Known for the colonial charm of Victoria, the world-class whale watching and storm watching in Tofino and the wild, untamed beaches that dot the coast, Vancouver Island provides endless outdoor adventure opportunities. Locals and visitors alike flock to Vancouver Island for ocean kayaking or fishing in the summer months and cross-country skiing or snowmobiling in the winter – after all, Vancouver Island is one of the only places in Canada where you could technically surf in the morning and ski or snowboard in the afternoon! Just a short ferry ride away from the mainland, Vancouver Island makes the perfect road trip destination for anyone looking to enjoy the great outdoors.
Just in time to help you plan your next outdoor adventure, Backroad Mapbooks is excited to announce the new, updated edition of our Vancouver Island Mapbook! This 9th edition includes many updates such as expanded fish species and updated fish stocking information in the Fishing Adventures section, countless multi-use trail and ATV trail additions, private and leased land access gate additions, as well as cartographic style changes including enhanced private land features. Continue scrolling to check out a few of the adventures we are excited to include in the Vancouver Island Mapbook!
Vancouver Island is packed with expansive forests, huge trees, scenic waterfalls, and dozens of lighthouses positioned along the coast. From old WWII plane wreckages to ancient petroglyphs and vanishing rivers, Vancouver Island has Backroad attractions for any skill level or interest group. Whether you are planning a day trip around Victoria or a week-long road trip to explore the coast, in the 9th edition of the Vancouver Island Backroad Mapbook you will find close to 100 attractions to check out during your travels.
Fisgard Lighthouse National Historic Site
Built in 1860 and automated in 1929, this was the first-ever lighthouse in Western Canada and is still in operation today. Located just west of downtown Victoria, this lighthouse is easily accessible and contains exhibits, pictures and a video that depicts the life of a 19th-century lighthouse keeper.
Canso Bomber Plane Crash Site
Located near Radar Hill in Tofino, this WWII bomber crashed in 1945 shortly after take-off. Remarkably, all crew members survived and the plane is still largely intact – you can even see inside the cockpit. It takes a very muddy hike through a bog to reach the plane, but you will be rewarded by the breathtaking sight of the intact plane that is slowly being reclaimed by nature.
Known for the trophy-sized salmon and halibut that fill the ocean waters off the coast, Vancouver Island also offers fantastic river and lake fishing. Whether you are looking to make a big catch off the shores of the ocean or would prefer to fish off the dock at a scenic lake surrounded by mountains and forest, the 9th edition of the Vancouver Island Backroad Mapbook is packed with close to 400 detailed listings of the region’s best fishing, along with stocking charts and fish species indicators.
Nootka Sound and the Tlupana Inlet attract locals and tourists alike for the fast and easy world-class fishing. Although winter chinook can be found in this area from November to May, fishing peaks in July and August when it is common to catch a 9-18 kg (20-40 lbs) chinook or coho salmon. Halibut fishing is also available year-round (except for January), with some of the catches being over 30 kg (70 lbs)! For those looking to make a trip out to this fishing spot, there are accommodations and fishing charters available in Nootka Sound.
One of the largest and most popular lakes on the Island, Cowichan Lake has over 100 km (60 mi) of shoreline to fish for rainbow, cutthroat, kokanee, dollies and a few brown trout. Although the trout are rumoured to grow up to 3 kg (7 lbs) in this lake, most of the catches are between 1-1.5 kg (3 lbs). There are several boat launches on Cowichan Lake, as well as resorts, campsites and day-use parks.
Vancouver Island is designated as its own region for Wildlife Management and the primary big game animals include black-tailed deer, Roosevelt elk and black bear. Blue grouse and ruffed grouse are popular game birds in the area. In the 9th edition of the Vancouver Island Backroad Mapbook, you will find detailed descriptions of all the region’s Wildlife Management Units (WMUs) as well as the main game species found in each WMU.
This area has a long and narrow shape and captures the Cowichan River watershed. This management unit provides some of the best black-tailed deer and black bear hunting on the southern Island, and the close proximity to the river allows for excellent goose and duck shooting, although access is limited. Further inland, hunters usually harvest the highest number of blue grouse than anywhere else on the Island.
One of the larger management units, WMU 1-10 captures the “bulge” of land to the northwest of Campbell River. This area is known for the quantity and size of the Roosevelt elk that inhabit the forests, but it is also popular for hunting deer, bear, cougar and wolf.
