First Time and looking for good places

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Dcarton's picture

derek carton
GRANTS PASS
First Time and looking for good places

Hey Everyone. Im new to the forum and joined because i'm looking for new areas to explore. Beginning of July i'll be heading to victoria from Oregon. We will have 3 or so Rigs and a couple offroad trailers. We are looking to camp 3 or 4 days and one location and then head to another and in total do about 10 days up there. Does anyone have any must see destinations or good places to camp? All rigs are pretty capable to offroad with, but we are mostly looking for easy to moderate trails while pulling trailers and not wanting to break anything so far from home. We were hoping to camp on the coast line then head over to a lake. Any info would be great..

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fx4

Jonathan
shawnigan

Side bay near port alice

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Solarisphere
Victoria

I would do a short loop in the south island for a few days and then head north for the remainder. Most of the land in the south island is owned by the forestry companies and gated, especially in fire season.

From Victoria head to the west coast through Sooke and then towards Port Renfrew. Some stops along the way could be Mystic beach (45 min hike, 48.43881, -124.11505) or Sombrio beach (10 min hike, 48.49691, -124.29829). China (48.43360, -124.09304) and French (48.39295, -123.94192) beaches are also options for a quick stop (no hike in) but not as nice IMO. Sandcut falls (48.41259, -124.01387) is cool too.

Once you hit Renfrew take bugaboo main into Walbran Valley (48.65133, -124.59411). It's right outside Carmanah-Walbran park, which is the largest patch of productive old growth forest left on the island. There are some volunteer built trails and boardwalks, stunning swimming holes, waterfalls, and massive trees - some around 20' in diameter at the base. There are several spots to camp on the logging roads there.

From there you could head up the Nitinat river past Lake Cowichan and back to the Island Highway to head north with possible stops at Carmanah Valley (similar to Walbran), Nitinat river rec sites (riverbank camping), Cowichan River (great tubing).

Once you get north there's a ton more options. Strathcona Park has great hiking but no off-road opportunities. Campbell River --> Gold River --> Woss --> Port Alice is one possible route. San Josef Bay in Cape Scott park is one of the nicest beaches on the island and would make a good day trip. If you've got any more specific questions or need help refining your route I'm happy to help.

fx4's picture
fx4

Jonathan
shawnigan

I wouldn't go past port alice. I did a trip all the way up island in October and I was really disappointed with the port hardy/san Joseph bay area. San Joseph bay and the north coast trail is stunning but the camping is really bad and sketchy. There are only 2 really badly overgrown camp sites in the area and the natives from port hardy are constantly breaking into people's vehicles.

You should look up the port alice lake route. Spend a couple days exploring the logging roads and lakes in this area, then head to port Alice, gas up and re supply in port alice, then make the 2 hour trip out to side bay. Side bay is the best camp spot I have found on Vancouver island. It's a stunning and sheltered bay and you can drive right out onto the beach and camp.

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Seth
Nanaimo

Thanks for the info Jonathan, was thinking about heading up there next summer but that concerns me and my lady. I've definitely wanted to check out side bay though so it's good to hear about that one. Would be cool to see some pictures from that. Or not, and I'll just get excited to check it out myself.

For the OP, the Sooke to Port Renfrew is beautiful, not always off-road camping but some stunning views. Definitely check out those big trees and views! The Woss area was awesome, went Canada Day and it was pretty quiet. Water was pristine.

fx4's picture
fx4

Jonathan
shawnigan

I'm not even exaggerating how sketchy the camping is out near san joseph bay. My gf and I ended up sharing a camp site with a single female traveling on her own because neither of us felt safe.

Garbage is dumped all over the place and tons of broken glass from people vehicles being broken into. I know I probably sound like a pussy, but I grew up in a bad area of toronto and I know a sketchy place when I see it lol.

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Solarisphere
Victoria

Damn that's too bad; it's such a nice area. I've heard of the break-ins but I didn't realize it was that bad. Still lots to see and do outside of that area though.

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Lance
Ladysmith

That's too bad too hear, I'm planning a trip up there soon

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