Fast & flowy tracks and breathtaking scenery—this is why mountain bikers worldwide consider the trails here to be some of the best in the world.
Nanaimo has quickly become one of the most popular spots on Vancouver Island for mountain biking. With an excellent selection of trails, a comfortable climate, creative trail builders, and ample support services, you are sure to have everything you need to enjoy your next ride. Bring your squad and explore the trails together or go solo and connect with a fantastic community of local riders.
With three major spots for mountain bike and downhill riding, all at various levels, Nanaimo will quickly become your go-to. Whether you hit the adrenaline-spiked singletrack or the XC trails, you’ll have world-class creature comforts to end your day.
Recently the crew from IFHT Films joined pro-riders Jackson Goldstone, Jordie Lunn and Katie Holden in Nanaimo for a gnarly good time. Take a look at this video of their #gnarnaimo experience.
Grab some big air on the jumps of Doumont Road—picture 10 feet drops and 100 foot stretches—or race down the singletrack past a blur of trees, pushing yourself as fast as you can on the black diamond runs, or take a casual cross-country ride and enjoy the view, the conversation, and the camaraderie. Plenty of spots for big-thrill students, and with good bailouts in case you have second thoughts.
Riders call it one of the nicest Vancouver Island mountain bike trail networks, with fantastic tracks to explore over a weekend and something new every time you come back. Grab a map at a bike shop and plan for an afternoon, a day, or a week on the Doumont Trails in Nanaimo’s wacky wilderness playground.
- Primary Trail Type: All-Mountain & Downhill
- Trails: 63
- Total Distance: 47.92 km
- Total Descent: 2,289 m
- Highest Trailhead: 455 m
Westwood Lake Trails
One of Nanaimo’s most popular multi-purpose trails, Westwood Lake is just a few minutes from downtown, and offers excellent lines for expert riders and gorgeous tracks for XC and casual riders enjoying the sport at their own speed. Park in the lot and warm up with a loop around the lake, then pick a run and start the fun.
Legalize It! – one of the first authorized trails in Nanaimo – has sweet XC and tight singletrack, with K2 and Binx each offering a good climb and a great ride. In the summer, Westwood is a popular spot for a dip after your ride, and as a multi-use park with an excellent off-leash area for the pups to run, there’s truly something for everyone in your group.
- Primary Trail Type: All-Mountain & Downhill
- Trails: 9
- Total Distance: 6.77 km
- Total Descent: 2,162 m
- Highest Trailhead: 211 m
Stevie Smith Bike Park
A tribute to a fallen Canadian World Cup winner, this park features everything there is to love about riding, right in the middle of the city at Beban Park. Expert riders can test their skills and show off their abilities on the twists and turns of this high energy track, while newer riders can learn how to create momentum, manage the bumps and jumps, and develop the skills to become better trail riders and XC experts.
Called one of the most exceptional pump tracks in Canada, the Stevie Smith Bike Park is an excellent way to get in a ride when time is a factor, try out a new technique to see how you like it, or watch other riders as they practice – and show off – their style.
While the Nanaimo mountain biking community is well represented, there are plenty of other ways to enjoy the city on two feet or four wheels.
Off the Bike
There’s more to Nanaimo than world-class mountain biking – treat yourself to our abundance of restaurants featuring local flavours served with style. Go on an ale-venture on the BC Ale Trail, visiting Island communities and tasting craft-brewed excellence in every glass.
Visit our unique boutiques and big-brand shopping centres, or explore the great outdoors – hiking around Saysutshun, strolling the Harbourfront Walkway, whale-watching on the Salish Sea, zipping among the trees, or bungy jumping off a bridge.
Casinos and galleries, live theatre and modern cinema, pools, lakes, rivers, and an ocean. The thrill of a lifetime is waiting for you in Nanaimo.
How to Ride Nanaimo
Grab a taste of Nanaimo’s mountain biking trails with a quick visit, or plan a weekend or week-long adventure to fully enjoy yourself.
