Video: We Love Early Season Escapes to Vancouver Island

May 4, 2018 at 12:25
by Martin Littlejohn  
Views: 11,981    Faves: 66    Comments: 6


Video by Ollie Jones
Photos by Mark Mackay
Words by Hailey Elise


Waiting for the mainland trails to appear from under the snow is like waiting for Christmas- all-consuming anticipation. As the rumours fly, you keep your ear to the ground for any intel on the current rideability and your eyes to the forest for the snow line. What’s even worse, is that surprise spring snowfall that hits and sends your dreams of brown pow that can be reached right from your door into a distant memory. But what if just a ferry ride away, lay trail networks that were already in their seasonal prime?

Vancouver Island is the answer to your springtime woes. It boasts mild winter weather that leaves many of the trails without snow much of the year. Located only 2 hours from Vancouver by ferry, the Island is bursting with networks waiting to be explored. While it’s common knowledge that the island riding scene has been around for quite some time and is highly established, many refrain from travelling to its shores because of the ferry. Needless to say, if this is what’s stopping you, you’re missing out.

BC ferries - Horseshoe Bay to Nanaimo
Don’t let the ferries deter you away from an island road trip. They’re easy and for what they cost, they make up for in not purchasing gas.

Riding zones span the entirety of the island and in theory, it would take weeks, if not months to sample each of them. That being said, the close proximity of the networks makes it perfect for a weekend or week long road trip. To give you a taste of what Vancouver Island has to offer, here are three stops you can connect for an all-encompassing mountain bike trip.

Duncan
Duncan is situated 40 minutes south of the ferry. As with many of the cities in British Columbia, its roots are in the gold rush. Make sure to leave some time to walk around the historical downtown to take in the old buildings and landmarks. This little island town is home to the infamous Mount Prevost which has been put on the map over and over in numerous films. It’s best to visit early in the season to avoid the lengthy pedal up when the gate closes at the bottom in summer due to fire hazard. This network is known for it descents. An easy shuttle puts you at the top and from there, it’s just you and gravity. The trails feature lots of flow, optional stunts and riding for all ability levels. If your travels include camping, there are plenty of convenient spots to pitch a tent right near the trails.

April riding in Duncan
Classic Pacific Northwest riding.

April riding in Duncan
Not one, not two but every single trail is phenomenal.

If you’d prefer to pedal, check out Mount Tzouhalem. Located roughly 10 minutes from downtown, it’s a popular spot for locals and visitors alike. Here, you’ll find a nice mix of single track and tech with a little bit of free-ride sprinkled in, should you want to log some airtime. The forest is stunning and views of the surrounding bays can be seen if you decide to ride some of the trails found higher up.

April riding in Duncan
The island flowers really showing off their seasonal beauty.

Nanaimo
After you’ve experienced all that Duncan has to offer, travel back north to Nanaimo. There’s no shortage of riding here and you could easily make this the only stop on your trip. Mount Benson, The Stevie Smith Bike Park and Doumont are three of the shining jewels that see a lot of activity. Doumont has recently seen the addition of new machine built trail called Finer China. It’s essentially a massive pump track for every level of rider to enjoy. The trail is the second provincially approved trail for the area and an exciting addition to the network. Did we mention it’s also a dream to ride?

April riding in Nanaimo
Find your flow on Finer China on Doumont and even some airtime if you desire.


Nanaimo is filled with all sorts of trails, including a few stops on BC’s Ale Trail! The BC Ale Trail is made up of an array of local breweries that are part of the provinces craft beer scene. You can link a number of them for a self-guided, multi-stop brewery tour or linger a little longer at one after a day of riding. Delicious and unique brews are often accompanied by tasty eats, so come hungry as well as thirsty!

White Sails Brewery
White Sails Brewing is the cherry on top of a spectacular day of riding.

Parksville
Just a bit further north down the Island Highway, sits Parksville. A resort town of sorts, this anything but sleepy stop on your road trip is tucked right next to the ocean. Ride Hammerfest Mountain, a pedal accessed zone with flowy singletrack, and then stop at Darren Berrecloth’s new restaurant, The Trails End for a pint of local Arrowsmith Brewery Beer. Then head over to Rathtrevor Provincial Park to set up camp in a grove of ancient cedars. Stargazing on the beach is optional but highly suggested. The following day might see you exploring caves or relaxing at the famous Tigh-Na-Mara Seaside Resort.

