A Favourite Camping Spot
The Alice Lake Loop Tour (see favourite backroads ride) is a wonderful and unexpected paved road / rough road ride up in the North Island. It's promoted as a tourism experience, and goes from the North Island Highway west to Port Alice then back again further to the south by a backroads route.
What a surprise to find Port Alice is a little backroads hub, with lakes and Rec camps all about this incredible area. My favourite from the bunch is Link River Regional Campground, which I first visited in April 2017. Not surprisingly, I'm told it's popular in season and can fill up. But it's not far to other options.
Here's some attractions of Link River Regional Camp (24 campsites):
there's sites lining the final stretch of the Link River as it empties into SW Alice Lake, as well as along the SW shores of the lake, with gorgeous views looking north up the lake
Do you like beaches, rafts and swimming (see above pic)?
They regularly stock the campground with free fire wood, though this always runs out
You're out in an area teeming with remote lakes, many with Rec campgrounds, mostly tiny, but nearby Spruce Bay and Marble River are good sized camping options
For families, there's a playground and 3 covered BBQ areas
Link River Regional Campground is open June through Labour Day Weekend in September. Here's the webpage link. After that it is user maintained. Campsite are $15 per night. They do take reservations for a $5 surcharge. It is common the campground will fill up on summer weekends and holidays. Water is from the lake or river, and so needs to be treated.
See the location map at the bottom. I drove up to Port McNeill, 200kms north of Campbell River along the North Island Highway. I left my car at the pay lot next to the BC Ferry terminal, for $5 per day (can fill up in season). Then, north again for ~22kms to the Highway 30 turn-off to Port Alice, 35 further kms along a fine paved road - a few steep hills and lots of twists and turns to make for an interesting ride. Before the Highway 30 turnoff, you'll see some Tourist Kiosks that promote and provide info on the Alice Lake Loop Tour. This is important as it means that on the return (backroads) part of the loop to the south, any logging operations are keenly aware they need to keep an eye out for tourist traffic.
The "formal" Alice Lake Loop (check out Fav Ride) actually goes to Port Alice then backtracks a ways to the well signed connector to Link River Campground. In the map below, you can see this connector in pink/magenta, NE of Port Alice.
You could go direct to Link River from the north, branching east off the paved highway onto the dirt road connector a few kms before Port Alice. You can choose to return by the paved route or the more adventurous southern backroads route, past a succession of remote lakes and Rec Camps.
From Link River it's about 70kms back to the highway to the NE, along Alice Lake then Keogh Mains. There's some high grade hills to climb, and some stretches with crushed stone, mostly small. There's also lots of great lakes and camping options. I saw my first bear of the season.
At the highway junction, you are only about 4kms north of the turn-off into Port McNeill and the end of your ride.