Suggestions for a visit to the island

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NBratton
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Suggestions for a visit to the island

#1 Post by NBratton » Sun Jan 21, 2018 3:12 pm

Hi Roverlanders, I'm thinking of coming up to Vancouver Island next summer. Never been, looking forward to seeing its natural beauty. I'm leaning towards taking the ferry up from Port Angeles, then heading west. I'd appreciate some suggestions for places to go and routes to consider that are out of the way. I'll be in a close-to-stock Disco 1 and might bring a RRC along. It would be great to find some trails to drive if there are any, as well as remote camp spots. Total trip time would probably be about a week. Thanks.

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Re: Suggestions for a visit to the island

#2 Post by andrewd » Mon Jan 22, 2018 12:40 pm

I would suggest taking a drive up West Coast Road from Sooke to Port Renfrew. There is a nice pub with good food for lunch. From Sooke you should take the scenic route over the mountain to Lake Cowichan. Along the way there are lots of small roads that lead high up into the forested area; some fun for the Disco (even a stock one) and lots of great views and photo opportunities. There are some decent camp sites as well if you are interested in that. Have fun!
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Re: Suggestions for a visit to the island

#3 Post by rgallant » Sun Feb 25, 2018 5:14 pm

Not meaning to hijack this thread, but how doable is it to travel for the north tip down along the west side. Along time ago you could cover a lot of that on FSR's. It is that still possible or it is pretty closed off, gates, decommissioned roads etc ?
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Re: Suggestions for a visit to the island

#4 Post by HeadDamage » Sun Feb 25, 2018 6:27 pm

West coast of island would require a boat. Most of it has no road access.

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Re: Suggestions for a visit to the island

#5 Post by Rob » Mon Feb 26, 2018 7:36 am

The west side of the island is broken-up by many long inlets and most of the FS and private roads are in an east-west orientation. It is possible to work along some of the west coast (trips out to San Joseph, Winter Harbour, Thasis, etc. ) but it involves a lot of back-tracking to the east side of the island where there are north-south routes. Lots of nice drives up there and places to go, just no continuous west-side route unless you're going by boat (which has it's own problems). The back-roads amp book does a decent job of showing the island roads (many are gated, especially in the south).

Regards, Rob

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Re: Suggestions for a visit to the island

#6 Post by rgallant » Mon Feb 26, 2018 3:51 pm

Thanks Rob and Headdamage for your replies. I need to be more precise I was aware of the road situation as Rob put it, as far the east/west in order to go north/south.

My concern was how gated/closed roads are things are sort of from mid island to the north end, my last trip was using military style topo maps around 35 yeas ago. But I will get a backroads map book and ask some specific questions in my own thread.

Thanks again
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Re: Suggestions for a visit to the island

#7 Post by Mohan » Mon Feb 26, 2018 6:50 pm

I rode the TCAT from Cumberland to Cape Scott last year on my motorcycle. Most of it is doable in a 4 wheeler.
Details here:
https://www.graveltravel.ca/index.php?o ... nd&catid=1

If you email the website they will send you a current GPS route/file.
Like others have stated, you end up going back and forth across the island a lot. The route I rode only touched pavement when crossing the highway for a gas station. It was almost entirely gravel. All the gates I encountered on the route were open. I met a lot of logging equipment along the route - including 'FAT trucks' operating in the Holberg area.
It's all very beautiful and there's lots to see. I'd do it again. :)
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Re: Suggestions for a visit to the island

#8 Post by franko » Mon Feb 26, 2018 7:54 pm

Wow that was a great read, thanks for sharing.
I’ll definitely be putting this on my list of adventures.

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Re: Suggestions for a visit to the island

#9 Post by island dormy » Tue Feb 27, 2018 6:40 am

Hello

If you come to the Island June 8,9 and 10th 2018 we will be having our 16th annual Land Rover Rally in the Valley.
New location this year, free camping, great people and lots of Land rovers. All the details will be coming near the end of March.

