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Cycle Touring Campbell River & Courtenay

Area Rides & Campgrounds

Campbell River, population over 30,000, is the last good-sized town as one heads north on Vancouver Island, so it's a centre for north island industries such as forestry, as well as a major tourist destination for outdoor enthusiasts. You'll find malls, bike stores, a range of restaurants, nightlife, hotels and campgrounds. 


Campbell River has also got the most incredible concentration of backroads lakes and Rec camping options (anywhere!) to the west, NW (the mother lode) and NE. It's the gateway heading to Strathcona Park, Gold River and the west coast, as well as short ferry hops east to beautiful Quadra & Cortes Islands.  


I've extended this "area" south about 50kms to include Courtenay, a larger city (and my home). There's a string of tough rides into the inland lakes between these 2 towns, and another cluster to the SW out from Cumberland and Comox Lake. See also the page in this section on "Courtenay - Centre of the World").

Campbell River seaside trail | cycle touring Vancouver Island

The long seaside walkway into Campbell River from the south, beside the old coastal Island Highway coming north from Courtenay

One touring caution is that if you take the Island Highway north from Campbell River, or Hwy 28 (to Gold River) west, you'll find a higher portion of traffic will be trucks, particularly if you're riding at the start or end of the working day. This reflects the resource base of the north Island.

Wolf Lake, NW into the backrtoads from Courtenay. I camped here, and met this grandfather out fishing with his grandson on a fine April day.

Fly fishing the Puntledge River | north Courtenay | cycle touring Vancouver Island

Below is a summary map, with buttons for all Campbell River & Courtenay Fav rides and campgrounds. Look close and you'll see the ride buttons are blue with blue shading, and the campground buttons are green with green shading. The map ropes together a lot of content:


Under the map, the rides and the campgrounds are listed alphabetically, with links to the pages or summaries for each. This gives you a geographic overview of Campbell River Area options you'll find, and links to follow if you want. 

Camp Rvr map
Campbell River Courtenay Area map | Fav rides & campgrounds | cycle touring Vancouver Island

Links for buttons in above map - click to jump to pages with more detailed information.

Or click to go back to Maps & Links Central

Campbell River & Courtenay Area Rides (blue buttons):

Campbell River & Courtenay Area Campgrounds (green buttons):

Cougar Creek Rec Camp | bikepacking SW from Gold River | cycle touring Vancouver Island

Dusk - camping at Cougar Creek Rec Camp (a favourite), down the east shores of majestic Tlupana Inlet, SW of Gold River. I was expecting a very basic Rec Camp, and came acroiss this big, well maintained site

Riding down the east shores of McCreight Lake, NE from Roberts Lake, on a fine spring morning

cycle touring McCreight Lake | north of Campbell River | bikepacking Vancouver Island

There’s something special about the lake region right next door to Campbell River.  Certainly, the location & terrain, complete with an amazing 50+ lakes, is part of things.  But only near a town with a history and current reality so closely anchored to the surrounding resource base – forests and fishing, but also hydro projects and mines – would one find such an abundance of Rec Camp sites.  Many other towns now have weaker ties to the surrounding hinterlands.


And this Campbell River hinterland remains popular, very well-used in the season.  Although you’ll see evidence of logging, past and current, all about, the main back roads are well maintained and not gated or closed off to the public, which is becoming all too common further south on the Island. I think there’s hope this may endure, as Campbell River continues to be an outdoor recreation tourist destination, and the gateway to the northern Island.

Quatiaski Harbour & ferry terminal on west Quadra Island, a short ferry hop from downtown Campbell River. Make sure to get your self some Island time if you're in the area.

Quatiaski ferry terminal | Quadra & Cortes Islands | cycle touring Vancouver Island
Loveland Bay Provincial Park | bikepacking west from Campbell River | cycle touring Vancouver Island

Lunch break at Loveland Bay Provincial Park in early spring, before they open up. Looking down across Campbell Lake.

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