Distance: Over 60 km
Time: 1 – 10 hours
Elevation Gain: N/A
Elevation Loss: N/A
Technical Rating: Beginner – Expert
Physical Rating: Easy – Hard
Season: Year round
Permit Required: No
The Hornby Island trail network packs a lot of incredible trails into a relatively small area. High-quality trailwork makes this a must-ride destination. The trails are ribbons of gold flowing between beautifully spaced trees across the gentle slope running down from the cliff overlooking Denman Island to Vancouver Island in the west. Any of the easy and moderate trails can be ridden in either direction while the black-rated trails will have sections too steep to ascend. This gives the network an incredible number of awesome options for loops and variations. In general the trails have few technical trail features. Your Mom is the exception, with a series of jumps and drops and a crazy step up/step down constructed entirely of wood. Otherwise the builders have restricted themselves to building a few bridges here and there to cross creeks and places that get flooded in the spring. The area has several interesting features that have been incorporated into the trails. Spasm Chasm has a deep creek bed that runs beside the trail and used be the trail itself. It’s about 6 feet deep and a few feet wide; you can still see where the old trail drops in and then emerges from the chasm. While Hornby remains a place less ridden, it’s important to keep your eyes open for other bikers when you’re riding and remember to give the right of way to climbers.
There are paths that follow almost all the major roads on the island and allow you to access the trails without having to drive to the trailhead. Make sure you get a map from Lucie at the Bike Shop so you know where these are. She can fill you in on any new work that’s been done and recommend you some great places to ride. Sasha Lebaron and Tig Cross often ride from the Lix coffee shop in the market at 7 AM on Tuesdays. They’ve been building on the island for decades so don’t miss the chance. Check out the Hornby Island Mountain Bike Association Facebook page to keep up to date on rides.
Once you arrive on Hornby Island, you’ll quickly see how small a place it really is. Therefore, accessing the large network of mountain bike trails can be done virtually from any location on the Island and by bike. Grab a map and get the latest beta from Lucie at the Bike Shop, to begin exploring this awesome network of trails!
If you’re planning to leave your car at the Buckley Bay ferry terminal to cross without your vehicle, for your day trip or weekend exertion to Hornby Island, than you’ll be glad to know that there is pay parking next to the gas station for $7.80/day (2015 prices). The gate for the lot is locked from 10pm – 6am and you pay at the gas station. Alternatively, there is free parking at the lot across the street from the ferry terminal.
bikepirate rating: 5 Skulls
Starting form the Central Road parking near the Fire Hall head up Coltsfoot to Spasm Chasm and climb up to Yeoman’s and across to Northwind. Turn right and follow Northwind and then Katimavik to Hot Rims and start climbing up to the top of the cliff. Stop along the way to check out the view (and your email, there are no cell towers on Hornby). Drop down and ride Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride to Tadpole, through Chris and Brad’s to No Horses. This is probably the best way down the mountain, it has incredible flow. from the end of No Horses ride Washing Machine up to Northwind and then down back onto Coltsfoot and back to the parking lot.
From the Slade parking area ride up the Slade Connector to Coltsfoot and around to Northwind and up to the top of the cliff. From the intersection of Slalom and Farside take Farside over to Purgatory and ride down through Bitchin’ Camaro and Milo’s Meadow over to Spasm Chasm. Turn right and ride down Spasm Chasm to Coltsfoot and then take the Beulah Creek Trail back to Slade road.
Begin climbing at Strachan road and head up the Summit trail to the intersection with the Cliff Trail. Turn about 180 degrees and head down the Outer Ridge trail. Ride fast, or stop and enjoy the magnificent view as you descend. Turn right onto the Middle Bench trail and head back towards the Summit Trail. Cross it and follow Beaver Slide down to Strachan Road.
Hornby Island Trails
Your Mom: Fun trail if you like bigger stunts. First drop is a few feet down and a few feet out. There’s a wooden step-up drop that is tricky. The jump is more like a quarter pipe, and the pad at the top is tricky, thought it’s a bout 6 feet wide. Luckily there are no gaps, they’ve filled in the drop and step up with wood. There are a couple of older stunts where the wood is getting a bit old, so if its been a while since this was written, you should check things out. Really you should check things out anyway. This trail isn’t something you can hit blind.
4 Dead Aliens: A super fun rip on the way down. There are one or two steeper sections but this trail can be ridden in either direction and is just a blast. The ride up is more fun and challenging than the “double track” NOrthwind. The trail is a curvy snake of gold that you can ride at a good speed, so if you’re on the way up, keep an eye open for people coming down at speed, and do the same if you’re on the way up.
Devil’s Kitchen: With the exception of a couple of steep sections this trail isn’t too crazy. However the steep parts have a bit of exposure so you want to feel comfortable hanging out over the back of your bike. There is a cool ride over a log right near the end where the trail drops into 4 dead aliens, so watch out. You can’t carry a lot of speed over this log.
Bitchin’ Camaro: There really isn’t anything advanced about this trail once you’re past the beginning move. The trail starts with a steep roll-in that curves off to the left near the bottom. After this the trail twists across the hillside and is more of a blue.
