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.
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.
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):
Campbell River West. Fav backroads ride. West from Campbell River.
Courtenay NW Lakes. Fav backroads ride. NW from Courtenay.
Courtenay south on the Backroads. Local Content Page on how to get south to Port Alberni through the hinterlands inland from the Island's east coast, via Horne Lake
Denman & Hornby Islands. Fav ride for all. South from Courtenay.
Horne Lake Port Alberni Loop. Honourable mention backroads ride. NE of Port Alberni.
Malaspina Peninsula. Fav ride for all. North from Powell River.
North to Sarah Point. Fav backroads ride. North from Powell River
Port Alberni north to Courtenay. Fav backroads ride. Port Alberni north to Courtenay
Poum Lake - Honourable mention backroads ride. South from Courtenay.
Powell River NE Lakes. Fav backroads ride. NE from Powell River.
Quadra & Cortes Islands. Fav ride for all. East from Campbell River
Strathcona Park (& West to Gold River). Fav ride for all. W/SW from Campbell River
Texada Island North. Fav ride for all. Texada Island.
Texada Island Rough. Fav backroads ride. Texada Island.
Texada's Hidden NE Bays. Fav backroads ride. Texada Island.
Tsable Comox Lake Loop. Fav backroads ride. SW from Courtenay.
Courtenay Area Campgrounds (green buttons):
- Brewster Lake Rec Camp. Fav campground. NW from Campbell River.
- Fillongley Provincial Campground. Honourable mention camp. Denman Island.
- Okeover Arm Provincial Campground. Honourable mention camp. North from Powell River.
- Ralph River Provincial Campground. Fav campground. Strathcona Park.
- Regan Lake Rec Camp. Honourable mention camp. NW from Courtenay.
- Shingle Beach Rec Camp. Honourable mention camp. Texada Island.
- Smelt Bay Provincial Campground. Honourable mention camp. Cortes Island.
- Stamp River Provincial Campground. Honourable mention campground. NW from Port Alberni.
- Strathcona Dam Rec Camp. Honourable mention camp. West from Campbell River.
- Texada's Hidden NE Bays. Honourable mention Camp. Texada Island
- Toy Lake Camp. Fav campground. NW of Port Alberni.
- Tsable Lake Camp. Fav campground. SW from Courtenay.
- Willington Point (Upper Quinsam Lake) Rec Camp. Fav campground. West from Campbell River.
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:
Just 50kms north to Campbell River, from where you can head out directly to Quadra & Cortes Islands, the grand NW Lakes cluster, the Campbell River West lakes, with awesome Strathcona Park beyond. Or start off for the far north along the North Island Highway.
Head south below Denman Island, and you're deep into the charms of the Central Island. You'll reach the Horne Lake Port Alberni Loop, with the countless options of Parksville, Port Alberni and Nanaimo not far beyond.
Take the ferry east from Comox to Powell River on the north Sunshine Coast, and there's another handful of riding options right at hand: the Malaspina Peninsula to the north; NE Powell River Lakes to the east; and, Texada Island a short ferry hop away.
Check out Courtenay south on the Backroads, for detailed info on how to ride south to Port Alberni on the backroads through the vast hinterlands inland from the Island's east coast, via Horne Lake
Finally, west - actually W/SW down towards Port Alberni and the southern heart of Vancouver Island via the backroads. Check out the excellent Port Alberni north to Courtenay ride.
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.
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).
And here's a good link to learn more about the legendary mountain biking hub of Cumberland.