Cycle Touring Port Alberni
Area Rides & Campgrounds
Port Alberni is one of the great riding hubs, with incredible natural beauty and riding opportunities. With its location at the eastern end of Alberni Inlet, it was an historical resource centre, with ocean-going ships plying deep into the rugged interior of central Vancouver Island.
This riding area offers great rides in all directions: east to Parksville and the east coast of Vancouver Island; E/SE up into the high mountains around Arrowsmith & Moriarty; west out to Tofino, with the big waves & endless surf of the west coast; S/SW to Bamfield, Nitinat Lake or Cowichan Lake; NE to Horne Lake and the east coast; and, NW to Great Central and Comox Lakes. Scattered throughout are countless lakes, rivers, coastal stretches and camping options to check out.
View east, past several stunning carved First Nations poles, into town from Victoria Quay Park along the Somass River at the west of town. The City of Port Alberni boundary lies within the traditional territories of the Hupacasath and Tseshaht First Nations
A different type of cycling load, here in Tofino, a wonderful international travel destination out along the wild west coast (see Fav ride). If you like endless sand and surf, or just meeting travellers from all around the world, check out Tofino. Even in winter, it's an attraction for storm walkers and watchers.
Below is a summary map, with buttons for all Port Alberni area rides and campgrounds. The boundaries with Cowichan to the SE or Courtenay to the north are pretty fuzzy, so some rides will turn up in both. Look closely and you'll see that 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 Port Alberni 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.
Port Alberni Area Rides (blue buttons):
Alberni Inlet Nahmint Lake Loop. Backroads ride. SW from Port Alberni.
Bamfield Highway. Honourable Mention rides - backroads. SW from Port Alberni.
Carmanah Walbran. Honourable Mention rides - backroads. South from Port Alberni.
Cowichan Lake Nitinat Port Alberni. Backroads ride. SE from Port Alberni.
Horne Lake Port Alberni Wheel. Backroads ride. NE from Port Alberni
Labour Day Lake Museum Main Port Alberni. Backroads ride. SE from Port Alberni.
Tofino & Wild West Coast. Fav ride for all. Tofino area
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
Port Alberni Area Campgrounds (green buttons):
- Green Point Campground. Fav campground. Tofino area.
- Labour Day Lake Rec Camps. Fav campground. SE from Port Alberni.
- Nitinat Lake Rec Camp. Fav campground. SW from Port Alberni.
- Nitinat River Informal Camps. Honourable Mention camp. SE from Port Alberni.
- Snow Creek Rec Camp (West Sproat Lake cluster). Honourable Mention camp. West from Port Alberni.
- Stamp River Provincial Campground. Honourable Mention camp. NW from Port Alberni.
- Toy Lake Camp. Fav camp. NW of Port Alberni.
Beautiful spot along the Ash River, near Dickson Lake, NW of Port Alberni. There's a real attractive informal Rec camping option near here.
Looking south down on Port Alberni from up along Beaufort Range track. On this trip, I was coming to Port Alberni via backroads from West Horne Lake. You can see the northern tip of Alberni Inlet and if you look closely (about the middle), you'll see the stack of the pulp mill.
Port Alberni has a population of close to 20,000. It has a sometimes deserved reputation for a rainier climate than the east coast of Vancouver Island. As the logging industry has fallen on tougher times, the town has gone through some rough days. It's something of an outdoors destination, though some travellers along the one paved road in, Highway 4 from Parksville/Qualicum, are on their way out to Tofino and the wild west coast (see Fav ride out to Tofino).
JUNE 2018 ADD-ON: I took my parents up to visit historical Mclean Mill, just NW of Port Alberni, where the Beaufort Range backroads route comes down from Horne Lake to the NE (check out a few photos and comments on our visit). There's a fine-looking new campground there, and to top it all off, you can take a classic train (~1/2 hour) back & forth from the port area in downtown Port Alberni.
But Port Alberni has always been a favourite destination and hub of mine, due to the incredible variety of great rides and great wilderness destinations at hand. I think of it (along with Cowichan Lake) as a southern heart of the Island.
Catalyst Mill, still in business, allong the Somass River, long an economic foundation of Port Alberni. In the foreground, a search and rescue boat. From the west end of town, along Pacific Rim Highway out to Tofino