From expansive open waters to sheltered channels and coves, ocean paddling off the coast of Vancouver Island is second to none. With enough mountains to create whitewater rivers along with dozens of lakes, Vancouver Island remains one of the only places in Canada where you can experience the ocean, river and lake paddling all in the same region. The 9th edition of the Vancouver Island Backroad Mapbook features over 100 different ocean, lake and river paddling routes.
The largest lake on Vancouver Island, Kennedy Lake is located about 45 minutes from Tofino and takes at least half a day to explore. Surrounded by mountainous scenery and interesting rock formations, Kennedy Lake is large enough that it is always possible to find a quiet bay to explore, and there are plenty of remote beaches to dock at.
Sayward Forest Canoe Route
This 47 km (29 mi) long trek covers 14 different lakes and is the most popular canoe route on the Island, mostly due to the beautiful remote scenery. The route takes about 3-4 days and is a good intermediate paddle. Starting points include Campbell Lake, Morton Lake, Strathcona Dam, Loveland Bay, Forbes Landing and McIvor Lake. This route is best travelled in a counter-clockwise direction and has many forest service campsites to choose from along the way.
Like most of British Columbia, Vancouver Island is rich in forested park land. From giant trees to unique rock formations, Vancouver Island parks offer a wide variety of landscapes and scenery. Whether exploring these areas on foot, in a kayak or by car, the Vancouver Island Backroad Mapbooks 9th edition includes 168 walk-in, vehicle-accessible and marine parks to explore.
Sooke Potholes Provincial Park
Famous for the deep rock pools carved naturally in the bedrock along the Sooke River by the last ice-age millions of years ago, this park is popular with nature enthusiasts, white water paddlers and hikers alike. The water in this park is incredibly clear, making it an ideal spot to view the annual salmon run.
Strathcona Provincial Park
Designated in 1911, Strathcona is the oldest provincial park in British Columbia. It is also the largest park on Vancouver Island at 248,669 hectares (614,475 acres). Enjoy hiking or camping during the summer months, and cross country skiing or snowshoeing during the winter. There are also day-use areas, picnic sites and 150 climbing routes of various difficulties in the Crest Creek Crags area.
Rec Site Adventures
Vancouver Island is full of outdoor recreation and camping areas, ranging from full-service camping sites packed with amenities to remote, boat-access only sites. Whether you are looking for a family-friendly RV accessible site or a secluded marine site, the 9th edition of the Vancouver Island Backroad Mapbook includes over 120 rec sites to choose from.
Bald Mountain Recreation Site
This small, secluded site on the shore of Cowichan Lake is accessible only by boat or canoe. The effort it takes to get to this area is worth it, as trails lead from the site to the top of Bald Mountain where the views of the lake are incredible. The calm waters in this area are perfect for paddling, fishing, or swimming.
Junction Pool Recreation Site
This semi-open, grassy site contains seven campsites with trail access to the pools at the confluence of the Adam and Eve rivers in Sayward. This area is popular for swimming, kayaking and fishing and has easy access from East Main Road off Highway 19.
With vast forested and marine landscapes, Vancouver Island offers beautiful hiking and multi-use trails for all skill levels. Whether you are interested in a casual day-hike or looking for a multi-day hike with varying terrain, the Vancouver Island Backroad Mapbook 9th edition outlines almost 300 possible routes spanning over 5,000 kilometres.
West Coast Trail
This world-famous trail attracts hikers from all over Canada and beyond. Built as a lifesaving trail for shipwrecked sailors, hikers will be rewarded with untouched wilderness, beautiful waterfalls and remote beaches. Because this trail is so popular, it is only open from May 1st to September 30th and requires a reservation to start the trail from June 15th to September 15th. Wilderness camping is found all along the trail, and there are a few luxury campsites as well. The trail travels along difficult terrain and spans 75 km (46 miles) as a one-way trek from Bamfield to Port Renfrew.
Saltspring Island Mountain Bike Trails
Just a 35-minute ferry ride from Victoria, Saltspring Island has an extended trail system on the southwestern portion of the island, surrounded by a beautiful mountainous landscape. The trails climb up and around Mount Bruce and Hope Hill and range from 1 to 10 km (0.5-6 mi) in length. Along with expansive views of the ocean, these trails pass by stunning waterfalls and remnants of early farming communities.
With several rarely used logging roads as well as designated OHV trails, Vancouver Island provides some great ATV riding with unparalleled ocean views and expansive mountainous terrain. The 9th edition of the Vancouver Island Backroad Mapbook includes 25 of the best ATV routes spanning over 1,000 kilometres.
