Beneath the shadow of the Comox Glacier, nestled at the foothills of Beaufort Range, lies the fast growing village of Cumberland. Cumberland has an interesting history, being a coal-mining town from 1888 to 1966. This amiable community is undergoing a serious cultural transformation. Home to arts, culture, eclectic live music and world-class outdoor recreation, Cumberland is the closest community to the Forbidden Plateau and Mt Washington, and is the gateway to the amazing Comox Lake.
Cumberland Forest, a 56-hectare second growth forest is protected by The Cumberland Community Forest Society. The community raise funds to buy the land from an American timber company. Cumber Forest, being located southwest of Cumberland, just between Comox Lake Road and Perseverance Creek, this forest of hemlock, red cedar, and Douglas Fir is a marvel for the community; it is used for activities such as mushroom picking, hiking, walking, and world class mountain biking. The songbirds, sword ferns, salal, and Sakatoon berry bushes makes a very tranquil Cumberland Forest very tranquil.
Mt. Washington with a elevation of 5,216feet/1590m, located at 19 miles (31km) west of Hwy 19, is a great base for skiing. Mt. Washington offers some excellent skiing conditions, having very deep snow, in 2011 accumulating a record of nearly 62 feet. Having more than 1,700 acres to explore, assisted by 5 state of art lifts, it is no wonder this resort ranks always on the top of most visited locations by Canadians. In addition to skiing, Mt. Washington also provides excellent conditions for hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding in the summer. If adrenaline is not your thing, alternatively, you can ride the chair life and enjoy the amazing views of the surrounding areas.
Strathcona Provincial Park, a rugged mountain of wilderness with over 250,000 hectares is one of the biggest attraction for tourists. Peaks, mantled with snow, dominate the park, while alpine tars and lakes create a beautiful landscape laced with creeks, rivers and streams. Strathcona, created in 1911, is the largest park in Vancouver Island, and the oldest provincial park in BC. There are plenty of fabulous hiking trails, including Della Falls trail that leads to the highest waterfall in Canada. There are also dozens of trails that lead to many beautiful alpine lakes.
Once a hidenway for native refugees who disappeared in its mountainous terrain, the Fobirdden Plateau in Strathcona Provincial Park is opened for tourists all year long. During winters, extensive cross-country tracks for experienced and intermediate skiers are opened. Summer, too, brings great camping and hiking.
Cumberland is close to Strathcona Park, which makes plenty of hiking and biking routes available. Boston Ridge Trail, a good 13-km circle day hike that goes up and over Boston Ridge and up to Mount Becher, which offers some amazing views. Cumberland Forest trail can be experienced by foot, and is a tranquil experience.
The world-renowed trails in Cumberland attract riders of all skill levels. As you stroll through the town you’ll observe the community is very bike-centric. Parking is also good beside the centre where riders meet before and after their circuit. Local people are very friendly—try finding a friendly face to get some local knowledge about the trails, and then head down to Sutton Road for 300 metres to the trailhead.
Comox Valley, Cumberland included enjoys many mountain biking trails, many of them revolving around Comox Lake and Puntledge River. Comox Lake-Puntledge River Trails contain a network of nine moderate-difficult trails; they start at the dam on Comox Lake.
The parking lot can be located on the west side of the dam; trails begin just west of the dam. The Puntledge Plunge is a famous track—At Comox Lake, just ride west on a gravel road, take the road B21 north, and after 15 minutes uphill there is a trail that leads off to the right.
Easy ascents and long descents are a paradise for mountain bikers. If you are passionate by this, make sure not to miss catching the Blue Chairlift at Mt. Washington and then riding down. July 1 marks the date when mountain biking seasons begin, and it extends all throughout August. Mt. Washington is 1590 m above the sea level.
Great canoeing and wilderness camping can be found on the remote Wilemar Lake and Forbush Lake, located on Puntledge River. You can reach them by following the Comox Lake main logging road, past the south end of Comox Lake, and to the foothills of Willemar Lake. You can arrive at the Puntledge River Trail by following the trailhead at the western end of Forbush Lake. After about 2 km you will find a relaxing rest spot at a waterfall.
Cumberland Lake Park can be found on the shores of Comox Lake, having 20 services and 39 unserviced camp sites, boat launch, swimming dock, hiking trails, and a group campsite. Just travel 3km west of Cumberland to the end of Comox Lake Road. Cumberland Lake Wilderness Society offers wilderness based programming. Services are available for everyone.