A quick overnight bikepacking trip was the idea. The Sunshine Coast Trail (SCT) as such actually only exists on the upper peninsula where it looked intriguing on the map and is open to bikes. So, I wanted to check it out. Then there is the lower Sunshine Coast, which is what is typically referred to by mountain bikers, which is a combination of the Suncoaster trail in the north, and other paths, roads, and trails farther south.
Ferry: I did not find any remaining legal parking at Horseshoe Bay for the 12 o’clock ferry – so I parked very far away and luckily didn’t get ticketed overnight. On my return trip, I saw a parking garage / tunnel which may have had open spots, but I doubt it.
Next up was the bus from Langdale to Earl’s Cover: The Sunshine Coast Connector offers a bike transport option, but the bike rack on the bus was of a very poor design. Luckily, it was only the paint and not the carbon fiber, that was pulverized, as the friendly driver had mercy on my bike flopping in the breeze after a while.
The ferry rides are nice breaks – with ample food and drinkable water.
After getting to Saltery Bay at 4 pm, and being chased by loud motorcyles up the ferry ramp, a sharp right brought me to a quiet gravel road. The Sunshine Coast trail starts there, but I chose to climb up the 1500 ft. on the road and hope for a quick singletrack decent later on, while still catching the evening ferry back to Earl’s Cove.
It was a very warm and humid climb, as I watched the ferry go back.
After a while, the road narrows and trees shade the way.
The first sign for the SCT points to a narrow road around the southern side of Rainy Day lake, and most people who visit go that way. However, I continued another mile up where the SCT crosses the road. Immediately, there is not doubt that there may be some hike-a-bike ahead.
While at times the trail is rideable, those sections are very short. Often, there are super tight turns, up&downs over rocks and roots. Though I love techy trails, I couldn’t even ride this down later on. These 10 meters were rideable:
which was promptly followed by this and other varieties of hike-a-bike:
The little hut at Rainy Day Lake was cute: the top can be closed off, while the bottom is always open.
I tried to ride a bit more of the SCT afterwards, but gave up in earnest and took the road back down to the ferry terminal. The little snack shack had already closed for the day.
But, then there’s the ferry with it’s unlimited food resources, and the little shop at Earl’s Cover, which closes at 7.30pm.
The BC bike race was going to come through here on Sunday and Monday, so I wanted to be far ahead of them. I followed mostly their route or the Lower Sunshine Coast route on bikepacking.com. This route consists of lots of ATV trails and gravel roads. Sporadic singletrack – often quite challenging – interrupts the monotony of riding deep in the woods without views. There were 2 areas with significant and fun singletrack: NW of Sechelt, and west of Langdale. And there is absolutely no good reason to ride north of Anderson Creek. Overall, I think the description is misleading as there certainly is _not_ anywhere near 70% singletrack, and I can’t understand why the BC Bike Race has this as days 3 and 4.
Start of the Suncoaster trail
which gains quite a bit of elevation before becoming a roller coaster that goes around a campground / lake on a dirt road.
Afterwards, the road turns back into an ATV trail, before dumping into a fall-line powerline road. Cool benches made from snowboards, and note the paved trail on the left 🙂
The powerline is occasionally bypassed by almost dipping to the highway, before climbing back up.
There are a couple elk herds in the picture above.
A sudden turn brings one through the first bit of real singletrack, before climbing the lost elevation back to the powerline on some dirt road.
After some more climbing and riding along the powerline, I got tired and found a spot away from the thorns of blackberry bushes. I heard an elk being shot and killed, and swatted mosquitoes until late at night.
Sunday: At 4 am, I had enough of lying in the woods, and considered bailing on this ride all together. But, which way to bail? Let’s continue with the route and maybe take the next road intersection. But, then there were actually a couple very interesting singletrack sections: the ACDC creek crossing, and then the Highway to Hell, so that cheered me up.
In between powerline stints, there were more dirt roads and some good single track pieces.
If you like riding in the woods and cleaning off the spider webs with your face, this is the place to come to.
Eventually after a lot more gravel roads, I reached the singletrack park north-west of Sechelt. Lovely. Finally. And even a rather nice view after the first climb.
It was exactly an hour of fun, rideable singletrack.
The view from the road into Sechelt was great.
Breakfast was had a snooty cafe in Sechelt, right across from McDonalds. I wish I would have stopped at the McD, instead.
As I was taking a couple breaks pushing my bike up the next road, a couple cars stopped to offer help / ride. That was nice – thanks a lot! So nice to have people stop when I look wasted. But, I refused kindness, and pushed on and up to the Gravity Bike Park.
The route didn’t include any crazy stuff, just some handsome singletrack that turned into some very-wide and gently hiking path after a while.
No, that is _not_ singletrack, if anyone asks me.
After the airfield comes a bit of gravel road where quite a few pickup trucks were going too fast and kicking up a lot of dirt and dust. That really brought the ‘quality’ rating of this route to a solid 3/10.
The next piece of singletrack was so strange that I stopped to take a picture. Yes, we just climbed this annoying dirt road to ride this:
After some more gravel road, a few rooty singletrack sections were sewn together. Sort of fun when going downhill, other times super bumpy and with pitches too steep to climb.
There seems to be quite an extensive ATV area that the route goes through:
which is interrupted by singletrack portions.
Ignoring all the mindless climbing on gravel roads, this portion of the route had quite a few interesting trails. Especially, the last 4, 5 miles are very cool and fun downhilly stuff.
In the end, I was glad to see the light of day once again and know that I am close to the end.