Hornby Island

Jul 8, 2009
by Tyler Maine  
Avoiding mid-season burnout.

I love my job! Yep it’s true and I am glad that you all return day after day to read the news that we post and create for everyone around the world. The plus side is that I get to work with bikes everyday and tell you about everything that is happening in the world of two-wheelers. The only downside is that the internet doesn’t take days off and you have to find ways to stay charged and refreshed so as to avoid getting burned out doing something that you love so much.

For me, I took Friday off of work last week (after working Canada Day) and took a little trip to Hornby Island! Check out my two wheeled adventure inside and enjoy the pics of that beautiful place.It’s now summer time and if you want to go to any Island you’ll need to make reservations ahead of time to guarantee that you’ll be able to board a ferry (costs $17 extra for that reservation though). Having an open weekend in the summer is like winning a Golden ticket to tour the Willy Wonka Chocolate factory and I wanted an adventure that was of that caliber too. For the oddest reason, Hornby Island was the place that I wanted to go – I’ve never seen riding pics or vids from there, just heard positive things over the years and that’s all I needed to convince myself to hit the road or should I say ferries. My partner in crime and I made reservations about 3 days ahead of time for 2:30pm on Friday (that was also the only time left for the Friday or there were 2 openings on Saturday that weren’t full yet – yikes!).

The Matrix got loaded up and the pick up got left behind (Thanks Dre for letting me park on your street) as we began that journey to Hornby. Ferry number one takes you from Horseshoe Bay in Vancouver to Nanaimo on Vancouver Island. From here you will drive up Island towards Courtenay / Comox until you see the Denman Island exit / ferry terminal. Ferry number 2 runs from Vancouver Island to Denman Island and is a really short float. At this point you drive across Denman Island (follow the Hornby Island Ferry signs) and towards ferry number 3 for the day. Yep 3 ferries and you will be on Hornby Island – takes the better part of the day, so do your best to leave on Friday if you get the chance to come over here to recreate.

Mmm ice cream!

Ok now we’re here, what do we do? This is actually the thought process because besides reserving the Nanaimo sailing and asking a few friends about what they thought of the island, we really had no idea what to expect. Find a campsite and then go check out the lay of the land – Hornby is a small island and you can drive all its roads in a matter of hours (Thankfully the bike trails will take you a few days!). Brad’s Dad’s Land was the first campsite we found and the one that came with the highest praise from any of the folks we knew. Rules like no amplified noise (radios, stereos, tvs etc.) and whispers only after 11PM seemed harsh at first, but really we were there to ride, not party, so we signed on the dotted line for 2 nights in lot 2C. Oh ya don’t expect to find $15-20/night camping sites on the island, $72.45 was the tab for 2 nights here, but that is the going rate on Hornby, so just be prepared for the shock.

Off to bed relatively early as the weekend was about bike riding. My friends Pete and Darcy told me that I had to stop in and say hi to Jeremy at the local shop as he was the guy to ask about trails – thankfully they also sell trail maps for $5 here. If you go to Hornby, get a map! The $5 goes to the trail crew and that map will make your life a lot easier until you get the lay of the land and the vast trail network. Jeremy runs a tight repair shop on the island and does rentals for the tourists looking to explore parts of the island. If you want the local knowledge – stop here!

We parked the car at the cemetery parking lot around noon (ok we played tourist a bit in the morning) and hit the trails. The map was amazing! It laid out the mountain and all the trails in a manner in which it made it so easy for us to find our way around. All trails are marked in regards to rider skill level similar to what you see at a resort with chair lifts, only here it’s all XC / AM style trails – DON’T BRING YOUR BIG BIKES. Because the island itself is only about 300 meters high, you will love how friendly the climbing is. Don't let 300 meters scare you away from thinking the descents will be short though as they really utilize the terrain and they are SO WORTH each little up you do. Just like anywhere with a good trail network, you get fun trail names so that you can remember the ones that stuck out in your mind.

