The Coast Trail in East Sooke Regional Park 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.
The scenery 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 sea.
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.
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.
Hiking the 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.
Visitors to 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.
East Sooke 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 Victoria.
Public Transportation: 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.