East Sooke Regional
Park, located west of Victoria, is one of the most spectacular parks
in the region, attracting those looking for challenging hikes in
a wilderness setting. A favourite among novice and experienced hikers,
East Sooke Park encompasses 1,435 hectares of natural and protected
coastal landscape. East Sooke Park provides over 50 kilometres of
trails through forest, marsh and field, with pocket beaches, rocky
bays and tide pools for exploring.
Sooke Park Coast on the Strait of Juan de Fuca
Coast Trail takes hikers through lush rain forest, along windswept
bluffs and down to the ocean's edge. The coast itself, with deep
bays, cliffs and chasms, has an atmosphere of remoteness and adventure.
In this wilderness park, you'll experience solitude and harmony
with nature. Feel the presence of the Coast Salish People at Alldridge
Point, designated as a Provincial Heritage Site in 1927. Here you'll
see petroglyphs carved into the rock, in a style particular to the
petroglyphs of the Strait of Juan de Fuca area.
Coast Salish people
(the T’Sou-kes) reefnetted salmon around Becher Bay, and collected
shellfish, berries and roots for winter months spent at Pedder Bay.
Spanish explorer Manuel Quimper first entered Sooke Inlet in 1790,
but within five years all lands north of the Strait of Juan de Fuca
became British. Three years later, Vancouver Island was granted to
the Hudson Bay Company, under the direction of its chief factor, James
at Alldridge Point in East Sooke Park
The late 1800s
were busy years in East Sooke: large sailing ships and dugout canoes
ran supplies to and from Fort Victoria, and a steam-powered sawmill
provided lumber for the small community.
is now East Sooke Regional Park, loggers, miners and fishers sought
their fortunes. In the heart of the park, loggers selectively harvested
trees. Stumps 2 to 3 metres in diameter hold clues to the era of
the springboard, axe and crosscut saw. At Iron Mine Bay and Mount
Maguire, copper and iron were mined on and off for nearly 100 years.
The quality and amount of ore, however, were limited, and never
led to significant commercial success. Fishermen reaped the richest
bounty. From spring to early autumn, fish traps were secured in
the sea bed. The Trap Shack at Cabin Point is solitary witness to
Shack at Cabin Point in East Sooke Park
were common on the coast in the Sooke area during the turn of the
century. Watchmen employed to empty the traps lived in these Trap
Shacks. Fish traps were built in the early 1900s to trap fish, and
at one time as many as 15 traps were in operation between Trial
Islands and Boulder Beach, just west of Sheringham Light. The last
traps operated during the 1958 season. Fishing was good, and in
July 1918, 70,000 pounds of spring salmon were taken from the Otter
of East Sooke Regional Park begins at one of three entry points.
Families will find
the Aylard Farm end the most rewarding of the three entrance points,
as there are regular park facilities, picnic sites, large green meadows,
and access to sandy beaches that offer good summer swimming. A 5-minute
walk through open fields leads from the parking lot to the beach.
A heritage apple orchard and cleared pasture are all that remain of
the last settlement at Aylard Farm. Easy trails head inland to great
hilltop views, or hikers can head out along the rugged Coast Trail.
Bay, East Sooke Regional Park
River Otters living on the rocky beach may be seen feeding in the
early morning or late evening. Hike for 30 minutes to Beechey Head
lookout to observe fall raptor migration. Beginning in September,
you may see hundreds of Turkey Vultures as they make their way south.
Anderson Cove on the Sooke Basin is the starting point for hikers
heading to Babbington Hill and Mount Maguire. On these hilltops
you may see bald eagles, turkey vultures and red-tailed hawks, and
enjoy sweeping views of the the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Olympic
Mountains in Washington State.
Pike Road is the most westerly access to the park, and the westerly
trailhead for the Coast Trail. An old logging road winds through
cedar woods to the waterfront at Iron Mine Bay. The bay is a good
place to explore tidal pools at low tide, looking for periwinkles,
gooseneck barnacles and purple sea stars, or watch pelagic cormorants
swoop and dive for food, then fly back to their rocky homes. The
western entrance to the park sees viewer visitors and is likely
to provide more privacy and alone time than Aylard Farm.
