Sunshine Coast Gravel

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August 2023
An alternative gravel route from Swartz Bay to Porpoise Bay

Sunshine Coast is another destination easily accessible from Vancouver. Ferries from Horseshoe Bay run pretty often and the sailing takes only 40 minutes.

The hardest climb of the route starts basically right off Langdale ferry terminal, but it’s on pavement, which makes it a bit easier and you will be rewarded with beautiful views of the ocean and other islands on the way up. On top of the hill is Persephone Brewery, a great spot to stop and refresh.

We decided to visit Persephone on the way home and continued for a few more kilometers to Sunday Cider, which is just off Gibsons. They have a beautiful garden area and a food truck with Mexican food, so we grabbed lunch and spent some time here enjoying the sunshine.  

We tried to avoid highway as much as possible, so we opted for Lower Road. There is much less traffic, so the riding is way nicer and you come out just by Gumboot Café at Robert’s Creek. They have delicious food, snacks and ice cream, so we made sure to stop here on our way to Sechelt.

As we were all refreshed and relaxed, it was time to hit the gravel!

We continued through the residential area to get back to the highway, but got off it pretty quickly to access the trails. Paved road turned into a gravel one and we continued through power line trail. Soon we turned right into the forest where trail got narrower and turned into a single track. Back to the power lines, we continued to a section where a bit of hike a bike is recommended due to the looseness of the trail (especially in the summer) and the creek crossing. This creek is very dry and almost non-existent in the hot summer months, but you never know how it’s going to be until you get there. I find walking through it on a warm day very refreshing.

A bit of bike pushing is required to get up to the forest, as there are bigger rocks on the trail. This is one of the reasons why packing light is recommended for this trip. The following section of the trail can be in various conditions, I visited it on a few occasions and first time there was a lot of debris on the ground, fallen branches and rock garden, the others branches were cleared out, but the rock garden stayed. I think the comfort depends on the type of your bike and skill level. Some of us walked and some rode through most of it. Everyone had fun regardless 😊

The best part of the trail began after we crossed a gate by the airport. This section of Suncoaster Trail was mostly downhill, very smooth and flowy and we really loved it. We came out of the forest high up on Selma Park Road and had an amazing view of Strait of Georgia and Vancouver Island. After a fun descent we rolled to Sechelt for ice cream at E.B.’s Ice Cream Shop, which is located at the park right by the pier and provides a nice spot to relax after a long ride. One last stop at the grocery store to resupply on snacks and we headed to the campground.

Big advantage of Porpoise Bay campground is the open cyclist specific field (walk-in only) which guarantees that there is always space for your group. We set up our tents and walked over to the beach where we prepared dinner and watched the sunset.

Next day we rode back along the highway and Lower Road, as climbing through the gravel section would be more challenging. As mentioned before, we stopped at Persephone Brewing before riding the last downhill to the ferry terminal. Brewery has a big outdoor area and it is a perfect place to hang before heading home. Besides beer and some snacks, they also host a farmers market every Sunday between May long and Labour Day weekend. There are some vendors, live music and a food truck. Atmosphere was just so cool and relaxing that it was hard to leave!

There is no fare on the way back to Vancouver, so you can just go straight to the waiting area and then board to the vessel. Part of the group took a bus home and the rest of us rode home, exploring Great Trail on the way home. This section is a bit hidden, but highly recommended as you are not only on a beautiful trail away from the cars, but you also get really nice views of West Vancouver Marina, UBC and the mountains. We got back to Marine Drive after turning right on the fork. If you are looking for more nice places to stop by on the way home, Issetta Café Bistro is always a good option 😊

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