Get incredible views of Vancouver Island from the summit of Mt. Geoffrey. This area offers great trail design and maintenance and a great opportunity to relax at white sandy beaches with warm saltwater swimming.

Hornby Island riding is almost too good to be true. The island itself is charming and laid-back – for its beaches and warm water swimming, it has been described as the Hawaii of the North.

Furthermore, the centrally located Mt. Geoffrey is jam-packed with extremely fast, smooth, well graded trails—some of the fastest you will ever ride—which translates to trails that can be ridden both up and down. Thanks to great trail design and a dedicated maintenance crew, there are minimal braking sections, very few tight corners, and some fun built features to play on, if that is your thing.

The views from the ridge trail looking back at Vancouver Island are also well worth the climb to the summit of Mt. Geoffrey. Stuff a pastry from the bakery into your jersey pocket and plan to take a break and enjoy the incredible views from the ridge trail.

Getting there: To reach Hornby Island, you will take two short vehicle ferries from Buckley Bay, located on Vancouver Island, BC. Driving time from Victoria to Buckley Bay is about 2.5 hours. From there, you will ferry to Denman Island, drive across Denman Island, then connect to the Hornby Island ferry.

While waiting for the ferry in Buckley Bay, be sure to hit the well-curated Weinberg's Market for a small but mouth-water array of local produce, cured meats, cheese and artisan gifts. Fresh local seafood can also be found next door.

Once on Hornby, there is just one main road that will take you across the island and into the village. The tiny village contains a handful of charming shops, including a bike shop, where I would suggest grabbing a trail map and any other riding essentials you may need. You can park your car at the central lot (beside the co-op) and ride to the trailhead from there.

Getting started: Ride South on Central Road for 450 m (0.3 mi), then make a right on Slade Rd and ride to the end of the road (1.4 km, 0.8 mi) where you will reach a dead end and see the entrance to the Mt. Geoffory trails to your left. There is a posted map, as well as signs on each of the trails, but you should still carry a trail map with you.

Trail Beta: Essentially, it is hard to go wrong riding on Hornby. All the trails are woven into a stunning coastal forest with much of the single track cutting through vivid green moss and arching ferns.

While warming up and getting a lay of the land, climb the smooth and gentle grade of Colt's Foot to Northwind to Cold Deck, where you will pop out on the ridge and take in the stunning views of Denman and Vancouver Islands. There are then a multitude of options depending on what style you like for descent; be sure not to miss Dead Aliens, Purgatory, and the hands down favorite, No Horses. These are all intermediate level trails; for more advanced trails, check out Yer Mom and Devil's Kitchen.

When your legs are done for the day and it is time to refuel, head over to the Cardboard House Bakery and grabbing a delicious pizza to enjoy in their beautiful orchard. Finally, with full bellies and hearts, close the day by taking in the sunset from Helliwell Provincial Park.

Pack List

  • Mountain bike (Hardtail to All-Mountain)
  • Helmet
  • Water bottle
  • Trail map
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Activities Mountain Biking
Skill Level Beginner
Season Year Round
Features
Beach
Easy Parking
Food Nearby
Forest
Groups
Scenic

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Overall rating: 

Hornby Island is a mecca of west coast mountain biking, one of the first established zones on Vancouver Island / the Gulf Islands, host for years of a (in)famous mountain bike festival, and still one of the must-go places for riders in the region and otherwise. Every time I visit I shake my head at how good it is - like an amusement park. And Hornby Island, generally, is such a unique, laid-back gem.


Please respect the places you find on The Outbound Collective.

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