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All of my friends told me that I had to ride the section called No Horses, so that was a to do for the weekend. It was nice, but also the most "constructed" on the island from what we got to ride. I came to Hornby to ride their epic buff single track and found so much of it. My favorite loop was Summit Trail up and then Devil's Kitchen to 4 Dead Aliens to Northwind to Jessie's Trail for a full loop with a lot of variety. But really you could do loops all day and each would be a different mixture. The lookouts from various climbs are worth the effort too!

Two days of single track riding may not be the BC Bike race, but damn it made me feel good! We spent 5 hours on the trails on Saturday and 2.5 on Sunday (had to catch the ferry early'ish) and it was nothing short of amazing terrain and fun times. Jeremy was saying that in the winter, all the locals just get out and maintain the trails, hence they are in such buff shape. We even built a little up and over at one log with a lot of chainring marks in it (I may have added a few trying it as well). Besides a few roots and friendly rocks, the majority of the trail network is amazingly buff! I swear that Jeremy almost doesn't need to sell tubes at his shop!



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Dinner each night was spent at Pizza Galore - mmm PIZZA! It was close to our camping and open until 830-900 PM each night so that was perfect for riding, relaxing and eating!

Spacious dining room

And yes besides riding bikes there are great hikes, arts and crafts to see, beaches to chill on, kayak rentals, all that good Island life things, but I was there to ride my two wheeler.

Crazy rocks at Ford Cove


Funky Tree on Cliff Trail

Sunset for anyone into that.

The return trip to Chilliwack was long - oddly only about 200kms by car, but took over 12 hours due to ferry line ups. Next time we'll be sure to make reservations on return sailings as well. That $17 extra sure seemed worth it after sitting in Nanaimo for 4 hours on Sunday night. I rolled up to Dre's house and was stoked to see the truck was still there. A quick drive home and in bed by 2AM, ah love it!

-Happy Trails,

Editor's Note:
Norco Bike's own Darcy Turenne just returned from Hornby and here is her video from the trip there:
Views: 13,746    Faves: 112    Comments: 33


