Saturday, 25 June 2016

Biking around Puntledge River in Courtenay provides scenic river views

by Keith and Heather Nicol
     For anyone looking for a perfect mountain bike tour in the Comox Valley you couldn’t do much better than the loop around the Puntledge River, just west of Courtenay.  It is suited to a wide range of riders from kids to seniors and involves trails that are generally smooth with few hills or tricky descents. You could do this loop from a variety of starting points and in the past we have ridden this loop right from Courtenay but in this case we started from the Duncan Bay Main road near Stoten Falls. Fellow biker Norm Reynolds initially showed me this trail earlier this year but on this day Cliff Haylock was keen to see it so he accompanied me. We parked at 10U 0351669E and 5505112N and we followed the gravel road next to the pipeline. 

The first part of the route is on a gravel ride that parallels a pipeline
 You need to duck your bike past some gates in a couple of places but otherwise you can stay on your bike for just about the entire ride. Part way along the route jogs to the left and the trail narrows at the dam. From here the route follows the river and becomes more interesting as the smooth trail winds around through the tall trees. There are short bridges across small streams and then it arrives at the bridge which crosses the Puntledge River at Comox Lake. 
Much of the middle part of the trail winds along the river
  Just after the bridge look for a small trail which cuts right off the gravel road and this leads to a nice park with picnic tables. Again follow the trail next to the river and you are in for a nice winding flowing trail all the way to Nymph Falls Park. Once at the park we headed to the Forbidden Plateau paved road and followed it back to Duncan Bay Main road where our car was parked. Over all the distance according to our GPS was about 18 km and it took us about 90 minutes with a few stops for pictures. This makes this scenic loop an ideal morning or afternoon bike trip. The trail does have a few choices but if take the trail along the river you should be fine.
There is a small park at the upper dam at Comox Lake.  This is the halfway point.


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