Tsable Lake

A Favourite Camping Spot

Tsable Lake is one of those 1,000m high altitude lakes, this time in the Beaufort Range SW of Courtenay & Cumberland, with steep crater like slopes. It makes for a special environment, as sound & air behave just a little different. It means snows may be around until June. The lake is a fair size, with the Tsable River flowing out east to the ocean. It is not a campsite like most, as tenting options are basically anywhere you like around the shoreline, or into the trees. You'll see fire pits along the shores where the trail comes down. I had the lake to myself when last I visited, & it was something.  

 

It's also in my Courtenay backyard.

Tsable Lake fav campground | Beaufort Range SW of Courtenay | bikepacking Vancouver Island

Camping along shores of Tsable Lake - with the whole lake to myself. I walked a ways around the lake, and saw occasional signs of camping along the way.

Getting to Tsable Lake is half the fun. Of course it's a good sharp climb. Start in Cumberland (satellite village to SW of Courtenay, & a famous mountain biking hub). It's ~20kms up to the lake, mostly along 'TRM' (Trent River Main). There may be a gate (everything was open when I visited), and there could be logging (bring dust mask or bandana in hot dry summer). There are a few junctions that start to look much the same, so a GPS map is a good idea.

 

See photos to get a sense of the steep, crater-like slopes down to the lakeside. There may be a better way, but the only route down I could find was via an almost overgrown trail that was steep and rough - I left my bike locked to a tree above and hauled gear about 1/2km down (see lower photo).  

See the steep slopes down to Tsable Lake, and the outlet to the east for the Tsable River. This was a hard lake to get down to, and I had to leave my bike at the top and haul the gear down. It's possible there's a better route down, but I could not find it.

Tsable Lake camp | Beaufort Range SW of Courtenay | bikepacking Vancouver Island

See the Favourite Rides section for more on this, but another thing I enjoyed about this visit was that, after leaving Tsable Lake I descended down (way down!) to the SE corner of Comox Lake via an old switchback track that looks to have been kept open by some adventurous quadders. It was mostly too rough to ride until the lower stretches, but a very pleasing connection to have work out.  

Tsable Lake camp | Beaufort Range SW of Courtenay | bikepacking Vancouver Island

Hauling my gear down to the shores of Tsable Lake. This proved too steep and rough, so I left my bike locked to a tree up above.  

Riding route into Tsable Lake
Location & route map | Tsable Lake Camp | bikepacking SW from Courtenay

This is the (easy to miss) start of the access track from the road above the lake, down to the shores of Tsable Lake. You'll need to have a sharp eye to make sure you don't miss it.

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