Enjoy a two-day trip with your favourite riding partners or on your own – the Nanaimo trails aren’t ridiculously busy, and you’ll meet a few local riders who share your passion. Ride your ride and have a great time.
Breakfast of Champions
Your day starts as the sun rises over Nanaimo, a clear omen of what will become a memorable weekend. Pushing yourself out of the comfy bed in your room at the Inn on Long Lake might not be the hardest thing you do today, but it’s definitely up there. Take advantage of the continental breakfast, then head over to one of our many well-equipped bike shops to pick up anything you’ve forgotten and to check out the inventory of new bikes and accessories – just in case it’s time to upgrade. Remember to grab a Nanaimo mountain bike trail map, then set out for your adventure, less than 15 minutes away.
Afternoon at Doumont
Explore the network of trails at Doumont. There’s a fantastic ride for every member of your group, from the friend who just got their first bike last week to the pro who looks at every stump and bump to figure out how they can get the most air. Start with ASOP (stands for All Season Outdoor Player) – a black diamond 1.5Km ride with plenty of technical sections and the most amazing view of the city. No matter what the weather, you’re here to ride all day. After ASOP, take a run down Hayden – a relaxed Blue with some technical downhill and a quick climb; ride up Big Rock for an easy climb; navigate the roots and rocks on Monkeys in the Mist; or get a bit of everything on the 10.6Km All-Mountain route.
Evening – Cleaning Up and Chowing Down
Once you’ve pushed yourself as far as you can go, ride back to the parking lot and gear down, then head towards the LandLubber Pub – there’s a self-serve carwash across the road, where you can blow most of the trails off your bikes. Once the rides are clean and secure, stop into the Landlubber to treat yourself to a deep-fried pickle and an ice-cold beverage, then tuck into a plate of fish tacos, basket of wings, or a rib tower – share with the group or enjoy it all on your own.
After supper, head back to the Inn to charge up the GoPro, check your times on Strava, and rest up for day two of your Nanaimo MTB Adventure.
Better than Brunch
You don’t have to get up too early to make it for breakfast at Gabriel’s Gourmet Café in Downtown Nanaimo – they serve it until 3pm – but you’ll want to get there early so you can ride the rest of the day. Fill up on tasty concoctions – coconut-milk pancakes with roasted apples, scrambled eggs with pulled pork and aged cheddar, or surprise yourself with the weekend benny special – and wash it down with excellent coffee, served by the friendliest people. After your meal, drive over to Beban Park to explore the Stevie Smith Memorial park to practice your techniques in the skills park and pumptrack, chatting with other riders to learn new ways to master the singletrack and new tricks to blow up your Instagram. #ExploreNanaimo
Afternoon at Westwood
If your time at the skills park inspired you to look at new gear, or you need a quick tune-up or repair before hitting the trails today, you’ll find anything you need just down the road at Pacific Rim Bicycle. Next stop – Westwood Lake, not even ten minutes away from Pacific Rim.
Park in the lot and unpack your gear, then ease into the ride with a quick loop around the lake: a leisurely 5.7Km with only one real incline. Halfway around the lake you’ll find access to the trails of Westwood Ridges. Start your climb up Lower Binx, a gradual incline that connects you to K2 North, Lower Shenanigans, and Binx, then climb back up via Kilpatrick. This might be the most photogenic park in the world, so be sure to take plenty of shots to share with your friends, making them jealous while they’re at home on the couch.
Evening – Pub Grub
A good meal and a cold drink is the perfect way to end a hard day of riding, and just a few minutes away from Westwood you’ll find the Jingle Pot Pub – featuring all of your pub favourites. Your weekend might be over, but the adventure doesn’t have to end. Now’s the best time to plan your next trip to Nanaimo, with more time to test out the Island’s best mountain biking trails.
Trails For Days - 5 day
Alone or in a group, you’re almost guaranteed to have a great time on and off the trails of Nanaimo. Riding, shopping, exploring, eating, and enjoying – you’ll be amazed at how much you can do in just five days.
