Getting to Port Alberni and Barkley Sound- Part I.
By HJEH Becker
From Port Alberni, on Vancouver Island, the Frances Barkley ferry will take you down the spectacular fjord of Alberni Inlet to the Broken Islands and Ucluelet. Experienced hikers who complete the gruelling West Coast Trail, can connect from Bamfield for the final leg into Port Alberni.
At Barkley Islands, kayaks are unloaded since the islands are best explored by paddle power. The best views of this area’s rich ocean marine life is from the kayak.
Ucluelet on southwest corner of Vancouver Island, is a drop-off point for cyclists who plan to travel along the 40 km long sandy Long Beach. Some cyclists will pull into campgrounds carved out of rain forests. Campsites were created by just uprooting trees. With the roots of trees acting as campsite fences, birds flit about providing their songs.
A bit further on, the rolling hills of Tofino appear. It is a great place for hauling out a kayak and paddling towards the magnificently large old growth trees on Meares Island with a girth that require two people to join hands to encompass the diameter of the tree.
Cyclists will enjoy a rainy cycle to Wikaninnish Inn for a gourmet breakfast and watch the stormy weather pass by or high tide on the rocks of this peninsula. Best time to come here is during fierce storms.
The trek from Downtown Vancouver to Horseshoe Bay is about an hour and a half cycle. There are a number of routes to select that lead to the Lions Gate Bridge. Then there is choice of routes to Horseshoe Bay and the B.C. Ferries services.
Marine Drive in West Vancouver will take you on a picturesque cycle along the Georgia Strait shoreline, past Lighthouse Park on a narrow road with rolling hills, trees, and with tight bends. Traffic is moderate and usually very courteous along a route
frequently used by randonneurs for their training rides.
Alternatively, connect to the Capilano Canyon Rd to Highway 99 (the Upper Level Highway). This route will provide a relatively wide shoulder along a busy highway cut into the mountainside.
After the ferry ride, the Island Highway and the Alberni Highway will take you past Cathedral Grove, a stand of old growth trees to Port Alberni – approximately a 75 km cycle.
Transit bus routes 257 (express service) or 250, will transport you from Downtown Vancouver to Horseshoe Bay and the B.C. Ferries service to Departure Bay on the Island by Nanaimo. Both of these buses are heavily used during spring and summer. Plan to be at the bus stop 1 hour ahead if you want to use the bike racks. From there, Island Bus Service will bring you to Port Alberni and beyond to Tofino.
Highways 99, Island Highway, and the Alberni Highway will connect you to Port Alberni or points beyond.