Rathtrevor Provincial Park
Camping at Rathtrevor Provincial Park.

April riding in Parksville
Taking in the endless scenery before continuing the pedal to Hammerfest Mountain.

Vancouver Island not only offers an exciting and plentiful riding scene, it’s also home to breweries, history, and stunning displays of nature. Throw your ferry fears out the window and escape the mainland to get on island time, you might not want to leave.


MENTIONS: @MountainBikingBC



64 Comments

  • + 21
 Cumberland is a gem that you missed.
  • + 10
 best riding on Vancouver Island.
  • + 8
 @whitebirdfeathers: riding fools hostel ????????
  • + 13
 hey hey, never you mind, keep it south of the Comox Valley, all the riding north of Parksville is shit and not worth the extra drive.
  • + 2
 @jamesbrant: shhhhh!!!!
  • + 18
 Great summary of the top end. But no shout out to the dump! 20 minutes out of Victoria and into the best volunteer maintained bike parks I have ever ridden. If you're going over to the island, start (or finish) there.
  • + 0
 Love Hartland!!!! The dump is a must visit I was waiting for it to get a nod...
  • + 32
 Quick, somebody tell SIMBS, we found someone who likes Hartland!
  • + 3
 @dkidd: I lived in Vic from 2010-2012 and ran FexEx Ground the dump was my sanity. I had great memories there, met so many good people and fell into the river more than a few times usually on my back soaking my pack.
  • + 15
 The dump is great and all, but honestly it's the last place I would take someone who's not from Vancouver Island. There is some seriously good stuff out here.
  • + 9
 as some one who lives here, theres a lot of really great spots that werent mentioned.
thats okay. this article would be too long to read if it had it all Wink
Come out and explore Big Grin
  • + 5
 If you are planning to come over to ride the dump, you are much better off to try to get some local knowledge first. The best riding isn't in the park, but in non-sanctioned trails on mt werk and partridge hills. Bigger climbs, descents, views and the trails are much more advanced and in a more natural state. The trails at partridge hills are not on trail forks. All of these areas join together.
  • + 7
 Maple Mountain just outside Duncan is well worth a day of riding too. Maple Syrup is one of the best all around trails you can find out here. check it out!
  • + 6
 @KMcNeil: agreed. And one of the best climbing trails in the PNW.
  • - 3
 Look great but that lectronic muzik blows. Why not some Cascadian black metal or at least BC's Mitochondrion
  • + 2
 @omclive: someone deleted them all from trailforks. Local Government is not being very cooperative with the partridge trails. Sad it is a great riding hill.
  • + 1
 @endlessblockades: its almost as if different people have different tastes in music. if you don't like the music, turn it down, or better yet, make your own video with whatever music you like. Nothing worse than an elitist metal head.
  • + 0
 @arrowheadrush: I support BC music. It was just a question and an opinion. Look around - there are far worse things going on.
  • + 3
 @cdmbmw: okay the dump and partridge really were all I knew. I will be in Vic Friday may 18th primary objective to ride, the 19th headed up to Nanaimo same objective. Where do you recommend or better yet who the hell wants to go shred?
  • + 2
 @Mirks: If you're in Nanaimo and like 'enduro' style riding. Check out South Benson area. If you like xc with a bit of Gnar thrown in check out Westwood.
I recommend stopping by Arrowsmith bikes in Nanaimo to get an idea of what trails are worth riding, Ide rather not mention them publicly.
On the way up to Nanaimo, going through Cowichan, Tzouhalem is also certainly worth a visit.
  • + 2
 @cdmbmw: thank you so much Smile a girl loves help
  • + 1
 @happychucky: they've been taken off Trail forks because they're in the process of becoming sanctioned, at which point they'll be back on the map. They just want to first figure out which will be labeled multi use, hike only, etc.
  • + 6
 Keep an eye on your bike if you're in Nanaimo. The place is crawling with bike thieves.
  • + 1
 It's that bad eh? I must be super lucky as I have accidentally left my garage door open and bikes on display for everyone to see for hours several times and have never had my bikes stolen.
  • + 7
 Great article! I'm glad you only gave away about half our secrets!!! Wink
  • + 3
 Haha, I love how this article skipped many many great locations that I ride. Which is totally fine... part of the reason I moved away from the crazily overpopulated mainland was to ride trails where I don't see anyone. The ferry is a nice natural barrier. Most people forget or don't know how much better the weather is over here as well... riding all year in the sun is just so, so nice.