Your day starts early today – wake up in a comfy bed at the Painted Turtle Guesthouse, then set out for a sunrise walk in Maffeo Sutton Park, taking a moment to watch the world wake up. On your own or with a group, it’s a great start for every trip.
After the sunrise, grab a breakfast frittata at Two Chefs Affair, a few doors down from the Painted Turtle, then grab the bikes and get rolling to the Doumont Mountain bike trails, about 20 minutes west of downtown.
The trails of Doumont have rides for all ages and experiences: leisurely cross country runs and adrenalin-spiking black diamond singletracks, loamy trails with good jumplines and scenic descents with plenty of time in the saddle. Ride down Monkeys in the Mist, a 1Km sloped singletrack, then pump it up Banshee Blvd, a 2.6Km dirt road, to connect with Cripple Creek, a black diamond gravity singletrack with great drops and good fun.
While you’re at Doumont, hike up to Ammonite Falls to see the snail-like fossils that have been waiting 65 to 400 million years for you to find them.
After your ride, go for supper at Smokin’ George’s BBQ – featured on You’ve Gotta Eat Here! – for a huge order of chili cheese fries, smoked ‘pulled’ chicken, or the Porkinator! The coleslaw is crisp and fantastic, and Mom’s Pit Beans are delicious. Leave some room for their spin on our local treat – a bacon-topped or Dulce de Leche Nanaimo Bar with bacon!
This morning we’re exploring the routes at Westwood Lake, a mixed-use trail with walkers, joggers, and riders with an excellent off-leash park for the pups.
Legalize It! – one of the first authorized trails in Nanaimo – offers nearly 4Km of excellent twists and turns, good speeds, and challenging climbs. Ride the Cable Connector to find Route 66, a 1.1Km singletrack with good drops, then pump up to Upper Gatekeeper to test out the berms and little jumps – a fun run with fantastic views.
After your rides, stop at the Nanaimo Museum to learn about the language, history, and community of the Snuneymuxw, the region’s First People, on an interactive journey of discovery. Then check out the Hub City’s history, including the Bastion Era; a mid-1920s schoolroom; and the vital role the forestry industry played in the creation of the city (and their role in today’s mountain biking trails).
In the Vancouver Island Military Museum, the province’s most significant Military Museum, learn about the contributions Vancouver Island has made since the War of 1812. Explore the military memorabilia, examine the role that local services, such as the Red Cross, St. Johns Ambulance, the Salvation Army, the RCMP, and the Merchant Navy, played here and abroad. Discover the evolution of women in the services, including their role in the Armed Forces, the Boer War, and present-day operations, an interesting topic to discuss over supper.
Today is a rest and recovery day. Kelly’s Kitchen Café on Bowen Road offers cooked-from-scratch specialities served with a generous helping of old-school friendliness. You’ve burned a ton of calories already this week, so it’s OK to treat yourself.
After breakfast, explore the new stock at Arrowsmith Bikes or Rock City Cycles, or talk to the folks at Pacific Rim Bicycle or Coal City Cycles to stay current with the Nanaimo mountain biking scene. Hub City Cycles is a community Co-op where you can tune up your ride or get help with your newest upgrade, and Hank’s Cycle Shop is great for accessories, advice, and tune-ups.
Every visit to Nanaimo is a great excuse to explore the 39 variations available on the Nanaimo Bar Trail. Start with a classic from A Wee Cupcakery or Javawocky, then try a twist – the Peanut Butter Crunch Nanaimo Bar at the Hearthstone Artisan Bakery. Grab a Nanaimo Bar fudge at Cabela’s or a waffle with Nanaimo Bar fixin’s at Waffle Magic. Sip a Nanaimo Bar cocktail at the Grand Hotel or a bar-tini at the Modern Café. There are even vegan and gluten-free options – a wheat-free version at Mon Petit Choux or organic/raw/gluten-free at Power House Living Foods. If sweets aren’t your thing, try a Nanaimo Bar pedicure at the House of Kiyo Salon & Spa; soaps and massage oils at Lobelia’s Lair; or go on a 6-8Km trail run with GottaRun. Alone or shared with someone special, our Nanaimo Bars are definitely a treat.
