Galloping Goose Trail

Welcome to the Galloping Goose Regional Trail

The Goose is your trail. You can cycle, walk, run, jog, in-line skate, wheelchair, push a stroller, walk the dog, ride a horse, commute to work, spend a quiet Sunday afternoon, push yourself through the entire trail, or take a 15 minute break on this multi-use, 100 kilometre former railway line, now a regional trail. 

If it isn't a motorized vehicle, except for a motorized wheelchair, you can do it on the Goose. The Goose also knows every landscape on southern Vancouver Island. You can travel past the finest: a quiet cove, a hidden lake, rocky outcrops, marshland, canyon land, skunk cabbage swampland, tall Douglas Fir forest, rural farmland, urban back streets, and waterways. This is the Capital Region District at its best. 

Selkirk Trestle to Switch Bridge The Galloping Goose Regional Trail begins here at the Selkirk Trestle. However, trailside kilometre markings are measured from the Johnson Street bridge to account for future expasion of the trail linking downtown Victoria about one kilometre to the south. The Selkirk Trestle -- a 300 metre long, fir and hemlock trestle -- spans the Selkirk waters, a bulge in the narrow saltwater inlet curving north-west from Victoria's Inner Harbour to the Gorge and Portage inlets. 

Though signs of a changing downtown Victoria dominate the southern view, the immediate environs are mostly tranquil, with lush poplars, willows and maples pushing to the shoreline and softening the urban landscape. 

The trestle itself is five metres wide --ample room for the hundreds of strollers and cyclists on a Sunday afternoon outing. There's even room for the occaisional fisher casting over the railing for herring. Though the trestle is wide, the surface can get slippery after wet weather. If you're on wheels, check your speed and watch out for other trail users. You can access the bridge at either end: from the south, take Tyee Road to Arthur Currie Lane; from the north, drop down from Gorge Road East, a block west of Jutland Road. From the bridge, in rapid succession, the trail scurries under the Gorge Road East Bridge and the Burnside Road East Bridge. A huge mural brightens up one of the massive, cast concrete bridges. 

The Goose emerges into the warehouse and light industry district just west of Douglas Street. It's stop-and-go here. The trail crosses six urban roads in a row. In many of them, you must yield to road traffic, so stay alert. Up ahead: the Switch Bridge. The Switch Bride, a 100 metre span across the Trans-Canada Highway, marks another important milestone in the life of the Goose. Until the Switch Bridge, the busy highway blocked flow along the Goose. When the bridge opened in 1996, the Goose gained easy, uninterrupted access to Victoria. Switch Bridge to Quadra Street -- The Saanich Spur At the north end of the Switch Bridge, the trail forks. The right fork bends north-east and becomes the Saanich Spur (2.3 km in length) of the Goose. Again, it quickly ducks under two major bridges: this time at Blanshard Street and Vernon Avenue. Your now in the heart of Saanich, the CRD's largest municipality with a population of 105,000. 

The Goose skirts around the southern perimeter of Swan Lake Christmas Hill Nature Sanctuary -- a great opportunity for a side trip (sorry, no bicycles) if you're on foot. The verdant willows and hints of marsh wildlife beckon the asphalt traveler to explore further. With Swan Lake to the north, the trail crosses over the Brett Avenue Trestle and 500 metres beyond, the Swan Lake Trestle, both remnants of the former Canadian Northern Pacific Railway (and later the CNR) line that ran through Saanich from 1917 to 1990. Just Past the Swan Lake Trestle, at Quadra Street, the Galloping Goose abruptly ends. -- for now. Future plans include expansion of the Goose into a regional trail system that continues up Lochside Drive and on to Sidney.

You can travel for nearly 100 kilometres on the Galloping Goose Regional Trail. You can cycle, walk, or ride a horse along this former rail line past some of B.C.’s finest scenery.

Walk the Goose.
You can spot bald eagles. Or turkey vultures floating on a thermal. You have time to watch a deer in the sword ferns.

Ride the Goose on Horseback.
You and your horse get into a rhythm. A low broadleaf maple brushes your shoulder. You ride past Nootka rose splashed with pastel reds.
Cycle the Goose.
The scenery flows by in slow motion. A quiet cove. A dark, hidden lake. Rocky outcrops split by twisted Garry oak.

From asphalt to rainforest to canyon...

The Goose knows every landscape on Southern Vancouver Island. Starting in Victoria, it travels the backroads to Saanich. Then it slices through the urban setting of View Royal, Langford, and Colwood. Yet in a delightful surprise, ferns, shrubs, and rock outcrops shield you from much of the concrete. At Metchosin, the trail moves lazily past small farms surrounded by hills. Steep, rocky slopes march down to the trailside. Occasionally the Goose drops into a creek bed. you can stop on the bridge and watch cool water flow over igneous rock. It has now been extended from Leechtown north of Sooke to Sidney.

At Matheson Lake Regional Park, you can catch a glimpse of dark water guarded by steep slopes. Watch for bald eagles and ravens. Stop for lunch here, rest a while, and enjoy this peaceful lake.
The Goose then enters Roche Cove Regional Park. Coastal Douglas fir and sword fern line the trail. You can use this park as a jumping off point or as an end to a pleasant outing. Toilets and ample parking are just a few kilometres ahead off Gillespie Road.

To the west, in Sooke the trail skirts the Sooke Basin, clinging to each headland. Down on the water, you can watch buffleheads and Barrow’s goldeneye bobbing on the swell. Across the Basin, the hills of East Sooke Regional Park rise out of the water. This is the Goose at its best.

Near the mouth of the Sooke River, the Galloping Goose veers north and climbs out of the coastal plain and up the canyon. Far below, the Sooke River plunges past potholes, back eddies, and hustles out to sea. The original railway tracks once spanned Charters and Todd Creeks. Today only the tall wooden and iron trestles remain. The view from the trail perched on the side of the canyon slopes is spectacular.

The Goose steepens ever so slightly on this last section. Finally; it levels out at Leechtown, an abandoned mining town. This section of the trail north along the Sooke River is less populated and more wild. Cougars, and deer may be part of your Galloping Goose experience.

How to get there...

The official trail heart is in Victoria, at the west end of the Johnson Street bridge. But you don’t have to start there. Other access points are located all along the trail.
   

Galloping Goose Photos

Map of The Galloping Goose Trail



Return to the Sooke Recreation Index

Return to the Sooke Community Website

 

This information is courtesy of:

Capital Regional District Parks
490 Atkins Avenue
Victoria, B.C. V9B 2Z8
Phone (250) 478-3344 Fax (250)478-5416

 


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