Vancouver Island is made for back road adventures. Let’s tread for the Beaufort Range overlooking funky Denman and Hornby Islands as well as magnificent Qualicum Bay, a jewel of the Salish Sea. For us wilderness quadders there are two wide open staging areas that allow an easy meet for friends and spacious ATV loading zones.
Pack your lunch, camera and bathing suit at the very least, as you are heading west on a long looping forest service road that will see you cross the pristine waters of the Nile Creek.
Prepare for an adventure
The staging area is right in Qualicum Bay at the Qualicum Bay Resort, where you can ride your ATV right from the door of your cabin, tent or RV. There is lots of room and groups are welcome. An ATV trail leads you right to Cochrane Road and west across the Inland Highway. Continue north along this forest service road if you can resist the temptation to explore all the mountain side roads and whirligig tracks of the power lines. Have that camera ready for the panoramic view of Denman and Hornby Islands as well as Qualicum Bay. Bears are common and you may even spot a coyote or wolf.
You will reach a very deactivated bridge abutment once used to span the Nile Creek. Fear not, there is an easy crossing that you will see just before the bridge. This same spot offers rock channels of water so crystalline that you can barely see it. Jump in. I guarantee you will wash the dust away and cool your cajones!
(NOTE: High rainfall can cause the Nile Creek to swell and create white water here that is not fordable. It is also important to remember that the Nile Creek is a strong salmon bearing waterway so tread lightly, please. We have so much to be proud of in our island wilderness and natural resources. Let’s enjoy and maintain them.)
Make stops along the way
Throttle up and continue north. Ten minutes along you will come to an almost-T in the road. You have now reached Cook Road. A right turn will take you to the Cook Road staging area. You will ride the winding path of the Big Qualicum River for many miles as you finally reach a junction that will take you west to a myriad of forestry roads that will lead south and west to Port Alberni, Mt. Cokely and Arrowsmith, Labour Day Lake and much more.
If you ride straight through that junction you will come to the famous Horne Lake Caves Regional Park where you can park and walk in to some fun spelunking, a challenging three-hour cave tour or hair-raising rappelling on the north bluffs of Horne Lake.
Do not miss the opportunity to swim or fish in Horne Lake or the smaller Spider Lake.
If you took the left turn on Cook Road intersection you will go down Cook Road route and end up on Highway 19.
Be dirty, be safe and be fun!!!!
- Linda Owens AKA “Lodare”, Mid Island ATV Club, Comox Valley ATV Club
- Vancouver Island BackRoads Map Book
- Vancouver Island Regional Parks