The Nanaimo Mountain Bike Club has a group ride just about every day, so check out the ride schedule to see where they are and how to join. A community ride is a great way to connect with the locals and find the hidden secrets that turn a good ride into an amazing experience.
Building on the theme of community – take the BC Ale Trail to find our delicious world of locally crafted beers. The Cowichan, Nanaimo, and Parksville-Qualicum Beach route features nine different breweries throughout the central-Island, so you can taste your way from the Cowichan region in the south to Qualicum Beach in the north. Nanaimo has three breweries on this route, Longwood Brewery, Wolf Brewing, and White Sales Brewing, and one brew pub; ideal stops after a ride any day of the week. Or try the Nanaimo – Comox Valley circle route, spread out over two days so you can switch up the designated drivers.
Treat yourself to a fine dining experience at the Fiddlehead Bistro; local, fresh, organic ingredients perfectly paired and presented with panache. Calling it a hidden gem sounds cheesy, but it’s one of those local spots that gets everything right. The Island Brie is a delicious starter, and the Lamb Polpetta is almost too good to share. Local steamed clams, seared trout, and award-winning chicken – and so much more. They even have delicious Vegan and Gluten-free options (you don’t have to be Vegan to enjoy the Chocolate Banana Loaf, but if you are, you will).
Today’s a busy day, so grab a quick breakfast at Alice’s Restaurant, a homey diner on the south end of Nanaimo. The Bennys taste fantastic and the pancakes are seriously fluffy and delicious – give the Sweet’n Salty with bacon and chocolate chips a try!
After breakfast, ride to Maffeo-Sutton Park to catch the passenger ferry to Newcastle Island and explore the 800 acres of natural beauty. The mixed-use trails are dotted with middens, sandstone cliffs, and relics from the shipyard industry, with plenty of spots to soak up the sun or take a dip in the ocean – you’ll be surprised how warm the shallow water is.
Take the ferry back to Maffeo-Sutton Park, then ride or drive up to Beban Park to find the Stevie Smith Jump Park and Pump Track – one of the most exceptional pump tracks in Canada. Join the local riders on the bumps and jumps in the skills park, or simply sit back and watch everyone having a great time.
Tonight, take your group to Gina’s Mexican Café in downtown Nanaimo – a popular spot for locals and visitors because of the friendly service and tasty menu. Nibble on nachos while huddled around your phones and tablets, sipping margaritas, laughing at the best wipeouts and comparing your best times – even if you were the last one down, it was still a great ride.
It was a fast week that ended too soon, filled with good rides, great people, amazing food, and probably a few new toys. You’ll have to come back soon to do it all again.
Book Your Stay Now
Located on the east coast of Vancouver Island, bordering the shores of the Pacific Ocean and the Salish Sea, Nanaimo is central to everything on Vancouver Island, making it the perfect basecamp for all kinds of Island adventures. And with accommodations that run the gamut – comfy campsites along the ocean and specialty B&Bs overlooking the city, economical motels offering exceptional value, and luxurious hotels where your wish is their command – your comfort is the only thing that matters.
The mountain biking community of Nanaimo is highly involved and incredibly open. And this goes beyond the trails. Some of the local hotels offer bike storage to protect your ride; local cycling shops are stocked with the tools you’ll need to keep rolling, advice to help you enjoy the trails your way, and toys that make riding fun; and a variety of shopping centres offer a huge selection of local specialties and big brand names so you can bring something home to remind you of the fantastic times you had while you were here.
Nanaimo has 360° of adventure waiting for you to explore, whether you’re here for a day, a week, or a lifetime. Ride with us and discover your 360.