Mountain Biking on Mount Washington - Courtenay, Vancouver Island
Activity:If you're on Vancouver Island and like downhill mountain-biking, here's the place to go: Mount Washington. They have two chairlifts (Eagle Quad and the Hawk High-speed Six Pack) that take you up to 15 trails ranging in difficulty from Easy Green to Expert Black.
There are so many stunts on the blue and black trails, it isn't funny any more. Some great runs for stunts are Big Brother that has jumps the whole way down, and Helter Skelter which is a ladder-crazy trail. Mount Washington also has a dual-slalom course, where you and a friend can race it out for lunch. You should've seen this one stunt: it started on a 10-foot cliff and teeter tottered down about three or four flights. It felt like a freefall.
What I really like about Mount Washington is the way they use the natural forest and surroundings to create obstacles. If you want to get away from the ordinary and reach the extraordinary, then check out Mount Washington because it is awesome.
If biking isn't your bag, try hiking. My family took the chairlift up to the top and hiked around the Top of the World Trails and then walked down the mountainside. They liked it for the most part, until the trail disintegrated into nothing and Jen got her new Puma runners wet. Then all hell broke loose.
Just a couple of minutes from Mount Washington is Courtney. It's a cozy town with lots of nice restaurants and lots to do. It made my Mom's day when we stumbled across a Starbucks tucked away in a shopping mall. Coleman wouldn't get out of the toy store. Courtney has a toy store with a ship's bow sticking out the front of it-no joke. We capped off our day with dinner at the Old House restaurant. Dad must've been in a good mood; he let me order steak.
Age group:All ages
Expense rating:Check the website below for current rates, but when I went it cost me $28 for a lift ticket.
:The trails on Mount Washington are well-marked and tons of fun to ride. While you're there keep your eyes open for the Vancouver Island Marmot. It kind of looks like a furry beaver and it's auburn coloured. Apparently they are North America's most endangered mammal. There are only 50 Vancouver Island Marmots left and most of them live on Mount Washington. They have a thing for ski hills. I saw one sun-tanning on a rock.
:There are not many places to eat on Mt. Washington in the summer. I ended up having beaver tails for lunch.
Details:Mount Washington is about 30 minutes away from Courtney. To get there, just follow the Inland Island Highway (#19), and take the 130 Exit. The mountain opens for biking in the end of June. They don't give a definite date for closing; I guess it depends on the weather.
If you don't have your bike handy, no problem, you can rent. They have all types of rental bikes. I actually had to rent my armour, because I forgot to bring it. If you've never ridden before, Mount Washington also has packages that include a lesson.