Vancouver Island is always a unique pleasure to visit. Protected from the masses by a Ferry ride resulting in relatively not that many people living and riding here. But once you get on the ferry, which is the cheapest cruise you’ll ever go on, you enter the domain of loamy virtually virgin trails. While I’m sure some people who live on the Island think their trails are beat, they have no idea how lucky they are. Although some do, such as Martin Ready, owner and operator of Island Mountain Rides. You can print off the map yourself, or pick one up at the local bike shop. But if you want to know how to link up the trails just so; or get the best of your riding time just hire Martin and get full experience of riding the goods.
For this weekend trip we opted to ride Snowden forest. Used during the BC Bike Race and maintained by a joint effort between Recreation Sites and Trails BC, BC Timber Sales, Tourism Campbell River, River City Cycle Club (which has a signed partnership agreement to maintain the trails with MoTCA) and Rivercorp. These trails are best suited to a cross country bike and will be challenging for beginners due to its rocky and rooty nature.
Getting there involves a cruise on BC Ferries. Check the schedule as it can change. Campbell River is a 155km drive from Nanaimo.
We stayed at the Dophins Resort, a fishing cabin type resort on the Ocean. Breakfast is included when staying in their cabins, we were in Cabin 8. This is a garden view cabin, which had a kitchenette, hot tub (as they all do). The only minor issue with this cabin is it was a bit dark. Dolphins had other cabins closer to the ocean which would have incredible views but they get reserved way in advance so be warned.
Eggs Benny and the Angler Breakfast, did you say INCLUDED with Accommodation!
We do a Cross Country shuttle into Snowden Forest since we were going to ride out through the Pumphouse Trails in Elk Falls Provincial Park. Martin is a local boy; Les, his dad loves to meet out of towners and drove us in the van over to our start point deeper in the forest while our end point would be closer to town.
You could do a loop of Snowden from Campbell River if you don’t mind a bit of road riding. You could also do loops of trails in either Snowden or Elk Falls and return back to your parked vehicle. It’s interesting to note that BC Parks in this area has a healthy working relationship with mountain bikers, a refreshing change from our home base of Whistler and Vancouver and something to be commended.
Getting ready to ride, thankfully the rain held off.
Martin goes over our route on one of the many maps in Snowden. There are over 100km of trails here! We rode with Martin on our first day riding 33km, and did a shorter 16km ride on our second day.
A wheelie drop on Sanitarium, a trail Martin built 22 years ago!
Fast and loamy
Insanely buff trails on the Pumphouse loops in Elk Falls Provincial Park
Pretty lush forest with saturated ferns and greens
Views didn’t suck.
Creatively well signed by a local
Dolphins resort was a great place to stay in Campbell river. Dinner at Anglers wasVERY good and deserving of its high Tripadvisor rating.
Bedroom – the darkness did make us sleep in.
5 star dinners!
Well mapped trails. Click on map for larger image.
Our tour with Martin