Vancouver Island Bikepacking Route

Click on image for interactive map and GPS track...

Click on image for interactive map and GPS track…

I live on a sweet mid-sized island off Canada’s West Coast. I’ve been here 5yrs and wanted to bikepack it to see the sights and have a easy access bike camping alternative out my door since living on an island everything is an expensive flight or ferry to get to.

Bikepacking is just starting to become a thing here and any old-timey epic bike tours were not documented well enough to survive the decay of time so a bunch of friends and I started putting something together.

Hombres at the Cape Scott Park start...

Hombres at the Cape Scott Park start…

We’ve got a boat load of logging roads on the island, but what’s on the map and what’s on-the-ground are two different things. Especially in the south island it was a challenge to find a way through to the mid-island with geography and development blocking the obvious choices. After a bunch of on the ground recon, internet searching and Google Earth fly throughs we had a route worked out.

Last week we completed the first full ride through from Cape Scott in the North-West down to Victoria in the South-East. ~850kms & 12,590m climbing [531miles & 41,300′] in 7.5 days of riding.

The route is all GDR/TD style logging roads. However, you will pass through 4 towns with amazing trail networks should you want to drop the camping gear and spend a couple days shredding while reloading on beer and pizza!

The famous shoe tree...

The famous shoe tree…

It was great to see the island from my bike saddle. Especially the north end which was the most remote and where I have spent the least amount of time. I made many mental notes of places I wanted to come back and explore with more time and possibly my fly rod!

I’ll post a trip report and all the usual info here over the next few days as I get my pics processed.

Maxing and relaxing BC style...

Maxing and relaxing BC style…

I appreciate all the hard work people put into building trails and creating routes. Nothing here is really unique or something I created with my own hands, but at the very least I can curate the info for the bikepacking community so somebody from another part of the world can swing by my lovely island and take a rip without route finding hassles.

I live in Victoria, BC so anyone who wants to ride this route can lean on me for up to date info and logistic support. If my GF is in a good mood you can setup a tent in my backyard and grab a shower/use my bike tools.

My trusty Surly Krampus at the end of the ride. :)

My trusty Surly Krampus at the end of the ride. 🙂

26 thoughts on “Vancouver Island Bikepacking Route

  1. Hey Vik, enjoyed the ride report. Planning a tour on VI starting July 17th and wanted to reach out and ask some questions. Can we talk?

  2. Hi Vik. Came across your blog after typing the magic worlds “bikepacking” and “Vancouver Island”. We´ve got about 5 days to do a short “introductory” trip to the island, departing from and returning to Vancouver. Most obvious would be to do Nanaimo, then link up to your route, then South towards Victoria for the ride back to Vancouver. If you had some time, it´d be great to hear what section(s) you would recommend as well as possibilities to re-stock while en route. Many thanks and hopefully will be able to do the whole thing one day…

  3. I’m jonesing out for your writeup. What an epic trip. Wow! PLEASE POST IT!!!

  4. Awesome — was just up there for a trip — went from Victoria to Bamfield (favorite section), ferried up to Port Alberni and then over to Ucluelet/Tofino to check it out (cool area, did not love the roads!). Great to be out there — though fires and heat wave were a bit rough!

    • @Aurora – glad you had a good trip. I think taking the ferry to Ucluelet could be a good option to avoid the road in. I haven’t tried that yet, but want to give it a go.

  5. excellent report, great read.

    i was just wondering, does your gpx track for this route go through the gate before sooke or did you take the non-ninja way this time?

    keep up the good work. cheers!

  6. Question: how did you get up to Cape Scott? Is there a ferry up that way from Victoria? (Looking to do some bikepacking on the Island sans auto support). Thanks!

    • Without a car you can ride to Cape Scott, hitch or take a shuttle from Port Hardy. You can ride to PH, hitch hike or take a bus from Victoria.

      There is no ferry to Cape Scott.

  7. Hey Vic, a little behind the season, but I’m looking into a gravel route that connects Vic to Tofino and back, and was wondering if I could pick your brain about navigating the Carmanah/Franklin roads between Cowichan Lake and Port Alberni. Thanks for posting this report!

    • Sure Patrick. I just sent you an email.

      • I too would be interested in reaching Tofino via back roads from Nanaimo or Victoria.

      • Alberto – you can use my Victoria to Port Alberni bikepacking route then get on a water taxi/ferry from PA to Ucuelet [when it runs in season]. If the water taxi is not running you’ll have to ride the highway. I don’t know of another way to get from PA to Tofino.

        From Nanimo to PA you can try this route:

        It’s not mine so I can’t tell you how good it is.

  8. Hi Vic, my name is Joe and have been studying your VI bikepacking route. I am planning on doing this ride this summer. I rode the Divide Mountain Bike Route in 2016 and want to do a ride closer to home (Victoria). I have a few questions; How did you navigate the maze of logging roads? Did you use local backroad maps? Do you have waypoints that I could use? Any advice would be very helpful.
    Joe Z.

      • Thanks for getting back to me Vik, that is what I was going to do, can it be downloaded to my Garmin? I am technically challenged as my kids can attest. I downloaded all the waypoints for my Divide ride and I was about a third way into it before I figured out how to access it. At least I had good maps and only got off track once up to that point. In any case I really enjoyed your narrative and it has inspired me to do the ride from Cape Scott to Victoria. Now all I have to do is recruit a riding partner or two.
        Thanks again.

      • Yes it can be downloaded to a Garmin.

        1. download GPX file to your computer from that link I posted
        2. upload GPX into Garmin Basecamp software on your computer
        3. connect the Garmin to the computer
        4. upload the GPX file to your Garmin
        5. disconnect the Garmin from the computer
        6. open “Track Manager” you should see the file name there….click on it and select “show on map”
        7. you should have a line on your screen that is the route you can follow

        If you live in Victoria you can come to my place with your GPS and I can load it for you if you can’t get it done on your own.

  9. Yes I live in Victoria, I’ll give it a go. Thank you very much. I’ll let you know how it goes. Cheers.

  10. hi Vik-
    i’d like to do this route in july ’19. my preferred touring bike is a vintage trek 520 with 42mm schwalbe mondial tires, 48/36/22 chainring paired with a 13-34 cassette. i’m wondering whether this is enough bike for this route?
    thanks so m,uch

    • I did a very similar route this past summer on a drop bar bike with 45mm WTB tires and mostly had no troubles. I ran a 2x drivetrain and was wishing for an extra climbing gear once or twice but overall it was enough.

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