My husband and I have ridden ATVs in our home region of Powell River, B.C., for 15 years. We’ve trailered into the backcountry and taken our quads by barge to logging roads around Powell Lake from our float cabin home. Two years ago, we decided to take our quads on vacation to explore new locales.
In 2016, we selected the Whistler RV Park and Campground. They are ATV-friendly and we camped next to the trail leading into the backcountry. We stopped by the Whistler ATV Brandywine Base Facility and they were very helpful, giving us maps of the Callaghan Valley. With three days of riding, we couldn’t see it all.
In 2017, we explored the Campbell River region on Vancouver Island. I follow the Campbell River ATV Club (CRATV) on Facebook and know they are active in trail maintenance. They’re also instrumental in developing long-distance ATV routes and have secured riding permission in some towns to access fuel, restaurants and overnight accommodations. CRATV uses the Pye Mountain Recreation Site, which they built as a base for club activities. It can be accessed via Highway 19 north of Campbell River and the Elk Bay Forest Service Road (FSR).
We wanted to camp near water, so we selected Stella Lake based on a recommendation from friends in the Powell River ATV Club. There are two ways to get there, either by Elk Bay or Rock Bay forest service roads. We chose the Rock Bay to Stella Lake FSR because, with our double quad trailer, we wanted to avoid the steep hill and tight turn on the Elk Bay route. On the way we stopped at the Roberts Lake Resort café for one of their famous cinnamon rolls.
We travelled in June on a Thursday. Stella Beach’s campsites were mostly open and we chose one with lake access. We offloaded our quads at the entrance, then parked the trailer in the ample site. There are pit toilets, picnic tables and fire rings, but campbers should bring drinking water. Even in June, the campground filled over the weekend, but there are other camping spots in the area.
Our lakeside Stella Beach campsite on Stella Lake with the quads and trailer. — Margy Lutz photo
From our campsite, we rode forest service roads and trails developed by the Campbell River ATV Club. There’s excellent signage that includes experience level symbols as you enter trails. As an intermediate rider, that was very helpful. We also purchased Backroad Maps software for our Garmin GPS to make us more confident about riding in a new location.
Some of the most memorable rides were to Elk Bay on Johnstone Strait, visiting the Pye Mountain Rec Site, and going to neighbouring Pye and McCreight lakes. My favourite ride was along an old logging road that branched off Bear Bight Road and wound through second growth to the Bear River (a.k.a. Amos de Cosmos Creek). Here, we enjoyed a picnic lunch in warm sunshine surrounded by a meadow of sweet gale.
Our picnic spot of Bear River (a.k.a. Amor de Cosmos Creek). — Margy Lutz photo