There is something so distinct about the whole West Coast of Vancouver Island. It’s wild, unique and refuses to conform to the standards set by its east side. Whenever I’m there, I swear I can see a hint of Western Scotland, a little Sweden in there, and some Northern California too. Paradoxically, it manages to be completely distinct from anywhere else.
Welcome to East Sooke Park, all 3512 acres of it.There are three different entrances to the park, each one offering different levels of trails and also lend slower paces for kids and adults that just want to wander around.
See Vancouver Island’s History Recorded in the Park Petroglyphs
The original people of the park were the T’Soukes Nation, and there is still some evidence of their roots here,like the petroglyph carved into a rock at Alldridge Point and the many burial mounds that dot the coast line throughout the area.
One of the first Europeans to make their way to the east side of the island was Mauel Quimper from Spain. The natives were already there collecting fish and other nourishment from the land for the winter. However, he didn’t stop his vessel for very long, and just a few years later, the Hudson’s Bay Company took over the land to set up mining, fishing, and logging until 1970.
East Sooke Park offers Nature Lovers Hiking Trails both Long and Short
Since then it has attracted nature lovers and hikers from far and wide. Some come for a relaxed day of exploring, while others take on the challenging Coast Trail here. The 10km trail is a challenging 6 hour trip for experienced hikers. The park, however, is criss-crossed with numerous other trails that take you through forest, marsh, field, and amazing shoreline tidal pools.
Whatever adventure you choose, wear some good hiking boots and be aware that you’ll be navigating around some craggy terrain.
Find a Spectacular Variety of Local Wildlife in the Wilderness
Expect to see otters, deer, sea lions and many bird species. Mid-September to late October is a perfect time to observe Red Tailed Hawks, Ospreys, Kestrels, Cooper’s Hawks, Harriers and a many other predator birds as they begin their adventure to the Olympic National Park in Washington. The best way to get a see the birds is at Beechey Head observation point.
There has been rumour of Kermode Bear sightings, but it is yet to be confirmed. Don’t let that deter you from hoping, though!A confirmed sighting would not only be an once-in-a-lifetime experience, it would also benefit conservation activities. The Kermode Bear, also known as the Spirit Bear, is a highly endangered subspecies of the British Columbian black bear. These bears have only been found along the central and North coast of the BC mainland, primarily in the Great Bear Rainforest protected park.
Even if there are no Kermode bears in the park, it is the protected habitat for other predators that call Vancouver Island home. It is important to be aware of the bear, wolf and cougar populations. Be sure to keep pets on a leash at all times, and you can check out the BC Parks website for more tips on safely enjoying the wilderness.
Getting To and From East Sooke Park from Victoria
To come and visit the park will take about an hour to drive from downtown Victoria. And once you’re there, you have three different access points to the park, depending on what you’ll want to see and do. There is one at Aylard Farm, just a walk through an open field and you could hang out at the little bay and beach comb or begin the Coast Trail from one of the trails from the field.
There is also entrance at Anderson Cove, a mid to serious hiker’s access to Babbington Hill and Mt. Mcguire. If you are bringing dogs with you, it’s advisable that you leash your pet for their own safety. There has been bear and wolf sightings in the past, and we all know how dogs react to this!
And at the most westerly point of entrance is at Pike Rd. The former logging road will take you through thick forest for about 25 minutes and end up at the beach. The road will be flat and manageable for all ages.
I hope you go, and remember to take plenty of water and food… I have been there a few times and have totally lost track of time. But I’m not complaining: I’ll probably do it again this summer.
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