North to Sarah Point
A favourite backroads ride
This is a short backroads ride in terms of distance (possible as a day trip) , but it's up into a distinct and rarely visited area, complete with grand terrain and rough, tough riding.
In case you don't know Sarah Point, it's at the NW corner of Malapasina Peninsula, north from Powell River, the nothernmost point of the Sunshine Coast. Sarah Point is also the trailhead, reached by rough road or sea-taxi from Lund, for the Sunshine Coast Trail. The SCT takes hikers 180kms all the way south to Saltery Bay. In 2015, the trail was named by Explore magazine as one of the 50 best hikes in the world. Below is a view from above Sarah Point, looking north into Desolation Sound.
For more details on riding the southern part of the Malaspina Peninsula, north to Lund on paved Hwy 101 (with side trips), check out the companion Malaspina Peninsula fav ride for all.
Looking north across Desolation Sound from just above Sarah Point (it's a brutal track descending to the seaside from here). Kayakers & sailboaters from around the world visit the spectacular remote islands, inlets and bays.
Camp along stunning and rarely visited NW shores of Malaspina Peninsula at Sarah Point (very basic)
Hike portions of the fantastic seaside Sunshine Coast Trail (if you still have the energy after some tough riding). This route intersects the SCT at 2 points
If mean, ugly hills - real steep (16-18%) with lots of loose gravel & stone - are your thing, you'll love some parts of this ride
Ride remote backroads loop (mostly decommissioned) from Sarah Point to the east shores of the Malaspina Peninsula, then back west to return to Lund.
The mill and artificial harbour (see outer perimeter of sunken barges) at old town Powell River. The ride north up the Malaspina Peninsula starts through Powell River.
North from Lund, there's no community to see on maps, and very little in the way of forestry roads. However, talking to locals, it seems there has been recent history of active fishing and forestry.
I was intrigued to learn that about halfway north from Lund to Sarah Point (along a decent though hilly dirt track), there is the exclusive gated community of Bliss Landing, complete with marina. The name seems ike something from a cult, but Wikipedia says it was likely named after an earlier settler, Joe Blissto. At one point there was a cannery.
Much of the area has been logged in the past, and there's signs of fairly recent roads being built. But I only encountered one area with recent felling, and the roads I followed as part of the top "loop" were spiked with regular ditches (now rounded and mostly rideable), which usually means they've been decommissioned.
The north tip, and most of the NE coast of Malaspina is preserved as Malaspina Provincial Park, just established in 2001 - so no roads, and actually riding to reach the coast is tough.
Lund has a fine marina and boardwalk, with restaurants, coffee house and shops. Worth a stop if you want to indulge. Many hikers catch a sea taxi here up to Sarah Point. Some adventurous cycle tourists catch sea taxis over to Cortes Island, off Campbell River, a grand variation of the Vancouver Island Sunshine Coast Loop
Days for Ride:
Starting from Lund, the ride north to Sarah Point, then looping back south via the east coast is only 40+kms. But it is hard, particularly at the north tip. So there several ways to plan this trip:
Do the ride north as a day trip. Camp south (6-7kms) of Lund at Okeover Arm Provincial Park or Dinner Rock Rec Camp, both excellent options, both with hard rides back up from the coast (particularly from Dinner Rock), and in drier times you need to bring your water into Dinner Rock (there's an unreliable tiny creek nearby). A real advantage of this approach is that you don't need to haul your gear north to Sarah Point.
Plan to camp at Sarah Point, and perhaps hike the Sunshine Coast Trail for a stretch along the north shores before returning to camp. The camping options are real basic - tent clearings and fire pits - one right at the trailhead just up from the shores, and another ~50m up and back, a short trail from some nice bluffs looking out over Desolation Sound. There's a small stream in the ditch beside the final descent (at the top) down to Sarah Point: in dry times, bring your water in from an earlier creek crossing.
There is another option, which is to camp along the partially overgrown track at the east end of Bliss Portage right near the east shores of the Peninsula. This is alongside a good creek, and has the advantage of being right near a junction with the Sunshine Coast Trail, so you might meet some company. Warning - in May/June, it can get buggy. Alas, I could not see any camping options right down along the rocky shores.
The seaside at Sarah Point. This shot was taken from along the Sunshine Coast Trail, which roughly parallels the coast. Gorgeous place.
I've set this as Medium due to the shorter distances involved. That said, north from Bliss Landing (the last segments in to Sarah Point) has some VERY steep sections with considerable loose gravel and stone. The loose surface means one has to be very cautious riding down, as well as getting back up. The last few hundred metres descending to the seaside at Sarah Point is particularly challenging (see pics below).