The Coast Trail
is considered one of the premier day hikes in Canada, a west coast
wilderness experience within easy reach of Victoria. The 10-kilometre
trail is rough and winding, a challenging 6–hour trip even for energetic
or experienced hikers. One moment you travel across a bluff of windswept
pines, the ocean crashing at your feet. Next you enter a dark rainforest
at the end of a ravine. Turn a corner, and you’re back in sunlight,
at the edge of the sea.
on the Coast Trail
along the rough and winding Coast Trail is simply magnificent, with
good views of the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the Olympic Peninsula
in Washington state.
Begin your hike
at Pike Road, and take the trail to Iron Mine Bay. The forest is
thick with Douglas-fir, western hemlock, and closer to shore, Sitka
spruce. The route to the small, horseshoe-shaped bay is lush with
mosses, ferns and shrubs like fruit-bearing salmonberry. Heading
east along the Coast Trail, you pass sharp cliffs where pelagic
cormorants roost. Watch them swoop and dive for food, then fly back
to their rocky homes. Later, stop at Cabin Point, where the small
trap shack is testimony to a fishing past. As you travel the trail,
look for plants as old as time. Kinnikinnick, Oregon grape and salal
survive despite the harsh wind and salt spray. Continue east to
Beechey Head. Here the wild and beautiful coastline is marked by
jagged bluffs, a reminder of the ageless struggle between land and
Beechey Head is
also a well-known site for observing the annual fall hawk migration.
Feel the presence of the Coast Salish People at Alldridge Point, designated
as a Provincial Heritage Site in 1927. Here you'll see petroglyphs
carved into the rock, in a style particular to the petroglyphs of
the Strait of Juan de Fuca area. Near the end of the Coast Trail is
Creyke Point, a rocky headland of unusual shapes against emerald green
water. Your hike ends at Aylard Farm.
Head in East Sooke Park
A heritage apple
orchard and cleared pasture are all that remain of the last settlement.
Where livestock once grazed, meadows are now sweet with clover,
wild rose and blue-eyed grass. At dusk, blacktailed deer wander
in from the surrounding forest to feed.
entire trail requires transport to return to the starting trailhead.
The easiest way to return to the Pike Road starting point at the
end of the hike is to leave a second car at the Aylard Farm parking
area, or arrange to be picked up. Parties with two cars can start
from each end and exchange car keys for the return journey home.
There is no public transportation between the Aylard Farm and Pike
Road parking areas. It is possible to hike portions of the Coast
Trail. Hikers setting out from Aylard Farm can return to the entrance
point - without backtracking along the Coast Trail - on one of the
easier interior trails through the forest.
Aside from the
Coast Trail, a number of interior trails crisscross the park. Portions
of these inland trails can be combined into assorted loops and figure
eight hikes of varying lengths. This negates the need to leave vehicles
at each end of the park, and provides an easier and shorter return
option if the Coast Trail proves too demanding. The interior trails
are relatively flat and fairly quiet even in summer. Families will
find hiking from the Aylard Farm end the most rewarding, as there
are regular park facilities, green meadows and access to sandy beaches.
East Sooke Park should be aware that the natural attractions of
East Sooke are themselves potential hazards, especially if you’re
unprepared. Sharp cliffs wrapped in mist, crashing waves, and sudden
tide changes can all provide an element of danger. Winter hiking
can be hazardous: Trails on rocky ledges are very slippery, and
some inland trails can become submerged after heavy rains.
at Cabin Point, Coast Trail
section of the Coast Trail
in the park include parking areas, toilets, picnic areas, group
picnic areas, shelters and viewpoints. Bicycles, horses and motorized
vehicles are not permitted in the park.
Regional Park is located off East Sooke Road on the East Sooke Peninsula
near Sooke, 22 miles (35 km) west of Victoria. Access from Victoria
is via Highway 1 and the West Coast Highway 14 (Sooke Road). Turn
left off Sooke Road onto Gillespie Road. Turn right on East Sooke
Road to reach the park entrances at Anderson Cove and Pike Road,
or turn left to reach the park entrance at Aylard Farm (turn right
on Becher Bay Road). Allow approximately 1 hour driving time from
Take BC Transit #66 East Sooke Loop Bus from 17 Mile House to East
Sooke Road. There is a bus stop close to the entrance to Anderson
Cove. Please note that BC Transit #66 runs Monday to Friday only,
with no weekend service. Contact BC Transit for scheduling information.