Cowichan Valley Loop


Bikepack - Cowichan Valley Loop

Spend your Memorial Day week-end this year joining the first multi-day bikepacking trip offered by the Seattle Mountaineers Bikepacking! This is a very scenic figure 8 route starting and ending in downtown Victoria. This is an international trip. Valid US passport/visa required! Read carefully ALL Leader's noted before asking for permission to register. Keyword included.

  • Bikepacking Gravel III
  • Moderate
  • Mileage: 118.0 mi
  • Elevation Gain: 5,866 ft
  • Pace: 8-10 mph average on gravel including hillss

Outside the Parliament Building in Downtown Victoria, British Columbia. Exact time  to be determined by likely about 1 hour of arrival of the ferries. More details provided to planning emails to registered partipants.

Participants can reach start point either by the Victoria Clipper in downtowm Seattle or via the Port Angeles-Victoria Coho ferry. More details in the the leader notes and subsequent planning emails.

Given the logistics complexity and challeging aspects of this route, this is a permission-only trip.

Before asking for permission to register please READ CAREFULLY all information and requests below and include all required in your email. Please include in your email the keyword found within this section to show we you read the whole thing. :-)

This is a lot of information and you may have to read over multiple times and return to it again later after you are accepted on the trip. Subsequent planning emails and at least one pre-trip meetings will also follow.

Criteria for acceptance on the trip:

This is not a beginner trip. Experience with multi-day (more than a single overnight) bikepacking trips is required. We have a fixed and non-negotiable distance to cover each day and the group will stay together so I need to make sure we have a group made of folks with compatible experience, fitness and stamina to cover the distance within a reasonable time each day. The criteria and questions below will help me form a compatible group for the safety and enjoyment of everyone on this trip.

Feel free to send me your permission requests any time after your see this trip posting but be aware of the following:

I will allow a couple of weeks for permission requests to be sent and then I will review permission requests between April 1st and April 7th. You will know if you got on the trip by April 8th. Roster will be finalized on April 9th . I will manually add you to the roster after I notified you of your acceptance. No self-registration allowed. Anyone who registers without following this procedure will be removed from the roster.  If you plan to take the Victoria Clipper, you should not make your reservations until you are notified of your acceptance. Should you not find available seats and bike space by then, you can always take the ferry from Port Angeles which does not require any reservations. Once the roster is finalized, I will begin communicating with the group about logistics, possible training rides, and we will schedule one meeting (either a Zoom call or a gathering in-person if possible) to meet and greet and discuss some logistics.

When asking for permission, include in your email to me the  answers to the following questions:

1. Experience on multi-day trips:  What is your previous recent bikepacking experience including multi-day (more than a single overnight). Include at least 3 recent trips.

2. Bike and Gear: What bike do you plan to use for this trip (include make and model and tire size) and what is your bike bag/gear set-up? If you could include a photo would be great!

3. Biking Fitness: What is your current biking fitness? How many times a month are you riding and what is the furthest distance and elevation gain you are covering on your longest trip this month?

4. Training Plan: Whether you are riding regularly or not right now, what is your plan for training for this trip (see daily itinerary with distance and elevation gain/per day).  2-3 gravel day training rides to assess fitness may also be offered if needed and desired.

5. Terrain Experience: This route follows a railroad conversion and it is mostly on very nice and mostly smooth gravel and moderate grade but there are some significant hills interspersed on the route and a few loose gravel descents. This route is rated  Bikepacking Gravel III (mostly for daily length and elevation gain), and we intend to ride it at a Moderate pace. Please review the bikepacking route difficulty ratings here

What is your level of experience on steep climbs (up to 14%) gravel roads and loose/gravel descents. The route is  How do you think you would fare on this type of terrain?

6. Group Riding and Group Dynamics: What is your experience riding in groups? Are you willing to go at the pace of the group and stay together even if there are slower riders than you are?

7. Bike Maintanance Experience: We need to be self-sufficient on the trail and able to seal with mechanicals. How would you rate (between 1 and 5) your skills at trail bike maintanance and repair (1 being "very low", 5 being "I am a bike mechanic"?

Logistical information and Itinerary:

Getting to and from Victoria on bikes can be done either by taking the Victoria Clipper from Pier 69 on the Seattle Waterfront or taking the taking the Coho ferry from Port Angeles.

The Victoria Clipper requires advanced reservations and is significantly more expensive. And add-on bike reservation is also required and must be arranged in advance.  You are responsible for making your own reservation. For more information and reservations go to:

 The Coho Ferry (a.k.a Black Bell Ferry) from Port Angeles does not require advanced reservation for passengers on bikes and is much less expensive. For more information go to:

 An additional ferry is required to cross the Sanich Inlet from Bamberton to Brentwood Bay. This ferry is low cost, does not require reservations, and runs year-round approximately every hour. For more information go to:

 Leader secured reservations and pre-paid for the two sites for the group at Goldstream Provincial Park (night 1), Lake Cowichan Stoltz Pool Provincial Park (night 2), and Bamberton Provincial Park (night 3). All amenities of established campgrounds are present at these provincial parks including, water, picnic tables, firepits, and bathrooms with showers.  Each participant owes leader $ 21.11 for camping fees.

 Many re-supply options exist along the route but the main meals should be pre-planned and packed as no restaurants are located near the campgrounds.


Day 1:  Take early morning Victoria Clipper from Seattle (7:30 AM) arrival 10:45 AM ot take the Black Bell (a.k.a Coho) Ferry from Port Angeles at 8:20 AM arriving in Victoria at 9:50 AM. It takes about an hour to go through customs, then bikes need to be loaded, so the group will meet by the Parlament building around 12 PM and depart Victoria on bikes around 12:30 PM. Ride to Goldstream Provincial Park. 16 miles and 2-3 hours of riding.

 Day 2: Goldstream Provincial Park to Lake Cowichan Stoltz Pool Provincial Park. Approximately 40 miles and 5-6 hours of riding.

 Day 3: Lake Cowichan Stoltz Pool Campground to Bamberton Provincial Park. Approximately 30 miles and 3-4 hours of riding.

  Day 4: Ride a couple of miles from Bamberton Provincial ferry to  Mill Bay Ferry  and cross to Brentwood Bay (25 min crossing), then ride remaining 14 miles to Victoria and take the ferry back to Seattle or Port Angeles. Departure times are 3  PM and 7:30 PM for Coho Ferry to Port Angeles and 7 PM for the Victoria Clipper. 

Keyword to cite in the email: "Cougar".

 For more information on the route and photos go to:

 Link to Track on Ride with GPS with point of interests (POI):


Cowichan Valley Loop

Required Equipment

Required Equipment

Bikepacking kits are extremely varied and based on rider's preference. A detailed sample packing list will be provided to registered participants. However, participants are supposed to have significant prior bikepacking experience and are responsible for selecting the appropriate gear for this trip.

Trip Reports