Texada Island North
Fav ride for all
Known to many as 'The Rock', Texada is the largest of the Gulf Islands in the Strait of Georgia. It's 50kms long and 10kms wide. It's accessible via a 20 minute ferry hop from Powell River to Blubber Bay at the north tip.
I enjoy riding & camping Texada so much that I've got 3 favourite rides:
this one is for all riders, focusing on the more developed north of the Island where the roads are better - and you have some incredible seaside camping options
2 Fav backroads rides. Texada Island Rough takes rough backroads south down the rugged spine of the Island to Anderson Bay. Texada's Hidden NE Bays explores some fine, remote seaside camping options along the backroads of the NE island.
This ride offers you several options. You can stick to paved roads all the way, or you can try out a couple of well travelled dirt road sections to see a few more spots. This is not a ride for those who want to put in a lot of kilometres - rather, it's a chance to get in a ride, then chill out for some seaside Island time a little off the beaten path.
And just in case you get confused between Shelter Point and Shelter Bay - Shelter Point Regional Campground is in Shelter Bay Regional Park.
Taking a break at Gillies Bay, on the way to Shelter Point Regional Campground. We're looking west here, across to the mountains of the Beaufort Range on Vancouver Island.
Island vibe. Texada has had a colourful past that gives it personality to this day
With a population of over 1,000, and 3 ferry connections to get there from Vancouver, there's no bustle. Traffic is limited ... in other words, perfect for cycle tourists.
Top: Arriving at Shelter Point Regional Campground. A big, full facility park, with hiking trails. Showers, power, even a canteen in season. Bottom: endless pebbled beach, along west & north shores of park.
Texada Island is part of traditional Tla'amin First nation land. They call the island Say yeh yeen.
History has been colourful, with an outsized cast of characters. Starting in the latter 1800s, mining was a cornerstone of Texada. First iron ore, then copper and gold (!), then marble. Today, there are 3 active limestone quarries. As these mines carve out hillsides and are near the north ferry terminal, they can give new arrivals an industrial first impression. But Texada is big, and once you start south, the natural charms take over.
Around 1898, the town of Van Anda was a boomtown, boasting the only opera house north of San Francisco, and three hotels with saloons, a hospital, and more. During US prohibition, Texada had a reputation for illegal distilleries.
More recently, Texada has shared in the the Gulf Island trend of new residents showing up, many of them artisans or seeking an alternate lifestyle.
Early homesteaders carved farms out of the rough land, some still active today. There are 2 modest villages - Van Anda and Gillies Bay (Blubber Bay, the former whaling station that now has the ferry terminal, doesn't quite qualify).
Blubber Bay BC ferry terminal at the north tip of the island. In behind, see one of the remaining Island limestone mines. Coming off the ferry, be ready for a good little climb to get you off and running
As noted above, there's several route options you can consider on this Texada North ride. See the route map below to help visualize. The straightforward ride to the east coast of the island and Shelter Point Regional Campground, is to just take the paved road SE from Van Anda. You could head back the same way.
There's 2 side trip options you can consider, that involve getting off onto some maintained dirt backroads for stretches:
from Van Anda, you could take dirt Central High Road, which loops a little north and west of the paved route. It involves a climb up to ~250m, and is ~3 kms longer thamn the dirst paved road option to Shelter Bay. If you take this option, you can ride a loop on the paved road on your way back to the ferry terminal
from just south of Shelter Bay, there's a ~12 kms dirt track south (a little bumpy, and climbing to ~140m, but decently maintained), roughly following the coast, to Shingle Beach Rec Camp (see pic below). There's limited facilities, but it is beautiful, and I've met interesting folks when I stayed at Shingle Beach.
Central High Road - the NE dirt road option to get to Shelter Bay. It's a little hillier, a little further and a little bumpier than taking paved Gillies Bay Road from Van Anda. But it's also a fine ride with almost no traffic.
Days for Ride:
This ride starts and finishes at the BC Ferries terminal at Blubber Bay on the north tip of Texada. That means that one needs to get to Powell River for the ferry to start with. Coming from Courtenay, I took the early 630 ferry to Powell River in time for a relaxed 830 connection on to Texada. I was riding by just after 9am.
