Vancouver Island’s revolutionary new trail: The North Island 1000

If you’ve never explored Northern Vancouver Island, here’s your chance

by Graham Lindenbach |

Two dirt bikers sit on their bikes and take in the scenery of ocean, mountains and trees.

The North Island 1000 is a 1,000 kilometre route that connects all the small towns of the north end of Vancouver Island, B.C. — Photo courtesy Graham Lindenbach

There’s something special about embarking on a journey where you don’t retrace your route on the way back. No time is wasted returning on roads you’ve already traveled on, your destination is always ahead of you and every turn is new territory. I felt this excitement when I took my kids on trips to the intricate trail networks in Utah, like the Paiute trail, and again when my daughter and I embarked on a three week expedition up the Continental Divide on our dual sports. Every day we woke up in a place we had never been before and left our campsite not knowing where the road would lead us or where we would end up. This allure of new trails and riding into the unknown has always captured my imagination and has now spurred my desire to create something similar in the beautiful backcountry I have right here at home on Vancouver Island.

A group of ATVers congregate in a dense forest.

The North Island 1000 kicks off on May 30, 2020, and is expected to last at least three to four days to complete the loop. — Photo courtesy Graham Lindenbach

The United States has some famous trails, such as the Continental Divide, which is just over 3,000 miles long. It is enjoyed by motorcyclists, bicyclists and hikers and is one of the original mixed-use trails, established over 40 years ago. This is only one of many multi-use trails in the U.S., which has numerous developed multi-use trails up to several thousand miles in length. Canada, however, seems to lack in this category, and it’s time we caught up.

Thus, the idea of creating a backroads loop was born. Here on North Vancouver Island, we have thousands of kilometres of gravel roads that are ready to be linked for hikers, cyclists, motorcyclists and quad riders to enjoy. The North Island 1000 is a 1,000 kilometre route that connects all the small towns of the north end of Vancouver Island. We have been partnering with the quadding community, who’s motto, “See B.C. on an ATV,” captures the essence of the project.

A side-by-side, dirt bike and quad line up for a photo in front of a “Welcome to Zeballos” sign.

The North Island 1000 is doable regardless of whether you ride a quad, dirt bike or side-by-side. — Photo courtesy Graham Lindenbach

I have travelled all over the USA and Canada and have been on some amazing trails. We have the opportunity to create something incredible right here in our own backyard that will showcase the beauty of our island and bring a tourism boost to the northern communities along the way. Many people who visit our beautiful Island never make it past Campbell River, when in reality, the true, raw beauty of the island begins once you venture northward. If you’ve never explored Northern Vancouver Island, here’s your chance. We are looking for fellow adventure-seekers to join us on the inaugural ride of the North Island 1000 Route this coming May 2020.

Route/Trip info:

The route will start in Campbell River and proceed to all eleven North Island communities: Campbell River to Gold River, Tahsis, Woss, Zeballos, Port Alice, Coal Harbour, Holberg, Port Hardy, Port McNeil, back to Woss, Sayward and then finishing in Campbell River. We will use existing forest service roads which are predominantly gravel. We may travel between 200-300 kilometres per day, so it is important that anyone participating carries enough fuel for at least 200 kilometres. As the number of hotels on the North Island are limited, participants may also want to bring camping gear along to provide flexibility along the route should circumstances arise that slow our progress.

A map of the north of Vancouver Island with a red line highlighting where the North Island 1000 will travel through.

The inaugural group ride of the North Island 1000 will start in Campbell River and proceed to all eleven North Island communities: Campbell River to Gold River, Tahsis, Woss, Zeballos, Port Alice, Coal Harbour, Holberg, Port Hardy, Port McNeil, back to Woss, Sayward and then finishing in Campbell River. — Photo courtesy Graham Lindenbach

While temperatures are fairly mild at the beginning of June, Northern Vancouver Island is a temperate rainforest. Please leave all cotton clothing behind. Dress in quick-dry layers with a good quality rain suit. Plan on at least three to four days to complete the trip, although some may want to go at a slower pace as there are many side trips to explore.

ATV riders must be plated, insured with ICBC road crossing sticker, and have an RCMP permit for riding on a designated route in the North Island communities in order to access food, fuel and accommodation in the towns along the route via public roads.  

If you are interested in joining the inaugural trek/trip/journey of the North Island 1000 and you want to ride a quad, a side-by-side or a dual sport motorcycle, contact Graham Lindenbach at [email protected].

Hope to see you there!

Two motorcyclists pose for a photo in front of towering mountains under a blue sky with few clouds.

The North Island 1000 is a first of its kind on Vancouver Island. — Photo courtesy Graham Lindenbach


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