Stage 17 - Nanaimo to Cowichan Bay



Distance: 112 km
Riding Time: 2.5 hrs

Photo by Wilf Ratzburg


Overview
Stage 17 contains some of the best rural, country-side roads roads on Southern Vancouver Island. Along this stage you'll find farms, wineries, small seaside towns, and many different First Nations communities.

Special Note
None. 

Meetup Location
There are many different spots to meetup in Nanaimo along the waterfront, and Bastion Sqare Park is a local favorite. 

Food and Coffee
There are so many great options for grabbing lunch or a snack along Stage 17. The Crow and Gate Pub offeres the usual burger and beer options, the Old Town Bakery in Ladysmith has some of the best cinnamon buns in all of Canada, and the Rock Cod Cafe in Cowichan Bay has you covered for seafood.

Scenery3 / 5
This stage offers views of forests around Nanaimo Lakes Road, the farm land all over Cowichan Valley, and the seaside village of Cowichan Bay. 

Traffic4 / 5
Traffic can be hit and miss depending on the day and time of year. Generally, traffic will be very low. But on Saturdays and during peak vacation periods, it can get pretty backed up near Cowichan Bay.

Difficulty1 / 5
All of the roads on this stage connect together well and can be navigated by GPS with ease. If you get lost, just keep heading South with the water on your left.

Road Conditions4 / 5
Most roads are in great condition, with the exception of a few rough sections. Nothing to be concerned about, though. Enjoy the road and the sights.


 Points of Interest
1. Mount Prevost
Located near Duncan, this mountain offers some exceptional views of the entire Cowichan Valley and the many different lakes in the area. The ride to the top is fairly easy on a dirt road, however it can get confusing with all of the different spurs off the mainline, so a map is recommended. Once you arrive at the parking area, it's a short 50m hike to the summit. And don't trust Google Maps to navigate you out of there. For some reason, it directs you through some very challenging (and gated) service roads that often become dead-ends.
 
2. Cowichan Bay Village
What used to be a fishing village and lumber town, Cowichan Bay Village has gone on to become largely a tourist and retirement location for those who love the ocean. It's a fantastic little place to park and walk around for the afternoon with great food options and lots to see, including the many accessible docks and viewpoints around the bay.

3. The Dinghy Doc Pub
Moored off of Protection Island, this floating pub can be reached by taking a small foot ferry from the South end of Nanaimo's inner harbour. The ferry costs $9 for a round-trip and leaves at 10 past the hour, every hour.

4. Genoa Bay
This is one of those unique locations on Vancouver Island that is off the beaten path and just out of the way enough that many people never visit. There's not a lot here save for a small restaraunt, a tiny corner store, and a handfull of float homes and docks. It's a small float village at the end of a long road that's perfect for taking a rest with a coffee and a used book from the store.

5. Old Stone Butter Church
Built in the mid-1800s, this church has remianed abandoned for over 100 years and is considered by many to be haunted.