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Port Renfrew-Lake Cowichan Circle Route


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#1 Mike K.

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Posted 28 April 2009 - 01:09 PM

The "circle route" through Port Renfrew to Lake Cowichan will receive black top this summer. The province has invested quite a bit into this seldom used route, but it makes sense given the recent sale of Western Forest Product land to private firms that plan to redevelop the properties for market housing and resorts.

I travelled this route two weeks ago and it is currently hard packed gravel of very good quality that was trucked in from Hwy 18 (remember the loose ashphalt fiasco?). For much of the way you can drive at a decent pace of 80km/h whereas before you were limited to whatever you could mustre on a pothole filled logging road.

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#2 Bernard

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Posted 28 April 2009 - 01:33 PM

Was this somewhere in the media? Interesting idea to have happen.

#3 Mike K.

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Posted 28 April 2009 - 02:32 PM

Several years ago the media reported the road would be turned over to taxpayers and eventually paved so the plan is now being put into action.

I was surprised, to say the very least, that the road is already hard packed gravel (that's almost as smooth as asphalt!). I'm sure the road receives more traffic in the summer months, but I counted less than a dozen other vehicles throughout the entire ~50km trek (it was a Saturday).

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#4 Nparker

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Posted 28 April 2009 - 02:43 PM

Interesting idea to have happen.


Pure coincidence that a provincial election campaign is underway I am sure.;)

#5 vandervalk

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Posted 28 April 2009 - 06:17 PM

I'm confused. I just drove this route less than two months ago and it was fully paved, save for about 10km which was hard packed gravel but quite enjoyable.

From what I know it was completed last year.

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#6 sebberry

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Posted 28 April 2009 - 06:22 PM

I'm so upset by this and the sale of the lands. I drove it a few times the last few years and the gravel road helped to contribute to the isolation that one gets when they take a trip up there.

The last thing that area needs is too much tourist action going on. Things like this need to be preserved because once it is gone, its gone forever. People love living here partly because we have these isolated areas to escape to.

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#7 LJ

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Posted 28 April 2009 - 08:18 PM

I travelled this route two weeks ago and it is currently hard packed gravel of very good quality that was trucked in from Hwy 18 (remember the loose ashphalt fiasco?). For much of the way you can drive at a decent pace of 80km/h whereas before you were limited to whatever you could mustre on a pothole filled logging road.


I travelled this route last summer on a motorcycle (cruiser) and I sure couldn't maintain anywhere near 80k. If there was a vehicle in front of you they would spit up gravel in your face as well. Sure puts a quick end to tailgating.:)
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#8 Bernard

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Posted 28 April 2009 - 08:55 PM

I'm so upset by this and the sale of the lands. I drove it a few times the last few years and the gravel road helped to contribute to the isolation that one gets when they take a trip up there.

The last thing that area needs is too much tourist action going on. Things like this need to be preserved because once it is gone, its gone forever. People love living here partly because we have these isolated areas to escape to.


The land is currently intensively managed private forest lands, the core purpose of the land at the moment is to provide maximum return for the owners.

As to the sale of the lands, they could have been sold at any time if the company was willing to lose crown timber tenures that were granted as part of the Tree Farm License.

If the land is to be preserved, it has to be purchased from the company at a fair market value, otherwise it is their business what they do with it and none of ours to meddle with their ability to make a living from it.

#9 Mike K.

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Posted 28 April 2009 - 09:13 PM

I'm confused. I just drove this route less than two months ago and it was fully paved, save for about 10km which was hard packed gravel but quite enjoyable.


That was the hard packed gravel that you were on. Black top is asphalt that will be laid this summer. Prior to the hard top much of the route was like your average logging road.

I travelled this route last summer on a motorcycle (cruiser) and I sure couldn't maintain anywhere near 80k. If there was a vehicle in front of you they would spit up gravel in your face as well.


There's only a small portion that is gravel now and the rest is decent hard top. Most of the vehicles driving the route were going at quite the clip (some even faster than me!).

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#10 mat

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Posted 28 April 2009 - 09:23 PM

That was the hard packed gravel that you were on. Black top is asphalt that will be laid this summer. Prior to the hard top much of the route was like your average logging road.



There's only a small portion that is gravel now and the rest is decent hard top. Most of the vehicles driving the route were going at quite the clip (some even faster than me!).


Mike, or others - how long does that route take for a nice family drive from Vic, around that road, and back home, with the current road conditions?

#11 sebberry

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Posted 28 April 2009 - 10:16 PM

Mike, or others - how long does that route take for a nice family drive from Vic, around that road, and back home, with the current road conditions?


4.5-5 hrs with a few short stops.

Used to be a nice peaceful remote drive with nobody around and plenty of spots to stop and take in the beauty and remoteness. Not anymore :(

The gravel logging road was, for the most part, passable at speeds of 50Km/hr with stretches where you could go faster. Now there are speed limits posted all over the place. It really wasn't as bad as people make it out to sound.

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#12 sebberry

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Posted 28 April 2009 - 11:10 PM

Few pics from my last couple of trips up there:
http://ssb-tech.com/pmcr/

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#13 VicHockeyFan

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Posted 29 April 2009 - 06:03 AM

Mike, or others - how long does that route take for a nice family drive from Vic, around that road, and back home, with the current road conditions?


8 hours if you are a mean family.

#14 sebberry

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Posted 29 April 2009 - 11:07 AM

8 hours? were you on a bicycle? :P

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#15 Mike K.

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Posted 29 April 2009 - 12:30 PM

It really wasn't as bad as people make it out to sound.


When grated by the forest companies it wasn't bad, but in between gratings it could take as long as three hours to get to Lake Cowichan from Port Renfrew. I got caught up in that mess a couple of years ago.

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#16 sebberry

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Posted 29 April 2009 - 12:51 PM

My experience was that it was rough, but certainly not 3 hours rough. Even when the logging folks were on strike. But then again if someone takes a Honda Civic up there they deserve to get stuck :P

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#17 Mike K.

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Posted 29 April 2009 - 01:16 PM

I was in a Jeep. Fully capable to handle the roads, but the potholes were relentless and some almost a foot deep. 20km/h was the max for much of the road. That was in the winter, of course, where potholes were at their worst.

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#18 mat

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Posted 29 April 2009 - 03:31 PM

8 hours if you are a mean family.


LOL :)

#19 mat

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Posted 29 April 2009 - 04:07 PM

Question is, for those who have done this route recently, would a front wheel drive Honda Element handle the road? How long should we plan to make the drive (with a few stops) - and any highlights to look out for?

#20 Mike K.

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Posted 29 April 2009 - 04:13 PM

You won't have ANY problems with an Element. But remember that you will travel a little way on gravel road, so ensure your tires have decent tread in order to avoid the potential for a flat.

I'd stop by the big tree (can't miss it -- there's a sign on the road) and if you're up for it venture off along logging road spurs to check out some quiet areas that would be great for a picnic.

Vic >> Port Renfrew 1:15 hours
PR >> Lake Cowichan 1:25 hours (with a few stops)
Lake Cowichan >> Victoria 1:30 hours

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