The direct paved route from Blubber Bay terminal to Shelter Point Regional Campground is 23kms.
This ride can easily be done as an overnighter, even roping in ferry time. But try to spend an extra day or two at Shelter Point and/or Shingle Beach, just to kick back. And take a little time to poke around Van Anda and Gillies Bay - maybe a beer and lunch.
Moderate. Distances are short on this ride. So, even though the roads are hilly (be ready for a succession of little climbs), I've rated this as moderate.
If you take the paved route all the way, your elevation only climbs up to ~150m. If you take the Central High loop to Shelter Bay, you'll climb to nearly 250m - a good workout, but nothing really daunting.
The fabulous beach at Shingle Beach Rec Camp. It's big (~30 sites) and has a fine alternate vibe. Nightly fees are $5, based on an honour system. There's a clear stream about 1/3km down the beach from where this photo was taken where you can water up. They have a July music festival.
Here's some nearby side trip options to consider:
Coming from Powell River means you'll be starting and finishing this ride on the north Sunshine Coast. Check out the favourite ride for the Malaspina Peninsula, as well as the backroads ride into the incredible hinterland NE of Powell River.
Some might be interested in a rougher backroads ride down to the south end of Texada. If so, check out this companion Fav backroads ride.
Photo from an earlier ride when I camped at Shelter Point. This was the end of March, and the central Island backroads were still snowed under. Even at coastal Shelter Point, winter was still holding sway
Here's the elevation / distance view:
This includes the NE Central High (dirt) Road loop from Van Anda to Shelter Point. It does not include the 12km ride further south to Shingle Beach, which reaches up to 140m on the way.
By taking Central High Road, we get a climb up to nearly 250m. As this climb stretches over 5kms, it is mostly gradual. Then you get to bomb down to the coast.
Coming back from Gillies Bay involves a climb as well, but only up to ~150m. You can choose to ride this both ways out to Shelter Point if you prefer to stay on pavement. The 9km ride from Blubber Bay Terminal to Van Anda is also hilly, including a climb right out of the gates.
But distances on this ride are modest.
A little more Island character, along Gillies Bay Road. Perhaps there's some sort of message here ....
Here's the distance & direction guide. Unless you're planning a ride, you'll likely want to skip this section.
The ride starts and finishes at Blubber Bay in the north. Coming off the ferry just follow the road (Blubber Creek Road) for ~9kms to the junction where you'll turn left into Van Anda on Gillies Bay Road (turn right if you prefer to stick to the paved route straight west to Gillies Bay).
As you can see in the map below, from Van Anda, I rode a loop out to Shelter Point and back. Once down in Van Anda, follow Midas Road east (up & down) for 1/2kms+ to where it turns into Wall Street at the edge of town. Wall Street shortly turns into a hard pack dirt road, and a while later morphs into Central High Road: follow it E/SE for 15 rolling kms to the 3 way intersection with Bell Road and Shelter Point Road (paved). Head south on paved Shelter Point for a sweet 4km descent to the junction heading left onto unpaved Mouat Bay Road out to Shingle Beach Rec Camp further south down the west coast (a riding option discussed above). Just stay on Shelter Point Road and you'll shortly reach Shelter Bay Park boundary and the junction NW onto Harwood Point Road to the Campground and then Gillies Bay.
To return from Shelter Point on the more northern paved route, follow Harwood Point along the coast for nearly 4kms to Gilles Bay where the road bends left just before you'll take a right turn north onto Gillies Bay Road. Keep on Gillies Bay Road up and down for 11+kms to the junction just before Van Anda where you'll turn left back onto Blubber Creek Road, which takes you to the Blubber Bay ferry terminal.
Route Map: Texada Island North
This ride starts from the Blubber Bay Ferry Terminal at the north tip of Texada Island. There are regular ferries to and from Westview terminal in Powell River.
One more pic from Shingle Beach to finish up. This is from the bluffs at the north end of the campsite. That's Lasqueti Island you see across the waters.