Biking the Forbidden Plateau Trails
I’m starting to spend more time on the bike again. Not a lot, just more. My body hasn’t been happy trail running lately. So Tuesday afternoon I loaded up the bike and Chewie the dog (a.k.a. Chewbacca ) to hit some of the Forbidden Plateau trails.
Nymph Falls Park seems to be the most popular parking spot for riders wanting to access the Plateau. It’s a relatively easy climb (or shuttle) up Forbidden Plateau Road to Two Sheiks, Cabin Fever and many other trails.
From the top, all trails flow downward toward Comox Lake. But needing a more dog friendly access I opted to start below the old Bevan townsite. Built essentially as a mining town, Bevan was constructed in the early 1900’s. Today the only evidence remaining is the few moss covered concrete forms seen in the #7 Mine area.
A quick warmup through Bevan brought us to the Comox Lake dam. Like Bevan townsite, the original dam was built in the early 1900’s. Its main purpose was to provide electricity for the areas coal mines. Today B.C. Hydro maintains the dam and its trails. Though most trails are designated footpaths, the well known Bear Bait is bike friendly and serves as a connector from the lake to Nymph Falls Park. A few minutes from the dam is Boston Main, our route upwards. On the bike, the Main a.ka. B21 is really the only viable way up from the lake unless you have above average masochistic tendencies and view hike-a-bike as a good time.
Destination: Two Sheiks
Our destination this time up, Two Sheiks. Offering something for everyone, it starts off a little choppy and twisty then takes on a little more flow as you descend. There are also a couple good gap jumps for those inclined to get some airtime ( no worries, there are chicken lines around them ).
A leisurely trip through Two Sheiks with a photo stop at the viewpoint led to a good rip through Cabin Fevers berms and into the slightly more technical Slither. Nearly perfect conditions with barely a hint of mud through most of the run left me wanting more. So, back up for round two. Heading into Iron Horse can feel a bit like you’ve been misdirected to the bunny hill when you came expecting some black diamond. But patience is rewarded and after a few hundred metres we’re plunging downward on some steep, loose descents.
Everything mellows out as we roll into Rudy’s and across Kwai Bridge. The bridge is a good water stop for furry friends. There is usually water well into summer. On through Rudy’s and Dust Witch, we drop into the bottom of B21and head back towards the lake
The trails were devoid of traffic and we ran into only one older gentleman hiking near the bottom of B21 . On a warm sunny afternoon with trails all to myself it was hard to call it a day. But with over 30k and almost a thousand metres of vertical behind us, I knew Chewie was done. A quick swim in the Puntledge River (just the dog, it’s too early in the season for me) and we were homeward bound.
Comox Valley Offers Great Bike Trails
There is a multitude of fantastic trails in the area, so anyone wanting to check it out would benefit by picking up the Forbidden Plateau Trail Map at any of the local bike shops. Probably the best bike related 5 bucks you’ll ever spend (unless of course, you pick up the Cumberland map). Some very industrious trail builders work the Plateau and Cumberland as well. There are usually new trails that don’t show on the maps. So don’t be afraid to ask questions at the local shops (and maybe spend a few $$ while you’re there).
Please remember your dog needs more frequent water stops to cool down than you do. Most of the year there are plenty of water holes if you know where to find them. But if you are unfamiliar with the area, or riding late in the summer season, make you have some extra H2O in your hydration pack for your companion. A collapsible bowl makes things a little easier as well. Happy Trails!
About the author: Mark Hayes and Chewbacca obviously enjoy their time in the Comox Valley – and appreciate the beautiful outdoors that surrounds us.