In saying that, come and ride our trails, we have a ton of great spots and lots of space. The best way to beat the price of the ferries is just to move here :-)
  • + 4
 Goodluck getting a spot at rathtrevor ..... I suggest englishman river as it is also at bottom of hammerfest. I will be there next weekend Smile
  • + 2
 There's also Little Qualicum Falls if you don't mind driving a few minutes further out of town. I loved camping here six years ago when I was out that way.
  • + 3
 Ok this is on my bucket list. This looks like my idea of a dream vacation. Trails, fresh brewed ales, and fireside tales of the day gone by. What else do you need?
  • + 2
 BC bud
  • + 2
 The Dump needs more trails but the CRD is not very helpful at all. CRD should learn from Norh Cowichan. NC supports its mountain bike community and realizes the economic value of it. Those trails are not in Duncan but NC.
  • + 4
 You might hate paying the ferry $$, but it's the reason you have so many amazing trails all to yourself. Smile
  • + 3
 It's not cheap, but if you can get a crew of four in the car, then the cost gets spread out pretty nicely.
  • + 1
 @big-red: how much $ to get a passenger vehicle over?
  • + 1
 @rocky-mtn-gman: Too much. It's around $90 with vehicle and one passenger
  • + 2
 @gunners1: interesting, thanks. that is expensive but wouldn't be a deal breaker if i was making a road trip. however, if i was closer and i could do it often like you guys, that would suck ass.
  • + 4
 If you come to the Victoria area don’t miss out on Harbourview in Sooke.
  • + 3
 Awesome! Looks like you hit up the good trails and even sent Gully's Builder segment trail with style.
  • + 3
 Funny the article could have included so much more. But everyone can look at Trailforks and figure it out. Ride Rest Repeat!
  • + 2
 I wish we could have touched on everything but it would have gone on forever. The Island is incredible and there are no bad times to be had, that's for sure!
  • + 3
 Stoke level = high to very high! Great edit!
  • + 2
 The Island used to be for the Newly Wed or Nearly Dead.

I thought my sound card exploded at 2:12!!!
  • + 1
 Awesome video! Happy you had a great time on the island, so much more great riding here too...we are very lucky to live where we do!
  • + 3
 living here, it gets hard to leave the island lol
  • + 3
 "Cleavage, Mr.T" Mt. Provost
  • + 3
 Another reminder that life isn't fair.
  • + 1
 Go on the ferry as a passenger with your bike.
20$
You can get to trails near Victoria and Nanaimo by bike.
  • + 1
 whatever you do don't ride the single track on Hornby Island....too many ferries.....and its mine. muahaha
  • + 2
 The video is good very good....but the music....oh my god it's bad!!!
  • + 1
 Mt Prevost where Stevie started his legend......Van Isle is the best place on this planet!
  • + 1
 Anyone know what trail that was in Parksville? Had some pretty sweet booters
  • + 3
 That was awesome!
  • + 1
 Hey nice riding man! I guess this is what you have been talking about.
  • + 2
 Heading over today!
  • + 1
 Nice video! Nice guerrilla gravity!
  • + 1
 living the dream
  • - 1
 Loved the video but the music made me want to rip my ears off my head.
  • + 1
 On the island, there's a set of speakers playing this song to help to get you stoked.
  • - 3
 @PinkyScar: Replace it with anything from Trampled by Turtles.
  • - 1
 I liked it.
  • - 2
 Welsh Columbia
  • - 1
 Drunk'in Duncan nice

Post a Comment



You must login to Pinkbike.
Don't have an account? Sign up

Join Pinkbike  Login
Copyright © 2000 - 2019. Pinkbike.com. All rights reserved.
dv65 0.049354
Mobile Version of Website