Bikepacking the Lower Sunshine Coast
Skyler Des Roches
This route loosely follows Stages 3 and 4 of the world-famous BC Bike Race, for that same “ultimate singletrack experience” without the mayhem and expense of an organized event. Since we’ve ridden the opposite direction as the race route, there are some deviations to keep climbs rideable, and descents exciting. Nowhere else have I found extensive wood-work stunts, and purpose-built trails on a bikepacking route. The result is a two or three day ride consisting of great mountain biking through heavy forest. The route passes through the town of Sechelt at around half-way, making resupply and logistics easy. The riding, however, is heavy with proper, technical mountain biking. The result is a great intro to bikepacking for those coming from a mountain biking background, wanting to try a one or two night ride.
75 Mi.(121 KM)
% Rideable (time)
- Must Know
- Classic ‘north shore’ style riding on trails like Ripped Nipple, Eldorado, and Hwy 103 (it’s a trail name, not a highway).
- The type of loamy, organic trails that made BC a famous mountain biking destination.
- Riding past huge, old-growth Douglas-fir trees on Hwy 102 and 4D.
- Swimming in Chapman Creek and Crowston Lake.
- Coffee and/or brunch in Sechelt.
- The difficulty rating is 5, but you must be able to ride blue/black rated mountain bike trails.
- You can find GPS files of the BC Bike Race stages, as well a many trails in the Lower Sunshine Coast region on Trailforks.com.
- There is no GPS basemap that includes the full trail network, but the Ibicus (free) Canadian Topo map, Garmin Topo Canada, or the Backroads Mapbook GPS Map, will provide topographic info, lake locations, and many creeks. Use Trailforks to build an overlay of the mountain bike trails.
- There is no public bus service to Earls Cove at the north end of this route. Once a day, the Sunshine Coach bus travels from Powell River, on the Upper Sunshine Coast, to Langdale, via Earls Cove. It is apparently possible to flag it down Earls Cove.
- Otherwise, hitchhike or ride 39km south along Highway 101 to Halfmoon Bay, from where public bus service will deliver you back to Langdale (for $2.25). There is space for two bikes in the bike rack.
- Wild camping is possible a few kilometers outside of towns.
- There are hotels and established campgrounds in Sechelt, which is at about the halfway mark.
- There is an excellent established Forest Service campground at Klein Lake, just south of Earls Cove, and another at Big Tree Rec Site, about 10km north of Sechelt.
- This ride can be completed with no camping (or cooking) at all, if you opt to complete it in two days, staying and dining in Sechelt.
- Sechelt offers an array of supermakets, liquor stores, and restaurants at about the halfway mark.
- A small cafe-restaurant at Earls Cove offers cold drinks and nice meals at the northern terminus of this route.
- If you have time to kill before catching the ferry back to Vancouver from Langdale, choose from some nice restaurants in the quaint sea-side village of Gibsons Landing, a 5km from the ferry terminal.