Mt Quimper circuit, Sooke B.C.

Trip report by BestHike editor Rick McCharles

Mount Manuel Quimper is a great hike close to Sooke on Vancouver Island.

I looped back via Mount Brule, an easy 10km circuit using AllTrails for navigation.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

There are many other hiking and mountain biking trails to choose from.

It’s just off the Galloping Goose Regional Trail, a 55-kilometre (34 mi) non-motorized path to Victoria. Ideal for me as I cycled to the trailhead.

Hiking Vancouver Island North

A pandemic is a good time to stay local.

And physically distance from strangers outdoors. 😀

The only hiking I’ve done atop Vancouver Island is famed North Coast Trail.

In early July, I’m hoping to bikepack trailhead-to-trailhead.

There’s much to see. And a touring bike looks to be good transport in this remote area.

I’d get a ride to Port Hardy. Then cycle to as many of Gregg Strong’s recommended areas as possible.

I’d navigate with apps and the Vancouver Island Backroads Mapbook.

Click PLAY or watch some highlights on YouTube.

Check a map of trails and attractions.

WHAT is Bikepacking?

It wasn’t all that long ago that I had to ask Kraig Becker … WHAT is Bikepacking?

I wanted to get to hiking trailheads by BIKE.

… But isn’t that called Bike Touring?

BikePacking.com considers those 2 terms nearly identical, except that touring is mostly on pavement. Bikepacking mostly non-pavement.

Camping + minimalist Cycling.

Like everything in cycling, terms continue to be invented. Each one getting fuzzier. 😀

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

Englishman River Trail, Vancouver Island

Trip report by BestHike editor Rick McCharles.

AllTrails calls this adventure the Englishman River Trailway.

But you don’t need follow the AllTrails 10.5km out and back route.

It’s a network of mountain biking / walking trails on the west side of the Englishman River. You can’t really get lost so long as you parallel the water.

I spend a lot of time here as I have family in Parksville.

This is temperate rain forest. It can be wet. It can be muddy.

Riparian.

But hiking is accessible year-round. In fact, this video was taken early December.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

Most people park at the Top Bridge trailhead (green dot) close to highway 19 at Parksville. Head inland along the river for as far as they wish. Then backtrack.

I started on the far left of the map below at Middlegate Road trailhead. Walked to Top Bridge Park close to the highway. About 5km one way plus many side trips.

I often, as well, head the other direction, under the highway towards Parksville on the 5km Top Bridge Regional Trail.

In good weather, the bridge near the parking areas is a popular swimming spot.

Summer

Nitecore NU25 headlamp review 2021

I needed enough light to cycle in the dark as well as for hiking / camping.

After reading good reviews, I went with the Nitecore NU25 headlamp.

I like it.  Comfortable, adjustable headband.  

Four settings for white light.  Three for red.

In addition, a three second press of the white light sets off the well known ••• – – – ••• Morse code sequence.  

Simple design.

  • rechargeable with micro-USB (from battery or solar if necessary)
  • maximum output of 360 lumens
  • max. Beam Distance 81 m
  • indicator reports remaining battery power
  • lockout to prevent accidental activation
  • 0.99oz

Headlamps have turned on accidentally during transport in the past.  That won’t happen when you lock out this one.

It will work while charging from a portable battery, if needed for many hours.

 

Click PLAY or watch a review on YouTube.

Here are other recommended headlamps in 2020.

The NU 25’s main limitations are its short battery life (in our testing, the NU’s burn time was much shorter than listed) and the fact that it’s hard to keep the light from shining in your camping partner’s eyes due to its wide beam pattern.

Anker PowerCore+ 26800 PD battery

Though I’m now bikepacking with solar, to be SURE I’ve got enough juice to get my devices through a weekend hike I’ve also purchased the Anker PowerCore+ 26800 PD with 30W.

This is the largest portable battery currently allowed for airline carry-on baggage.

26800mAh of power charges most phones over 7 times, tablets at least 2 times or notebooks at least once.

There are two parts: battery and USB-C wall charger.

Charging devices from a wall socket (including the battery) is claimed to be up to 3x faster.

On longer cycling trips when I’m carrying a laptop, this unit IS powerful enough to recharge a MacBook Pro. That will help me keep up-to-date with photos, video and trip reports.

Cycle hiking Gabriola Island, B.C.

Trip report by BestHike editor Rick McCharles.

On July 1, 2020 I cycle toured Gabriola Island, the first time I’d been back to the island since I was a kid on family summer vacation.

Gabriola is about 14 kilometres (9 mi) long by 4.2 kilometres (2.6 mi) wide, about the same land mass as Bermuda.

I caught the ferry over from Nanaimo in the early evening.

Next morning, while celebrating Canada Day, I was reminded that descendants of the original inhabitants are still there — the Snuneymuxw, a First Nation of the Coast Salish People.

Sobering.

First stop was the Malaspina Galleries, a sandstone cliff carved by wind and waves. Lovely shoreline, as well.

To navigate I used Cycling the Islands: A Guide to Scenic Routes on the San Juan and Gulf Islands by John Crouch.

And Hiking Trails 2: South-Central Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands by Richard K. Blier.

Gabriola is less developed than I anticipated.  A definite hippy vibe.

I circled the island counter-clockwise, stopping next at Sandwell Provincial Park.

Popped in briefly to Joyce Lockwood Community Park.

There’s a marina and campground at Silva Bay at the far end of the island.

Cycling and hiking temperate rain forest is wonderful when it’s not raining. And the rain held off this day.

My last stop was Drumbeg Provincial Park.

One day was enough to explore Gabriola. All good. The hiking trail infrastructure is excellent for a small island. Paths well marked.

All trails are short and easy.

I recommend Gabriola.

Strathcona Park BC – Buttle Lake area day hikes

By BestHike editor Rick McCharles

Strathcona Provincial Park,  Vancouver Island, offers many challenging multi-day adventures. And many very challenging day hikes.

In this post, however, I focus on easy highway-accessible day hikes recommended for kids, families, everyone.

I hiked most of these.  All good.

Almost everyone stops for the short walk to the viewing platform at Lady Falls.

  • Elk River Viewpoint
  • Lupin Falls
  • Auger Point
  • Karst Creek
  • Wild Ginger
  • Shepherd Creek

Without question Lower Myra Falls is best of the easy day hikes.  Don’t miss it.   And bring a bathing suit if weather is good.


Auger Point Fire Trail was interesting in seeing how some trees can survive major forest fires.


If you stay at Buttle Lake campground, I loved their Beach Access Trail.

I was cycling this trip, hiding my bike in the trees between each short nature walk.

BestHike editor Rick McCharles

The best hiking guidebook is Exploring Strathcona Park. Dead tree version available only. 

See our list of the best hikes in North America

American thru hikes cancelled for 2020

Mac:

… The Pacific Crest Trail Association, the Continental Divide Trail Coalition, and the Appalachian Trail Conservancy have all officially requested hikers to postpone or cancel their thru-hikes

… (in related news, the Arizona Trail Association and the Great Divide Trail Association have done the same). …

Your Pacific Crest Trail Thru-hike Is Canceled

You can certainly still day hike. And should be able to plan multi-day hikes.

BUT check camping and resupply options. California State Parks, for example, has closed all campgrounds.