Sunday, 3 July 2016

Hornby Island has scenic mountain bike trails to test all levels

By Keith and Heather Nicol
     On our most recent trip to Hornby Island in late June 2016 we also wanted to explore the extensive mountain bike trails that are found in Mount Geoffrey Park. We saw lots of vehicles on the ferry to Hornby with different kinds of bikes strapped to the back or roof and even four people who planned to explore Hornby Island exclusively by bicycle. Our own vehicle was weighted down with 2 kayaks, camping gear, hiking boots and mountain bikes .  We had previously visited Hornby Island in early September 2015 and had biked many of the main roads and side roads but this time the focus was going to be the trails that have been built on Mount Geoffrey. Be sure to get a Hornby Island Trailmap which has over 40 trails identified and where the main access points are for these trails. 
Starting out on the Ford Cove- Shingle Spit trail-a great intro trail for a variety of ages
 On Tuesday, June 28th we were joined by a fellow cyclist Norm Reynolds from Courtenay for part of our stay and our first explorations were on the trails off of the Strachan Road access. We used Northwind to climb uphill and it is evidently a commonly used route for ascending. From there we branched on to Cold Deck which is also classed as a beginner trail. Our route down included Slalom to Far Side which were fun twisting descents.  Then it was left on Purgatory to Mr Toads Wild Ride which was certainly more difficult and rated as intermediate. Tadpole (classed as easier) dumped us back onto Northwind for a fun and fast descent to our car. We found locating ourselves fairly easy since most trails were marked at intersections and there was the occasional map of all the trails. Nevertheless we found ourselves pulling out the Trailmap frequently to make sure we knew where we were. We also explored the first part of Bike Fest dual which passes along the edge of agricultural lands providing different views from the mainly forested views we encountered on these trails.

Norm riding up Northwind amidst the tall trees
    On other days we also got a chance to ride a range of other trails and we would recommend the Ford Cove to Shingle Spit trail for a fast fun 3 km ride that will take about 20 minutes to do (1 way)  . This trail is suited to a wide range of riders and it provides nice water views of Lambert Channel through the trees. We also recommend the very scenic Middle Bench Trail (3 km – 1 way) which can be accessed off of Euston Road. This trail gives amazing vistas of Denman Island and the Beaufort Mountains of Vancouver Island and although it is rated as easy it is harder than the Ford Cove –Shingle Spit trail. The final trails we had a chance to test out were the Outer Ridge – Summit trails rated as intermediate and easy respectively. Outer Ridge is another spectacular trail with stunning views and we suggest inexperienced riders (like us) ride it up and take Summit down since there are several places along the ridge where a fall or miss-step could be very serious and this is more likely on a descent rather than riding uphill. It took us about 1 hour to do this loop back to our car at Euston Road. For some reason in this part of the Park very few trails are sign posted and you need to rely almost entirely on the Trailmap to figure out where you are. Also we were struck by the fact that we saw no other cars at the trailheads and no other riders on the trails. Not sure why this was since these trails are well worth checking out. See for more information.

Both Middle Bench and Outer Ridge offer awesome views of Lambert Channel and beyond


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