The route loops to the eastern shores from Sarah Point on some logging roads (B1 - see route map below). For much of this stretch, the road has been half-heartedly decommissioned, with ditches dug across the road every few hundred metres (dozens of them). For the most part these ditches are rounded and one can ride through (choose your spot carefully) like a little roller coaster.
The old 'Bliss Portage' track to the east is through a forested area, and looks to be rarely used by vehicle traffic. It's the most fun riding section of this northern loop (pic at bottom).
Some road pics. The 2 top pics, and lower left pic are getting closer to Sarah Point (the lower left is the final stretch down). Bottom right is earlier in the route.
Here's some nearby side trip options to consider:
As noted above, check out the favourite ride for the Malaspina Peninsula. Although the ride to Lund or Okeover Arm is paved, there's some rougher stuff included. Notably, check out the side trip NE past Sliammon Lake (informal camps) to Appleton Creek area, complete with a remote Rec Camp accessible only by trail.
From Powell River, if you like backroads and lakes and great camping, check out the backroads ride into the incredible hinterland NE of Powell River.
I'm a huge fan of riding and camping Texada Island, a half hour ferry hop from Powell River. Texada Island North is a fav ride for all. Texada Island Rough and Texada's NE Bays are both backroads rides.
The Sunshine Coast Trail, looking south, along the NE Malaspina Peninsula. This is ~40m from the east shores of Okeover Arm, where the trail intersects the rough Bliss Portage track that is part of the northern loop of this ride. There's a creek & several setbacks along the track here where one can camp (the stony beach is too rough).
Here's the elevation / distance view:
The ride track starts in Powell River, but this backroads ride really begins in Lund at the end of the paved road. Even getting to Lund involves some hills if you check out one of the recommended camping options at either Okeover Arm or Dinner Rock.
North from Lund, elevation tops out just over 200m, but you can see this is a real up and down stretch. Hills looks crazy steep, but this is partly due to the short distances along the bottom axis. That said, this is a hard climbing ride, made more so as the road surface is often topped with considerable loose gravel and stone. Gradients of 16-18% are common.
Here's the distance & direction guide. Unless you're planning a ride, you'll want to skip this. The track starts at Powell River, though the backroads ride begins as one heads north from Lund, where paved Hwy 101 ends (and a great place to stop for treats).
From Powell River north to Lund is ~28kms. The best camping options are a few kms (~5-7) before Lund, at either Dinner Rock Rec Camp (bring in your own water) or Okeover Arm Provincial Camp. Both of these are along the seaside so there are steep climbs up and out in the morning, particularly from Dinner Rock.
Just before the final descent into Lund harbour, you'll see Finn Bay Road branching to the NE. Take this. After a little over a km, you'll get onto Sarah Point Road to the north. Then up and down and winding for under 9kms to the junction and sign left to the (exclusive, I'm told) gated seaside community (and marina) of Bliss Landing. Another 600m and you'll see a junction east (basic, almost overgrown track) signed for "Bliss Portage": this is important because it is where the northern loop of this ride comes back down to reconnect with the main road north to Sarah Point, roughly paralleling the west shores of Malaspina Peninsula. From here north, the road progressively gets steeper and meaner.
3.5 more tough kms will take you where a rough little track branches NE for the final 700+m descent down to Sarah Point.
From the final junction down to Sarah Point, you'll see the logging road you had been on continues in a westward direction set in from the north coast. After 2+kms, it angles south and after ~1km you'll go past a small lake to the west, and from here start to climb some. Note that along this north and east stretch you'll see the forests just off the road where the boundary of Malaspina Provincial Park, which roughly follows the coast, begins, with the Sunshine Coast Trail inside the park. This connecting loop is not on any of my maps, and I found it by luck. If you want, email me to ask for the GPX track: for more info on GPS devices & file sharing, check out this page.
From the small lake, you'll loop south, east, north (a little) then SE again to descend to the junction with the east end of the Bliss Portage connector (3+kms). You'll just keep to the main track. This road stretch has many ditches dug into it, but you are mostly able to ride through them (down & up!).
I initially missed the Bliss Portage connect heading east (somewhat overgrown) and hit a deadend and had to backtrack. It's 1/2km east to the seaside, with the final portion along a trail, including fording a creek (you'll want to leave your bike behind). You'll also see where the Sunshine Coast Trail crosses (see pic above). I could not see any camping area along the roacky seaside, but one could camp along the final track near the trail crossing.
When you head back west, it is 2kms to the Bliss Portage junction near the turnoff to Bliss Landing. This is the best riding of the whole trip (pic at bottom).
Route Map: North to Sarah Point
This ride starts from Powell River, but the backroads ride really begins as one heads north from Lund, where paved highway 101 ends.
Some sweet riding. This is 'Bliss Portage' from the east coast of the north loop of this ride, back to the west near Bliss Landing.