North Vancouver Island ORV Route
Beginning in Campbell River and following upwards of 1,000 km (620 mi) of logging roads and trails through thick forest, the North Vancouver ORV Route has only recently become a designated ORV-friendly route (with a valid Operation Permit). There are several route options and starting points, including Willis Road in Campbell River, Sayward, Gold River or Woss. It is possible to camp en route or venture into town to enjoy roofed accommodations and other amenities.
Tansky OHV Area
The Tansky OHV Area and Boyd’s Pit make up the largest official area for ATVs and dirt bikes on Vancouver Island. This area can be accessed from Highway 14 west of Sooke and contains around 50 km (30 mi) of mostly intermediate to technical routes. Many of the trails have rocky creek crossings where extra care should be taken.
With elevations reaching up to 2,000 metres (6,500 ft) above sea level, Vancouver Island offers some exciting snowmobiling during the winter months. The most popular areas to snowmobile on the Island are on decommissioned logging roads or in the backcountry areas of some of the local mountains. In the new 9th edition of the Vancouver Island Backroad Mapbook, we have listed 24 of the most popular snowmobile routes along with some backcountry huts to use as warming zones or for a multi-day adventure.
McLaughlin Ridge Area
This large riding area covers about 30 km (18.5 mi) of mountainous terrain from Labour Day Lake, over McKinley Peak, and on through the Yellow Creek logging division. Access to this route is near Port Alberni, from the Yellow Creek Main. There are two survival shelters in the area which are maintained by the Mid Island Sno Blazers.
Mount Adrian Snowmobile Area / Rodgers Ridge Cabin
From the north, the Granite Main road provides the best access to the Rodger’s Ridge Cabin, which is found east of Lupin Mountain and contains a wooden stove, platforms for sleeping, and emergency food and medical supplies. From the cabin, there is vast sub-alpine and alpine terrain to explore, including the peak of Mount Adrian which offers panoramic views of the Coastal Mountain Range and the Strait of Georgia.
While Vancouver Island is most famous for its orca whales, there are plenty of other species of aquatic and land animals to view. From seals and otters to black bear, deer and various songbirds, there are wildlife viewing opportunities across the entire island. Whether you prefer to take part in a guided whale watching tour or hike through a wildlife conservation area, the new 9th edition of the Vancouver Island Backroad Mapbook provides over 100 detailed listings of wildlife viewing adventures.
South of Bamfield at the end of the Keeha Bay Trail sits this hidden gem of wild beaches and remote wilderness. Keeha Bay is home to bald eagles, hawks, osprey, seals, sea lions and Orca whales. From March – April you may even spot the migrating gray whales swimming through the Juan de Fuca Strait.
Located off the Skutz Falls Road in Cowichan Valley, these scenic falls were a natural impediment to salmon before the fish ladder was built. This area is a great place to view spawning salmon as well as the many eagles and black bear who feed on the salmon in the fall. There is also an abundance of deer in this area.
From the well-known Mount Washington Ski Resort to the remote logging roads and trails that can be cross-country skied or snowshoed, there are a variety of winter adventures to embark on once the snow begins to fall in the winter months. In the 9th edition of the Vancouver Island Backroad Mapbook, we have covered 23 of the most popular winter adventure routes and areas on the Island.
Located in Strathcona Provincial Park, this area is popular for backcountry skiers, boarders, and snowshoers. The main access is found from the Paradise Meadows trailhead off the Nordic Lodge Road in the Mount Washington Ski Area. There are also 55 km (34 mi) of groomed cross-country ski trails located nearby.
Once a groomed ski hill covering over 350 hectares (865 acres), Green Mountain is now a Wildlife Management Zone for the endangered Vancouver Island Marmot. What remains is a beautiful alpine area for backcountry skiing, as well as old roads and trails for cross country skiing and snowshoeing. About halfway up the mountain, backcountry enthusiasts can explore the remains of the old ski lodge.
To learn more about these attractions and the countless other adventures included in our Vancouver Island Backroad Mapbook 9th edition, make sure to head over to our Products page to order a copy for yourself!
Here at Backroad Mapbooks, we are also very excited to announce the new release of BRMBmaps.com. Loaded with tens of thousands of Adventure Points of Interest (POI’s), hundreds of thousands of kilometres of trails, paddling routes, and ATV/Snowmobile trails in addition to rec sites and fishing locations, BRMBmaps.com is your one-stop Outdoor Adventure trip planning tool!
To browse our online map or begin planning your next outdoor adventure on Vancouver Island or anywhere in Canada, head over to BRMBmaps.com.