Parksville & Qualicum
Local Bike Maps & Off-Highway Paved Route Options
This page is in the heart of the popular cycling route up the central east coast of Vancouver Island, along the old coastal highway, between Nanaimo and Courtenay. There's fine riding with lots of services and diversions along the way. Check out some of the routes and camping options on this area page.
In addition to Parksville and Qualicum, seaside towns with great sandy beaches, there are also a few tinier satellite spots a little further north, like Qualicum Bay or Bowser. This is a page I need to grow over time, so it's pretty basic to start. Contributions from visitors to the site would be welcome.
Most cycle tourists in this area ride the old coastal highway, but some ride the wide shoulders of the big inland highway. Even the coastal highway can get a good amount of traffic, so getting off on local roads can be a relaxing treat, and a chance to get some local flavour.
Here's the sections you'll find below, with links should you want to jump straight into a section:
Seaside walk-way in downtown Parksville. Like many such coastal towns, once you get off the highway, things get a whole lot nicer.
PQ Links Trail (Parksville - Qualicum links)
Well - I should have anticipated this. 13.5kms long. Here's what it says in the top right corner of the map:
The low-traffic road route (with a bit of paved trail) that lets you cycle, run, walk or roll between Parksville and Qualicum Beach, via French Creek, without having to use the Highway.
I couldn't gave said it better! Although I have not yet actually ridden this (will change that soon), this looks straight forward enough to encourage cycle tourists to give it a go. You can click on the map below, or the title of this mini-section, to jump directly to the source map.
The map below was put out by the Parksville & District Chamber of Commerce. Parksville is a popular destination just north from the spot where the Island Highway splits into the newer Inland Highway (big!) and the slower moving, local coastal highway (older and smaller; usually recommended for cycle tourists).
We can see the PQ Links Trail into Qualicum Beach (see above map). We can see where the PQ Links Trail (see above map) starts on Stanford Avenue near the Parksville Community & Conference Centre.
There's also a number of other recommended bike routes, on both sides of the coastal highway, that you may want to check out. I think the PQ Lilnk Trail north to Qualicum Beach is on the top of my list to check out.
You can click on the map below, or the above title of this mini section if you'd like to go directly to the source map.
The map and directions below are also part of the Nanaimo page - an off highway route suggestion north from Nanaimo into Parksville. You'll have to imagine doing this in reverse, Parksville to Nanaimo, for this page.
North from Nanaimo (see map below)
The City of Nanaimo Bicycle Map shows a good off-highway route to start north through Nanaimo, but it doesn't go all the way out to Lantzville. So, from the city map, starting at Departure Bay ferry terminal:
* outside the terminal, take the right up the hill (~1km)
* keep on Departure Bay Road, which angles right above coast for ~2kms
* Departure Bay becomes Hammond Bay Rd (pretty busy artery, but with shoulders most of the way), which you'll follow north then west for almost 10kms until the junction with Uplands, where you'll turn right
Hammond Bay is a busy arterial route, though with decent space for cyclists. I have ridden this route. The Nanaimo city bike map suggests another route I have not yet tried. Rather than turn onto Hammond Bay, stay on Departure Bay Road when it angles left/inland for 2+kms to junction with Uplands Road, where you'll turn right. Then just stick on Uplands for 5+kms to the junction with Dover (past the junction with Hammond Bay), where you'll turn left.
* under a km will get you to Dover Rd where you'll turn left. Under a km on Dover, then turn right on Dickinson Road
* follow Dickinson 2+km (near seaside), then right onto Lantzville Road
* Lantzville Road 3.5kms, then right at Y junction onto big highway
* you've now got an unavoidable 6km stretch on the highway until the junction after Nanoose Bay, with a gas station and store at the turnoff right/north. Thankfully, this is a nice, breezy seaside stretch with big wide shoulders.
North into Parksville from the south
* the turn-off right/north after Nanoose Bay is onto Northwest Bay Road. Wonderfully it loops and winds its way, almost 10kms into the south end of the Parksville & the Old Island Highway, which branched off from the big Highway only about a km south.
* from where you rejoin the old highway, you are about 1.5kms south of the turnoff to Rathtrevor Provincial Park (Honourable mention Fav campground -usually booked in summer). From there just keep north into Parksville town centre.
The map below was put out by the Qualicum Beach Chamber of Commerce Visitor Centre in 2015. The community centre of Qualicum Beach is actually set back from the old highway and seaside strip some, up a good little hill: so, some local routes are useful if you want to check out the village.
We can see the PQ Links Trail into Qualicum Beach (above). There are also a few other roads called out as cycling routes: Sunrise Drive & Fern Road, Laburnum Road Bypass, Rupert Road and Pintail Drive.