BC-101 | Sunshine Coast Highway
- Distance: 80.9 Miles (130.2 km)
- Rating: 3-A, The majority of the road is very gentle, but the highlight of the road is a solid 3 with a handful of 2’s south of the Saltery Bay Ferry. As with most Canadian road, the surface is pristine and immaculate. Ratings Explained »
- Travel: North to South for best results
- Start: Powell River, BC
- End: Horseshoe Bay, BC
- Fuel: Available in Powell River, or in the smattering of small communities on the southern end of the road
- Along the Way: Its worth stopping in one of the small towns between Sechelt and Gibsons to have a coffee and savor the moment. There is also a fantastic, tiny little cheap hotel in Roberts Creek called the Blue Sky Motel. If nothing else, be sure to get a Nanaimo Bar while in the area.
- Highlights: Spectacular Pacific Northwest Scenery, towering tree’s, ferry boats, fishing boats, barges, coastal communities, charming locals. This is definitely in our top-ten favorite roads we’ev ever enjoyed. As a whole, this road is not to be missed.
- Advisories: Mostly, things are pretty quiet on this road, but we’ve had problems with other motorcylists racing us off the ferries. There is also a fair bit of touristy traffic around the towns of Sechelt, Roberts Creek and Gibsons.
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SummaryMany years ago, the first time we visited Victoria Island we were approached by a local motorcyclist who struck up a conversation about our route before giving doling out the magnificent advice; “You are going to want to take the Nanaimo Ferry back to the mainland, but that would be stupid. Instead what you are going to do is ride farther north to Comox and then take the ferry to Powell River”. How could we not take such succinct advice? I turned out be some of the most informed we’ve ever received.
Typically we take the Little River-Powell River ferry from Comox to Powell River then ride south. Motorcycles get priority boarding, so being the first on means you are also the first off. So, you get unobstructed riding once the ferry docks.
Leaving Powell River, the road isn’t anything all that amazing, but the view is great as the road follows the coastline offering a great view of Texada Island to the west. The road turns inward and the road improves, as does the scenery. Looking south, you’ll be getting views of the beautiful Nelson Island. The road will end abruptly at Saltery Bay and you’ll be ready to catch the second Ferry. Plan to wait about an hour or so for the next ferry (depending on your rates of forward velocity).
The Saltery Bay-Earls Cove ferry is easily the most stunning ferry we’ve ever taken. Take advantage of the priority boarding and run immediately to the galley for a Nanaimo Bar, then head up to the upper deck where you’ll be able to take in the spectacular scenery. Craggy mountains tower impossibly straight-up out of the water as the ferry makes its way past fishing boats and log-barges hauling massive amounts of fresh lumber. Don’t hesitate getting back to the bikes so you are ready to rock as soon as the ferry gate drops – the next section of road is why you are here.
Immediately, the road climbs up a hill and dives into a narrow swath between towering pines and coastline. Fast, sweeping corners follow the contours of first, Ruby Lake, then the Sunshine Coast, sometimes cutting a narrow path between towering rock walls and the Straight of Georgia to the west. Minor elevation changes will have the bike dipping and climbing through apexes and sweeping corners. The unobstructed riding from being first off the ferry is purely glorious. The brilliance doesn’t end abruptly, but slowly eases as you begin to enter small coastal communities. In the town of Gibsons, keep a sharp eye out for the signs leading you to the Horseshoe Bay-Langdale ferry. A long descent takes you down to the port where you’ll eventually board a multi-story ferry that will take you towards Vancouver. From here you can head north up BC-99, the Sea-to-Sky highway, towards Whistler or into Vancouver. But here, you are no longer removed from the masses and all that comes with hoards of people.
Road Rating System
The first part of our rating describes how technical we feel that road is. Numbers one through five with five being the most technical and one being a more mellow road with few challenging corners. The second half of the rating is a letter grade. A rating of “A” would be a road that is in great condition and a grade-F would be a crumbly, slippery or degraded surface.