Purgatory: I think that this trail must get it’s name from the way it climbs for a fair distance before it starts descending and then climbs again. But you’re well rewarded for your work. The trail turns downhill after the intersection with Far Side and then rips downhill. It’s never steep, but the corners are well laid-out and the straight-aways are pumpable so you’re never really pedalling, and you’re always flying. This is a great trail to ride into Bitchin’ Camaro and down Milo’s Meadow to the Spasm Chasm.
Milo’s Meadow: This trail’s elevation gain is practically nil. It starts a bit downhill and then climbs and falls. It’s not as flowy as some of the other trails. It’s more of a traverse than a descent.
Spasm Chasm: Following a creek bed, or perhaps just funnelling water this trail has enough of a grade to make for an excellent ride. The trail pumps from one side of the creek bed to the other and just begs the rider to go fast.
Test Tube: a blue square, this trail is loads of fun. Smooth, twisting and ripping between the trees all the way down the hill. It’s a good option coming down on 4 dead aliens, and it takes you over to No Horses. Which is a good thing.
Furry Freak: Super fun trail that will flow in either direction. It’s low angle but steady grade makes for a quick descent and ripping between the trees makes for a fun technical challenge when you’re at speed.
Spasm Chasm: The South trailhead takes you down a slightly steeper slope than the north. This is a bit more important when you’re climbing than when you’re descending. The trail was part of the xc race loop and gets its name from the chasm of a creek bed that the trail used to dive into. You’ll see the where the old trail drops in. The chasm was over the rider’s heads and would have been a gnarly technical challenge for the best of riders. Especially given the equipment available when the race was being run. The trail now runs beside the chasm and close enough that you can look inside and see what the riders were dealing with. The trail makes for a great ride in either direction as you can really pump through the sections that criss-cross the creekbed at the bottom.
Walton: The climb up Colt’s Foot and Northwind is a go-to for riders hitting the island for the first time, but after you’ve ascended once you’ll start looking for the variations. Walton makes for a good climbing trail. Turn right onto Colt’s foot right out of the parking lot and the trail will be on your left while you’re looking at the Fire Hall on your right. The trail is easy to follow and keeps to a very easy grade.
*No Horses: You rip right into this trail from Chris and Brad’s and you won’t have time to read the sign before you bank into a half-pipe gully and start threading your way down like you’re gunning for the heart of the Death Star. *This is Hornby’s signature trail and it’s killer. It’s well-designed and you can really carry your speed all the way down.
Hot Rims: This trail runs from where it meets Katimavik and the cliff trail. This is the bottom of Katimavik, and the Cliff rail becomes a hiking trail from this point. Hot Rims climbs from here up a shoulder on the cliff before descending to the Cold Deck trail where you’ll find the trailhead to Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride. Hot Rims is a sporty climb when you ride it in this direction. There are plenty of short climbs and some are quite technical. The intermediate rider will be quite challenged to climb this blue trail. It is a blast to descend from the should down to the intersection with Katimavik, but you lose elevation quickly. Hot Rimes is a very useful trail, tying together several climbing and descending routes.
Northwind: This climbing trail is dead easy and a very comfortable climb for all ability levels. It leaves the parking lot and heads up to the ridge at a very easy grade. If you climb it past the fork with Heli1 it becomes more of a singletrack trail. It then meets the Katimavik trailhead. Katimavik then heads down the hill and the NOrthwind becomes hiking only.
Katimavik: Was built by volunteers, part of the government sponsored youth involvement program. The trail connects the end of Nothwind with Hot Rims and the trail down to the road. Katimavik is another example of first rate building. It’s easy grade and wide corners mean that you don’t have to pedal or brake very much while you’re riding the trail. It flows very well and is a great trail.
First Circle: This trail climbs from where it forks from the slalom trail. It’s a climb from there up to where First Circle ends when it meets Purgatory. It makes a great way to cut off the climb up to Purgatory. Instead of riding Slalom and the beginning of Four Lost Aliens, and then climbing the first section of Purgatory, you can just cut across the hillside and get to the fun part of Purgatory.
Colt’s Foot: This is a steady climb, easy to manage for the beginner. There is one technical section where the trail parallels itself because the original section has become a creek bed. The new section is amazing, especially if you’re descending. The corners are bermed and you can really lean into them and generate a lot of speed. Have an eye for others who might be ascending.
Tadpole: Is an easy up or down. Fully rippable it makes a great part of the ride from Mr. Toad’s down through No Horses.
Chris and Brad’s: This trail is fun. What can I say that I haven’t already? Just get out there and ride it.
Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride: This trail starts out of a lovely little clearing beside the Cold Deck Trail. It climbs a bit at first, though less than Purgatory, before you drop your seat and fly down the hill. The trail is great for carrying speed and pumping through the rolling terrain. The intersection with Purgatory is easy to spot, but the Furry Freak Trailhead is a bit hard to see. Ride a bit slower if you’re looking for it.
Logging Railroad: Logging railroad is a more technical challenge with a few more roots than the smoother, more buffed trails. It is also a bit difficult to follow as it meets up with a trail called French Connection that links to French Road, but isn’t on the map at the moment. It does make for a fun climbing alternative so long as you’re up for a bit more of a technical challenge
Cliff Edge: The trail is mostly in the trees, but there are a few beautiful views out across the water. You’re looking over Denman Island at the mountain ranges on the island. The trail rolls up and down, all while it is steadily climbing up to the trailhead for Devil’s Ktchen.