Comox Valley: Courtenay, Comox & Cumberland
Local Bike Maps & Off-Highway Paved Route Options
This is home territory for me. The Comox Valley is comprised of Courtenay (the biggest), Comox (with airport and Little River ferry link to Powell River), and Cumberland (mountain biking mecca). In some ways, I see the Comox Valley as a central riding hub for the region: check out this area page.
Most cycle tourists in this area ride the old coastal highway, but some ride the wide shoulders of the big inland highway. Even the coastal highway can get a good amount of traffic, so getting off on local roads can be a relaxing treat, and a chance to get some local flavour.
I'll need to grow this section as well: although I've ridden all over the place around these parts, I've not always been trying to piece together off-highway tracks.
These pics relate to the bottom 'North from Courtenay' section below, detailing some routes to head north out of Courtenay off the highways. Top left: the most common route heads north from Courtenay town along Condensory Road, which begins just after the bridge over the Puntledge River, where it was the fall salmon run when I took this pic, with the anglers out in force. Top right shows the little trail/connector between Nurmi Road and Howard Road. Bottom right is the fine beach at Saratoga on a cool, overcast last day of June (yikes). Bottom left shows where the Williams Oyster River segment rejoins the old coastal highway.
These 2 maps have been researched and put together by the fabulous (and very active) Comox Valley Cycling Coalition (confession - I'm a member).
One map is for the wider region, with the second zeroing in on a smaller urban core of the 3 communities. You download the PDF maps from this page within the CVCC website. There's also a mini fold-out 'Z-card' waterproof paper map, designed to work with the online maps: free in local bike shops while stocks lasts!
The maps have info on the type of road or trail, cycling safety features like shoulders, and a wealth of other useful local touring information, like parks, spots to be extra cautious, and points of interest. You can zoom in, hover over symbols then click through to get into deeper levels of information. Download them here and check them out. Or click on the maps, to also go to the download page.
Congrats to CVCC on getting these together and out to the cycling community.
The first map pic below shows the Comox Valley regional map. The second is the smaller urban area maps of Courtenay, Comox and Cumberland.
Let me highlight a couple of off-highway routes I regularly use when heading north, either for touring or just to stretch out some. You could put these together using the great CVCC maps (above), but it might be a challenge for those not familiar with the area. I'll start right from downtown Courtenay.
Southbound off-highway routes are a less accommodating as the Trent River is just south of Royston, which itself is just south of Courtenay. Other than backroads, the only bridges across the Trent are on the old and new highways. There are other, rougher backroads options, but that's not our focus in this section (to see the backroads options, check out south from Courtenay on the backroads.)
I've pulled together 4 off-highway segments in the map below, to the north of Courtenay. Below the map, I've got directions for each.They don't go all that far north, but are a pleasant way to start if you're heading up to Campbell River, or a closer destination - perhaps one of the fine campgrounds like Miracle Beach or Kitty Coleman.
North from Courtenay ... continued from above
1. Red track - Little River ferry terminal north to old highway:
This 13+km track will get you on your way along the old coastal highway heading north. You'll be on Elinor Road as you head south out of the ferry terminal. After 1.7kms there's a sharp 'V-right' north onto Anderson, which angles left/NW after over a km and becomes Waveland Road, which you'll follow a further 2.5kms to the junction with Bates Road, where you'll turn left/west. Keep on Bates for almost 4kms until the junction with Coleman Road, where you'll turn left/west. Follow Coleman a further 4+kms to the junction with the old coastal highway.
2. Turquoise track - downtown Courtenay to the big Inland Highway:
This track starts you on your way north, but assumes you'll be taking the big inland highway. The first part of the track leaving Courtenay is actually covered by the magenta track, so you'll need to use a little imagination. We start from the west side of the old 5th Street bridge in downtown Courtenay. Head NW on Anderson and you'll reach a bridge over the Puntledge River in less than a km. Your road turns into Condensory Road which you'll follow ~5.5km NW to the junction with Brazier, where you'll turn left for just a 1/2km before turning right onto Dove Creek Road. Keep on Dove Creek, which bends about some, and after 4kms you'll reach the big Inland Highway.
3. Magenta track - heading north on old highway:
This is my most commonly used route when heading north from town. This starts from the same place as #2 above - the west side of the old 5th Street bridge, so we'll pick up on the directions just after the bridge over the Puntledge River. Rather then head straight out Condensory, you'll turn right/east onto Piercy Road after 2+kms. After under a km, you'll go right on Dove Creek Road, which will bend east to cross a bridge over the Tsolum River, and after the bridge you'll turn left/north onto Headquarters Road. Keep on HQ for 9+kms to the junction with Merville Road, where you'll turn right for under a km before turning left again onto Howard Road. Nice riding around here. After 3kms, Howard will reach the old coastal highway.
4. Green track - North along the coast to Saratoga Beach:
If you want to put a little work into going further north off-highway than #3 above, this segment does the trick - though you'll be on a few dirt track stretches. Apologies for all the detail, but it's a sweet little route. If you look at the green track above, at the west side you'll see it starts from Howard Road. (end of #3 above). However, from Howard, there's a ~1/2km small trail connecting to the west dead end of Nurmi Road, which runs west perpendicular off the old coastal highway. It's a small trail you need to watch closely for (see pic at top), but fine to ride. Nurmi Road crosses the highway, but becomes Williams Beach Road on the other side. If you are looking for where to turn off Howard to get on this trail, it's ~50m before you reach street address 7371 on the west side of Howard, which is the better part of a km before Howard reaches the highway.
OK, from the junction of the old highway, you'll ride Williams Beach Road NE for ~7kms, the latter stretches along a hard pack dirt road just in from the seaside. Williams Beach turns into Seaview Road (also hardpack), and you'll enter into a fenced Game Farm (!). There are signs limiting traffic, but it's a public business and I've never heard of cyclists having bother passing through: stop for a coffee if the shop is open. After ~2.5kms, you'll have passed by Miracle Beach Provincial Park, and you will branch right on Beach Crescent for 200m, then left onto Clarkson Ave which you'll take north for 2km. Turn left on Eyre, then almost immediately right onto Henderson, then again left onto Saratoga Road for about 1/2km, then turn right onto Regent Road. Regent will almost immediately cross the Oyster River, and after ~1.5kms on Regent, just past a left junction with Terrain Road (that could get you to the highway after ~100m), you'll reach a gate for the farm (winery?) signed as private. To your left, you'll see a short (10m) trail and fire hydrant (see pic at top): this takes you to the highway shoulder heading north. Whew.