  • 2 1
 I went to the Bike Festival on Hornby in '96 at Tigs place and although it sounds like the trail network has grown since then so has the commercialism. $72 for a couple nights of camping is redonkulous, what happened to all the Pot smoking Hippies livin off the land that made Hornby so special? I will say it was one of the most wicked places I have ever ridden my bike.
  • 1 0
 Yeah...I miss the Bike Fest at Tigs...went there the last year it happened (was that 99 or 2000?) and loved it...may try to hit up the island again later this summer...always a good time. Thats crazy about the price of camping...time to hit up a little BB I think...haha...
  • 1 0
 OK, way dead thread but just looked up Hornby. First, I don't like dumbing down trails too much either but I am not sure if you realize the size of that log, its likely closer to 2 feet, judging by the other stuff placed around for climbing it. Trees get big in BC. It also depends on the type of trail, it sucks if its just beyond a hop and you have to nearly stop on a fast flowy trail. Secondly, the prices are ridiculous and I live in Victoria BC where everything is priced ridiculous! Sickof the sport turning into a rich mans only club. The writer must be well heeled to not mind the reservation fees on top of the normal ferry costs plus that insane camping cost. Does someone build my fire and cook me fillet mignon? Holy craptacular. The amount of money plus time to get there and back almost kills it for me. If you are on the mainland , you could probably go to Nelson and stay in a hotel for the same amount of time and money.
If, I were to go, Id go by bike and poach a camp spot. To spend that kind of money to live like a homeless person is absurd. Maybe thats what I should do. Start offering the true city experience and charge wealthy people a $100 a night and I find them a nice doorway and cardboard box, let the homeless outreach service folks know and bring them a morning Folgers and smoke then a map with all the free services in town! Come get to know the true heart of beautiful Victoria city.
  • 2 1
 Hippies are still there but there's been a ton of investment in the last 5 years since I've been going there and the hippies and locals are being squeezed out by rich absentee landlords and their million dollar beach front properties.
Still a great place to ride though. The tails are so buff it's like taking a vacaction from the North Shore gnar Smile
  • 2 1
 Looks very nice. The "before" and "after" pics of the log-over....I prefer the "before"; I know how to bunny hop! I hate the dumbing down of trails, building up the wheelchair ramps over low logs. If it's under a foot high, leave it be!
  • 2 1
 Thanks but this was high enough to wreck rings and where it's at didn't easily allow a "bunny hop" over it. Remember, you can still "hop" over things if they've been made "wheelchair" ride able, this just allows more people to flow through an area that perhaps they had to dismount and walk before.
  • 1 0
 i love hornby! ive ridden there lots its my spring break place to go ride and it rips! i think everyone should have to go and ride there if they live on V.I its got all riding styles for trails and there very well maintained going there in august!
  • 1 0
 Nice article Brule. As noted by Shawn above, Island Mountain Rides provides guided rides on Hornby and we also have waterfront accommodation on neighboring Denman Island. Can be combined with a couple of days in the Cumberland area as well! Check it out at www.islandmountainrides.com
  • 1 0
 That really looks awesome. Was stoked on going vsmping/biking this summer but the prices! Holy crap! I'm getting a bit sick of the ultra rich 1% buying up every bit of land and turning it into a business. They drive up prices that only well heeled middle class can afford while never actually being there. Hate to go on a rant but something is wrong when people have to spend hundreds on a couple days camping. Yet there are huge lots of land with grand houses sitting empty. I have one bike, no car and just want to ride and camp without taking out a freaking loan. Maybe I will just camp off the trail somewhere. Looks like I'll just keep riding Hartland.
  • 1 0
 ....?well heeled middle class? Oximoron me thinks. It's not the 1%... It's the .1%. If you think the middle class is sqeezing you out check out topincomes.g-mond.parisschoolofeconomics.eu
  • 2 2
 dude hornby is getting fucked over by the population growth...things like this just kill it.. it used to be a beautiful place not well known and a great getaway from the city.. now with people exposing it like this its over croweded.. for god sakes the island is actually sinking lol my grandma has been living here for like 30 years now and ive been going there since i was born and the island is just getting ruined by the amount of people on it
  • 1 0
 i was under the impresion a few years back people wanted to come to the main island and stuff,but i guess its not all that surpsing its getting taken over by retired rich people,too bad.
  • 2 0
 Hornby owns. Something to be said about riding trails with no garbage, cigarette butts etc. Just perfectly buffed singletrack and some sick bermage on No Horses.
  • 3 1
 Darcy Rocks! Keep up the hard work in rockin the womans class. You promote the sport more for all woman that is much needed.
  • 2 0
 now these are the types of articals that get me pumped to ride and explore. Good job Brule and thanks for the inspiration!
  • 3 2
 Classic line I've heard more than once now "the internet never has a holiday!" LOL
  • 2 1
 I go there every summer twice, Ride the mountain everytime. Hornby is a must for anybody around bc alberta area Smile
  • 3 1
 used to go ever summer then stoped its not the same anymore
  • 2 0
 I love Darcy Turenne! That was a great vid.
  • 1 0
 my grandma lives on denman island (island you have to go on to get to hornby) i didnt know hornby had bike trails
  • 1 0
 i go camping their every year and the trails are so clean and smooth great place
  • 2 1
 Looks like a great weekend!
  • 1 0
 nice to see some local trails getting some recognition
  • 1 0
 they should do a thing on bowen island we got gnar dh trails
  • 1 0
 Bike Fest rocked!! 1998. Spasum Chasum crazy cool riding...
  • 1 0
 pain though you have to take 3 ferries from the main land
  • 1 0
 Probably keeps out more of the riff raff (Rich A-holes looking for the next location for there Million dollar cottages)
  • 2 1
 great place
  • 2 1
 NIce place to ride Big Grin
  • 1 0
 Man, what a sweet job
  • 3 4
  • 12 6
 I didn't know Hornby had good trails. Dam hippies and there solid trail building.
  • 4 0
 I'm renting a cabin there at the end of August for 10 days! I'm so stoked for the trip i had to share my enthusiasm Big Grin

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