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Re: Suggestions for a visit to the island

#10 Post by Tugela » Sat Apr 07, 2018 8:11 am

Thanks for all the recommendations, this has given me plenty to consider. The dates of my trip will be June 30 - July 6.

Will be starting and ending at Sidney, on account of reaching the island via the San Juans. I'm looking for a place in Sidney where I could leave two bicycles and a bike rack for the duration of my visit. After Vancouver Island I'm heading back down to the San Juans for bike touring and don't want a large rack with 2 bikes hanging off the back of my Rover for the Vancouver Island portion of the trip.

I'll pick up a copy of the map book and start piecing together itineraries. My goal is not to cover the most ground, but to have the most fun. Sounds like heading north might have the better access and more options.
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Re: Suggestions for a visit to the island

#11 Post by rgallant » Sat Apr 07, 2018 11:36 am

That middle /south section is challenging - you can check this web site for gate and access info http://blog.islandtimberlands.com/

Going through the same planning for the beginning of June
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Re: Suggestions for a visit to the island

#12 Post by Tugela » Fri Jun 08, 2018 10:33 pm

I've shifted the dates of my trip to the first week in September. So far the only parts that we're set on include a day in Victoria on the front end, a night at Sooke Potholes, and then getting to Englishman's River and Tofino for a couple nights before catching the ferry back to the States. I have the backcountry map book and have been doing research about the SW portion of the island. What is in the area between/around Port Renfrew and Sooke? Juan de Fuca park looks like it's better suited to hiking than to vehicle supported camping. The established camp areas around Port Renfrew don't sound like the experience I'm looking for.

Given the road layout should we even bother with spending a day or two in the SW portion of the island or should we head north from Sooke? For those of you familiar with the area, what are the prospects for finding good informal campsites that are off minor roads?
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Re: Suggestions for a visit to the island

#13 Post by Tugela » Fri Jun 15, 2018 4:16 pm

No feedback to offer from any of the Vancouver Island residents or people familiar with the area in question? I'd hate to miss a good opportunity if there is something worth checking out, but also don't want to waste my time if better options await further north.
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Re: Suggestions for a visit to the island

#14 Post by Rob » Fri Jun 15, 2018 5:19 pm

The southern part of the island is not particularly great for off-roading, much of it is either developed, protected watershed areas or timber company land behind locked gates. Personally I'd probably skip the potholes and opt for a night at China Beach near Jordan River. From there I'd continue on to Port Renfrew then along the paved Pacific Marine Road that leads to Lake Cowichan and connects with highway 18. There are a few camp sites along the shores of lake Cowichan and the ones that are further west are the most remote so in September those should be pretty quiet. Depending on the weather conditions the back roads might be open and from Lake Cowichan it is possible to gravel road trip to Bamfield (the Pachena Campground near Bamfield is a nice little spot). From Bamfield it is 60 kilometers of bumpy gravel to Port Alberni which gives you access to Tofino and Ucluelet via paved highway. If you stopped along the way you could stretch the Sooke to Tofino drive into a leisurely 3 day trip. On the way back you could venture up to Mt. Arrowsmith (no camping there but nice viewpoints) or over to Horne Lake for some spelunking and camping. It is an easy 1/2 day drive back to Victoria from there. It is all going to depend on the weather as the back roads are shut-down very tightly if there is any forest fire risk.

Hopefully this is of some use to you.

Regards, Rob

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Re: Suggestions for a visit to the island

#15 Post by Tugela » Tue Jul 10, 2018 8:38 pm

Thanks for the detail, Rob. We're now planning on exploring Lake Cowichan en route to Tofino. Will the unofficial sites be obvious as we approach the west end of the lake or are there landmarks to look out for? If you have coordinates that would be helpful - or could you post a link to the approximate location as marked on a Google map? Cheers.
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Re: Suggestions for a visit to the island

#16 Post by Rob » Thu Jul 12, 2018 7:43 am

Here's a link to an excellent recreation map of Lake Cowichan http://www.cowichan-lake-stewards.ca/im ... %20map.pdf

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