Campbell River - Central Vancouver Island's Green Gem

Jun 22, 2014 at 0:02
Jun 22, 2014
by Lee Lau  
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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 impossibly green, diverse and 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.

On this trip we were headed to Campbell River; a town of approximately 31,000 people located in central Vancouver Island but with an abundance of trails. Trail maps are available from the local advocacy and cycling club River City Cycle Club. 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.

Campbell River May 2014 from Lee Lau on Vimeo.

The riding

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. More about the good work done by River City Cycle Club can be read here.

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.

It's worth noting that Campbell River's location is very close to other riding hotbeds in the Comox Valley some of which we've discussed in this previous Pinkbike article. Loam-starved mainlanders, those who want to escape crowds or just want a tech pedalling experience would be well advised to check this area outh

Getting to Vancouver Island from the mainland involves a cruise on BC Ferries. Check the schedule as it can change. Campbell River is a 155km drive from Nanaimo.

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.

Campbell River tech trails May 2014 from Lee Lau on Vimeo.

Punchy climbs 

 A wheelie drop on Sanitarium, a trail Martin built 22 years ago! 

Insanely buff trails on the Pumphouse loops in Elk Falls Provincial Park 

Views didn't suck. 

 Trails creatively well signed by a local 

Where to stay

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, a garden view cabin having a kitchenette, hot tub (as they all do) and a place to chill. The only minor issue with the garden view cabin is that it can be a bit dark - unsurprising given how thick the forest is in these parts.

Dolphins had other cabins closer to the ocean which would have incredible views but they get reserved way in advance so be warned. On the whole, Dolphins resort was a great place to stay in Campbell river. Dinner at Anglers was VERY good and deserving of its high Tripadvisor rating

Eggs Benny and the Angler Breakfast, did you say INCLUDED with Accommodation!

Bedroom - the darkness did make us sleep in.

 5 star dinners at the Anglers restaurant!

Well mapped trails.

Campbell River - Snowden Forest Trails at EveryTrail
Our tour with Martin
Must Read This Week


  • + 8
 Man if you guys think Campbell River is great, you gotta stop in Cumberland on your way there! Great riding, great little town, and not as far as a drive! Wink
  • + 3
 Check out the reference in the last para under "Riding" to an older story about riding in Cumberland, Hornby, Forbidden and Mt Washington DH (RIP). IMO the Central Island is worth at least a week to ride and visit
  • + 2
 I defiantly agree with you for the Cumberland part. I've been up there once and I can't wait to go there again. Just make sure you have a shit ton of water on a hot day. Got super dry and dusty when I was there
  • + 2
 haha @leelau i totally skipped over that part, but reread it and found it.. whoops. Central Island is amazing though!
haha yea @Rider-jh I usually go for a rip every other day there and you gotta have at least 2L of water with you and another 1-2 at the car waiting for you lol Best to go in the evening too or in the morning when its not too hot, mid day is brutal, and the dustiest!
  • + 8
 mmmm .. Campbell River eh? Well I do like their soup.
  • + 5
 Good work Martin! You really know your way around the bush.
  • + 1
 He Sure Does!
  • + 4
 A fun trail in the river.
  • + 1
 wow - Stevil!!!
  • + 1
 here's the same trail a year ago, me and a buddy shot this
  • + 3
 Dmadness will do just for you
  • + 2
 I will loan you Ultimate 90's Dance Hits Vol 7 (the best one imo)
  • + 3
 Thanks Bryce. It's always a joy when someone appreciates random disco hits. Will try for Best of Eurovision transsexual beats theme next story
  • + 1
 Campbell River's my hometown, miss the moss, oldgrowth and lakes. Ahhh, hope it stays like that forever! Nice writeup Lee!
  • + 2
 nice trails, maybe next video you could use even more brutal music
  • + 3
 Dunno... kinda reminds me of "Rad" in a good way.
  • + 2
 Great review! Glad you had a good time in CR.
  • + 1
 Sweet review hopefully make the trek up the island soon
  • + 1
 I don't know what is more mouth-watering: the trails or the food...

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