Planning a trip during the crisp, less-crowded season of fall unveils one of the best times for hiking, biking and other outdoor pursuits, including all the flavours of the fall harvest.
As the heat of the summer season subsides and the crowds decrease, it’s the perfect time to visit the Comox Valley.
Here’s our guide to enjoying the fall season before winter sets in.
Whether you choose to head up to Mount Washington or to flock to nearby parks and waterfront pathways, you’ll be a short drive from some of the best trails that the Comox Valley has to offer.
The temperature is perfect, the leaves are changing and the views of the majestic mountains and tree-lined paths are clear.
From intense multi-day hikes to leisurely walks, there’s something for all skill levels.
Some of our favourites include Paradise Meadows in Strathcona Provincial Park, Seal Bay Regional Nature Park, Nymph Falls Nature Park, Cumberland Community Forest and the Courtenay Airpark.
Make the most of this transitional season from your bike! Whether you’re a road cyclist, a gravel rider, mountain biker or all of the above, you’ll be well covered here.
Nestled in the foothills of the Beaufort Mountains, Cumberland is the epicentre of mountain biking on Vancouver Island. With more than 80 kilometres of the Island’s most legendary singletrack, it’s a great place for seasoned riders and newcomers to the sport.
Opt for a guided tour with Island Joy Rides, where you can cruise the scenic coastal routes that take you through communities, near waterfalls and even to nearby islands.
Or choose a self-guided adventure in farm country along the One Spot Trail. This trail has three separate completed sections, taking you along the former railway grade of the Comox Logging & Railway Company.
READ MORE: Shake off the year’s stress with an adrenaline-filled weekend in the Comox Valley
Don’t put away your clubs just because summer’s gone! The Comox Valley and surrounding areas have nine golf courses, six of which are open year-round.
Play a round at the award-winning, platinum-rated golf course at Crown Isle Resort; extend your visit by staying on site in one of their villas located along the fairway.
The Comox Golf Club is a championship nine-hole golf course located in the heart of Comox and is open year-round with beautifully maintained greens, offering both challenge and reward for all levels.
Mulligans Golf Course is in superb condition year-round, and the course, which provides a challenge for golfers of all calibres, is known as “The Friendliest Little Course In The Valley.”
Some of the most serene paddling conditions can be found throughout the fall in the Comox Valley.
If you’re a passionate sea kayaker, a complete beginner or if you’re looking for a unique, multi-day adventure, discover the range of water trails with a friend or go with a guide!
Comox Valley Kayaks & Canoes carries various kayaks, canoes, standup paddle boards and gear to rent, or you can sign up for a guided tour.
Enjoy spectacular freshwater and saltwater fishing paired with incredible scenery!
Hire a professional, fully certified guide to help you throw in a line for various fish species, as well as shellfish like crab and prawns.
Expect to encounter views of coastal mountains, wildlife, sweeping seascapes and a tug on the line during your time on the water.
The fall is a great time to travel with the kids: autumn-themed activities, fewer crowds and a chill in the air make the season magical.
Enjoy a hayride, visit barnyard animals, find your way out of corn and hay bale mazes, play fall games and pick a pumpkin from the 20 acres of fields at Coastal Black’s 9th Annual Pumpkin Fall Fest.
Shamrock Farm has a vast assortment of pumpkins to pick off the vine, or collect one that’s already picked and waiting in the barn for carving and cooking.
Don’t leave without picking up Comox’s own Benino Gelato’s pumpkin pie gelato made with Shamrock Farm’s pumpkins!
Fall is also a glorious time of year for horseback riding. Bear Creek Ranch offers rides to suit all needs, from half-hour excursions to full days on nearby trails, which lead to the area’s hills, rivers and lakes.
Disc golf (also known as Frisbee golf ) is an outdoor sport involving throwing plastic discs into metal baskets along an outdoor course, and it’s a great way to include the family on a walk through the forest. Choose from four disc golf courses, including Village Park Disc Golf Course in Comox and the Coal Creek Historic Park in Cumberland.
Eat and drink
Savour the selection of the valley’s many great food offerings, available everywhere from food trucks to fine dining restaurants.
Warm up with a bowl of authentic Japanese ramen at Nikkei Ramenya, feast on superb ingredients at Il Falcone, which is a favourite among locals and visitors, taste bold wines at 40 Knots Winery or savour award-winning dishes at the Tidal Cafe.
Still have room on your “to-do” list? Pick up a famous cronut at Cumberland’s 100-plus-year-old Village Bakery; treat yourself to a spa treatment paired with a Pacific Mist Hydropath at Kingfisher Oceanside Resort & Spa; get a head start your holiday shopping by strolling the main streets in Cumberland, Courtenay and Comox to find the perfect gifts; or relax at the European-style sauna house at The Lost Faucet.
The Comox Valley Farmers’ Market is a year-round gathering place that supports a community of growers.
And what better season for home cooks to perfect those hearty seasonal dishes? At the market, you can pick up everything from fresh farm produce to locally produced food items and a variety of meats. Arrive hungry: treats like fresh baked goods and warm drinks await you.
The vendors move indoors to the Native Sons Hall at 360 Cliffe Ave. in Courtenay between October and April.
READ MORE: 3 unique Comox Valley purveyors to sip and savour
Where to stay
During autumn, you can often find lower travel rates than during the peak season.
Consider a stay in a glamping tent on the 90-acre lakefront property at Smith Lake Farm. Or, pamper yourself with a visit to the Kingfisher Oceanside Resort and Spa, where luxury and relaxation are top priorities.
The Old House Hotel & Spa could possibly be Vancouver Island’s best-kept secret; the all-suite hotel located just blocks from downtown Courtenay has quick access to the airport.
Find rustic charm at The Alders Beach Resort; it’s an ideal spot for couples or families looking for a remote beach-front escape.
The Comox Valley hits all of the highlights with outdoor activities, wineries, shopping and mouthwatering cuisine – all that’s left to do is pack your bags!
– Reprinted from SOAR Magazine, the in-flight magazine for Pacific Coastal Airlines.
Plan your adventures throughout the West Coast at westcoasttraveller.com and follow us on Facebook and Instagram @thewestcoasttraveller. And for the top West Coast Travel stories of the week delivered right to your inbox, sign up for our weekly Armchair Traveller newsletter!