Gold River at Muchalat Inlet,
In September 2016 I rode the exciting Highway 28 from Campbell River to Gold River, a route considered by many to be one of the most ideal motorcycling roads on Vancouver Island. 100 kilometres of uninterrupted and windy road will take you from Campbell River to the geographic centre of the island. The route takes you through British Columbia’s oldest provincial park, Strathcona. The area is a place of interest for geologists and historians alike as it could be very well the birthplace of Vancouver Island. Once in Gold River, you can admire the view of Muchalat Inlet from the marina or wander the streets of the former pulp and paper mill town, take a day trip to Nootka Sound on board the MV Uchuck III or charter a boat or seaplane for a further adventure along Vancouver Island’s rugged west coast.
I hadn’t mentioned riding from further south on Vancouver Island, but it is what I originally did. And, as most riders will be coming from south of the island, or over on the ferry from the British Columbia mainland, I thought it to be a good starting point for directions to Gold River.
Take Highway 19a if you have the time. Sure you can blast along Highway 19 to make good time at 120 kilometres per hour. But really, if you prefer to savour the coastal route past communities like Fanny Bay and Comox, stopping for a picnic lunch at Oyster Bay Shoreline Park just south of Campbell River, please do. You won’t regret it. It’s the original island highway, and the better one in this motorcyclist’s opinion, allowing you to connect with its character and history much more.
Highway 19a will take you to Campbell River where traffic will slow you down as you pass through town. Roll past the terminal where a ferry takes passengers over to Quathiaski Cove on Quadra Island, to the junction between Highway 19 and Highway 28. Highway 19 north turns into the North Island Route which will take you to Sayward, Woss and Port Hardy.
Continue west along Highway 28, making sure you have enough fuel for at least 100 kilometres in your tank, as the next available fuel station is in the town of Gold River.
Prepare yourself for an ideal two hours of motorcycling.
Carmanah Walbran Provincial Park,
In June 2013 I rode to the Carmanah Valley with friend Matthew Sell. Seeing the valley for myself was something I’d wanted to do since I first saw headlines in newspapers of conflict between an environmentalist group and a forestry company in the late 1980s. This was to do with a disagreement to with the future of the old growth forest in the Carmanah Valley. What I found there greatly exceeded my expectations, a beautiful natural environment that was worth the challenging journey necessary to get there. Be aware that the gravel roads on the route to Carmanah are active forestry roads and forestry trucks have right of way.
To get to the park, head west along Highway 18, follow the South Shore Road by Cowichan Lake. The gravel forestry road begins here, follow it to Nitinat Junction and turn left. This will have you following Carmanah Main, which will become Rosander Main not long after. You will climb switchbacks around the base of Mount Rosander and arrive at the parking lot for Carmanah Walbran Provincial Park. There are first-come, first-served tent pads there. There is also a trailhead that leads downwards into the valley to view some of the oldest and tallest Sitka spruce and hemlock Canada has to offer. Enjoy the adventure…