cycle hiking Pender Island

Cycle hiking the Gulf Islands – trip report by site editor Rick McCharles

Pender Island is home to about 2,250 permanent residents …

North Pender and South Pender, which are separated by a narrow canal originally dredged in 1903. In 1955 the islands were connected by a one lane bridge, as it remains today.

I arrived Pender very tired. And worried. My guidebook said it was one of the hilliest islands. A local cautioned me that many of the steep decent had dangerous right angle turns at the bottom.



Arriving we had a bit of excitement. Two bald eagles. They spend a lot of time on this perch.


So far on this trip I’d seen plenty of deer. Quail. Bald eagles. Some sort of mink. Turkey vultures. The largest garter snake of my life. …

I rode directly to the Roe Lake trailhead. Wild camped. Too tired to eat, I watched Game of Thrones on my laptop until tired enough to sleep.

Did not get out of the tent until 8am next morning. That’s sleeping-in for me this summer. I packed up. Then walked to the trail.

It was far better than I had anticipated.





At the start you might expect you could mountain bike that 1.5 km loop. Not so. There are some very rough sections.

Psyching up, I headed (literally) for the hills. But before I got far I happened upon Vanilla Leap Bakery Cafe. One of those west coast hippie establishments enjoyed by all.


Free wifi. Good coffee. I ended up staying perhaps 90 minutes.

THEN I (literally) headed for the hills. And they are rough. I pushed my heavy bike up most of them.

But I managed to cross the waters over to South Pender. I wanted to climb Mt Norman, the highest point on the islands at 244m.

It’s a short, steep slog up to a gorgeous viewpoint.



On the way down I managed to miss a turn, ending up at a different trailhead on Canal Road. Rather than admit my mistake, I walked Canal Road back to my bike. Creating my own loop trail. (Not recommended.) 🙂

Again I needed to psych up for the return to the ferry. On Pender it’s uphill each way.

I should have stashed the bike in the trees and stood by one of the Car Stops. These are official alternatives to hitch hiking on some Gulf Islands.

car stop

Rather than a bus, locals are encouraged to stop and give free rides to anyone standing at one of these places. Good idea. At your own risk, of course.

With time to kill before my 4:20 ferry I hung out at Port Browning Marina. Very posh.


On to Mayne Island. 🙂


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