippie-influenced smaller island off the Island. A short, 20-minute ferry ride from Nanaimo brings you to this riding oasis, where the only other people you may see on the trails are the posse you brought with you on the road trip! This is an XC island, where approximately 20 trails can be found on the central and western sides of Gabriola. The best way to discover these local riding nuggets are through tour companies that offer a variety of fun group rides that cater to all riding abilities. In between laps, check out the local artisan flavour and pick up that one-of-a-kind gift you’ve been promising mom!
Mount Washington Bike Park
A phenomenal bike park with one of the best views you will ever see, period. Only 30-minutes from Comox and Courtney, you’ll find Mount Washington Alpine Resort - towering 1917 metres above sea level and boasting a 14-trail bike park that delivers a gnarly ride for all levels. Alpine and ocean vistas fall away to big and burly machine-made trails that personify flow and fun. Take a break from uphill grunts and treat yourself to luxurious, lift-serviced riding that maximizes the daring descent. Perfect berms and a generous mix of trails welcome riders from July through September. Epic events, Bike-and-Stay deals and post-ride brews are standard at Mount Washington so grab your posse and head to the Island’s alpine today.
The picturesque Village of Cumberland is comfortably nestled beneath the Beaufort Mountains in the scenic Comox Valley. A renowned mountain bike destination with what is arguably the Island’s most diverse trail network, Cumberland offers endless single-track and is a host community of the BC Bike Race. Technical XC, grueling climbs, exhilarating downhills and scenic vistas are all part of a regular riding day in Cumberland. Post-ride, head into the village, which is only a few pedal-strokes from the trails. Cumberland is a hub for artisans and provides local-flavour shopping, people-watching and delicious eateries along Dunsmuir Avenue. A craft brewery, thriving music scene, storied history and long-standing pubs frequented by the Village’s locals, all add to the uniqueness of this vibrant riding community.
North of 50
Convenient rides on the edge of the Island’s wildest wildernes. Campbell River offers a diverse range of XC and DH trails that are only a stone’s throw from town. Being the northernmost region in the bike loop, Campbell River is the perfect jump-off point to wilderness excursions to the North Island, or via ferry to the ultra-scenic and bike-friendly Quadra and Cortes Islands which are a short boat ride into the Discovery Passage. Families can enjoy quality time pedalling into the Beaver Lodge Lands while more experienced riders will want to check out the 100+kms of riding available in the Snowden Forest and Pump House. Get ready for technical rides, some leg-burning climbs and friendly locals. A couple of key things you shouldn’t forget when riding Campbell River: don’t forget to take a glimpse of the magnificent ocean and Coast Mountain views during breaks, second, don’t forget to bring your ‘eh’ game to this awesome network of trails!
Go With The Flow
A secret so good it is hidden behind two ferries. If you’re looking for the type of getaway that requires you to disconnect and really get away, Hornby is the answer to your biking destination dreams. An island off the Island, Hornby is slightly off the beaten track but don’t let that keep you from ferry-hopping over. Hornby has out-of-this-world riding and one of Canada’s most beautiful beaches. The best part is, once you park your vehicle on Hornby, you won’t need to start it up again until you leave; the riding is accessible from multiple points across the Island. A multitude of XC and DH trails, over 60 to be exact, flank the Mt. Geoffrey Escarpment and Nature Parks. Pedalling uphill is a must and the reward, filled with tacky berms on fun, flowy downhills, is worth every pedal stroke.
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