East Sooke Boasts an Active Past
Coast Salish people (The T'Sou-kes) reef-netted 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 179O, 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 Douglas. The late 1800's 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.
Within what is now East Sooke Regional Park, loggers, miners and fishers sought their fortune. In the heart of the park, loggers selectively harvested trees. Stumps 2-3 metres (6 - 9 feet) in diameter hold clues to the era of the springboard, axe and crosscut saw. At Iron Mine Bay and Mount Macguire, 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. Fishers 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 those days.
Hiking Trails in East Sooke
East Sooke is the largest CRD Park encompassing 1422 hectares (3512 acres) of natural and protected coastal landscape. In this Wilderness Recreation Park, you'll experience solitude and harmony with nature in a park untouched by urban progress.
Over 50 kilometres (31 miles) of trails draw you into the timeless beauty of East Sooke. Begin your exploration at one of three entry points.
Aylard Farm is popular with picnickers and those looking for easy excursions. A 5-minute walk though open fields leads to a pocket beach where you can discover intertidal life, or watch River Otters scurrying across the sand. Trails head inland to hilltop views, or along the rugged Coast Trail.
Anderson Cove, on the Sooke Basin, is the starting point for hikers heading to Babbington Hill and Mount Macguire. On these hilltops, Bald Eagles and Red-tailed Hawks join you for sweeping views of the Olympic Peninsula.
Pike Road is the most westerly access to the park, and to the Coast Trail. An old logging road winds through forest to meadow and beach. Here, at low tide, look for Periwinkles, Goose Neck Banacles and Purple Sea Stars.
West Coast wilderness awaits you at East Sooke Regional Park. Experience it as you hike along the windswept rocky coast, over dry hilltops, through dark rain forest to sheltered coves.
East Sooke's Coast Trail is considered on of the premier day hikes in Canada, a west coast wilderness experience within easy reach of the town of Sooke or the city of Victoria, British Columbia. The ten kilometer trail is rough and winding, a challenging, 6-hour trip even for experienced hikers. One moment you travel across a bluff of windswept pines, the ocean crashing at your feet. Next you enter a dark rain forest at the end of a ravine. Turn a corner, and you're back in sunlight, at the edge of the sea.
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 a 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 - surviving despite the harsh wind and salt spray. Continue east to Beechy Head. Here the wild and beautiful coastline is marked by jagged bluffs, a reminder of the ageless struggle between land and sea.
Feel the presence of the Coast Salish people at Alldridge Point, designated as a Provincial Heritage Site in 1927. Here you'll see petroglyths bruised into the rock, a style particular to the Strait of Juan de Fuca. 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 is all that remains of the last settlement. Where livestock once grazed, meadows are now sweet with Clover, Wild Rose and Blue-eyed grass. At dusk, Columbian Black-tailed Deer wander in from the surrounding forest to feed.
Capital Regional District Parks
490 Atkins Avenue
Victoria, B.C. V9B 2Z8
Phone (250) 478-3344 Fax (250)478-5416
Sooke Community Website
Sooke Community Website