Cycle Touring Courtenay - Centre of the World

Thought I'd best put in a well-deserved plug for my hometown.

I've put this in the Area Rides section, but it's a bit of a different beast (and there's a good bit of overlap with a few other areas, particularly 'Campbell River & Courtenay'). Rather than just looking at rides and camping nearby (though this page does that), the focus here is also on the fact that Courtenay is a central jump-off point to soooo many areas & options. Within a few hours (at most an easy day's ride) from Courtenay, you can get to more incredible riding destinations than from any other place.  

 

Add to that the fact that Courtenay, including the renowned mountain biking hub of Cumberland village, has great bike trails around the city, and its own excellent backroads riding hinterlands, and Courtenay really can call itself the centre of the world (at least, this little Vancouver Island & Sunshine Coast cycle touring world).   

 

The neighbouring communities of Courtenay, Comox & Cumberland make up the Comox Valley. Courtenay is by far the biggest.

Read on for riding ideas, or check out the Area Map with links below.

Out for a few hours' ride along the Puntledge River trail network. Courtenay, Comox & Cumberland have extensive trail riding networks, in addition to the backroads surrounding the area.  

Puntledge River trails | Courtenay cycling trails | cycle touring Vancouver Island
Seaside cycling trails in Courtenay | cycle touring Vancouver Island

A pic along the seaside trail following the estuary into Courtenay (just east of the inland highway). There's a coffee shop and local airport for seaplanes (if you look closely, you'll see a plane moored at the rear right) & small planes, just beside here. It's also a favourite launching spot for kayakers & water boarders 

Below is a summary map, with buttons for Courtenay area rides and campgrounds. The boundaries with surrounding areas are pretty fuzzy, so some rides will turn up in both. If you take a close look 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 Courtenay area options you'll find within this website, and links to follow if you wish. 

 
Courtenay area map | 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

Courtenay Area Rides (blue buttons):

Courtenay Area Campgrounds (green buttons):

Salmon fishermen along the Puntledge River, just north outside Courtney, on a fine Fall day. Picture taken from the bridge just north of Courtenay. The fish were definitely biting.

Salmon fishing along the Puntledge River, Courtenay, Vancouver Island, bike tours

Let me justify my 'centre of the world' metaphor, highlighting both the local riding options around Courtenay, as well as the onward connections. 

Let's start with the local Courtenay region:​

  • fine network of cycling trails around the Comox Valley, with s special call-out for all the mountain biking trails around Cumberland. 

  • Courtenay NW Lakes. Head north out of town, getting onto Duncan Bay Main, a backroads artery that runs all the way to Campbell River. Various backroads connections take you to a wealth of lakes with rough camping options: Wolf, Regan, Blue Grouse, Lost, Little Lost, Wowo, Quinsam, etc. Or follow the Oyster River road network all the way up to the backside of Mt Washington - over 1,000m up.

  • Follow the old Island Highway north towards Campbell River, with a bunch of fine oceanside camping options along the way: Bates Beach, Kin Beach, Kitty Coleman, Miracle Beach (a fine big Provincial park), and a number of private camping options

  • SW down Comox Lake backroads. There's informal camping options along and off Comox Lake (sometimes gated due to logging). To the immediate south is Willemar Lake, with a cluster of small rec camps. Or, head SE from Cumberland up and down the Beaufort Range, over a thousand metres up (see Tsable Lake ride)

  • South down the old Island Highway to Denman & Hornby Islands (only 25kms). Check out the 'Honourable Mention ride' tour. This also gets you on to the backbone ride - the Vancouver Island Sunshine Coast Loop.

 

More below pic .....

 

There are serious backroads hinterlands to the south, the SW, and the NW of Courtenay (see Tsable Lake & Courtenay NW Lakes fav rides). This pic is from one of the rough access tracks into Regan Lake, to the NW, which has several small informal camps. Obviously, the old bridge here has seen better days.

More on Courtenay area connections (continued from above pic).

Now, let's just follow the compass:

The top pic shows the beach at Miracle Beach Provincial Camp, ~25kms north of Courtenay. The shot below, looking across to the coastal mountains, is from Kin Beach Campground, right in Comox town, just a few kms from the Little River ferry terminal.

Courtenay area cycling campgrounds | Kin Beach & Miracle Beach Campgrounds | cycle touring Vancouver Island

Here's some popular camping options in and around Courtenay.

If you're taking the ferry to/from Powell River, and need a place the terminal, try Kin Beach Campground (pic above) - a provincial park, but small and managed locally. Like most community campgrounds, this is fairly basic - a road close behind, limited trails, and a little cramped. But the attraction is that it's along the beautiful seaside, and close to the ferry terminal. No surprise, they fill up in season (open year round), but if you call in advance, they'll usually try to fit in another cyclist. 

 

I also like Kitty Coleman Campground, 12+kms or so north along the seaside, which fits much the same description as Kin Beach, except it's a little wilder and out of the way. And if you're going north, you can consider Miracle Beach Provincial Camp (pic above), ~25kms north, a big, treed, full service provincial campground.

South of Courtenay, behind the satellite village of Cumberland, check out Cumberland Lake Park Camp, a popular private site with nice swimming beaches on Comox Lake.

 

If you want to be near (walking distance) the centre of Courtenay, check out Puntledge RV Camp - a nice enough, reliable place to set up (big field & facilities). Two other options, both north of the ferry, are worth checking out if things are full: Seal Bay Park, away from seaside, but spacious, nicely treed and closer to town, and Bates Beach, kinda cramped, and full up in season, but along the seaside.

Tsable Lake camp | bikepacking SW of Courtenay | cycle touring Vancouver Island

Camping along the remote, high altitude shores of hard to reach Tsable Lake, SW of Cumberland. There's no formal campsites: you just choose a lakeside spot you like. I had the lake entirely to myself.

Courtenay has a fine trail along the seaside and then the estuary, that you can access at the south of town if you are coming north along the old island highway (which I assume will be the case for most cycle tourists). There are also stretches of beautiful seaside trail a little to the south through Royston (see bottom pic). 

Here's a link to a couple of interactive maps of cycling routes around the Comox Valley, put out by the Comox Valley Cycling Coalition

If you're interested to learn more about Courtenay, here's a link to Discover Comox Valley, from Comox Valley Tourism. And here's some tourism links from the City of Courtenay.

And here's a good link to learn more about the legendary mountain biking hub of Cumberland.

Backroads SW from Courtenay | bikepacking Vancouver Island | bikepacking Beaufort Range

Climbing the backroads into the Beaufort Range. Looking back east to the Comox Valley, Georgia Strait & mainland BC in the distance. It was late April, and once I hit ~600m up, roads were still blocked by snows.

Caution - Safety First:

This website does not encourage anyone to undertake activities in the backwoods without considering fully issues of safety, access and readiness. There are no guarantees with any information provided in this website.  Please read  the FAQs, research further as appropriate, and use your judgement at all times

Wild camping along remote, high elevation Tsable Lake, SW of Cumberland