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Sooke: Parks: East Sooke Regional Park

All information reprinted from CRD Parks materials with permission

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eastsookemap.gif (363449 bytes)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 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 par untouched by urban progress.

Over 50 kilometers ( 31 miles) of trails draw you into the timeless beauty of East Sooke. Begin your exploration at one of the three entry points.

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CLICK HERE for East Sooke Park .pdf map and brochure

For information on reading PDF files, click here

Ayland Farm is popular with picnickers, and those looking for easy excursions. A 5 minute walk through 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 Maguire. 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 Barnacles, and Purple Sea Stars.east_sooke_park-2.jpg (9629 bytes)

East Sooke’s Coast trail is considered one of the premier day hikes in Canada, a west coast wilderness experience within easy reach of the city. The 10 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 you 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.

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 post.

As you travel the trail look for plants as old as time - Kinnikinnik, Oregon Grape, and Salal- surviving despite the hard 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 petroglyphs 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.

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east_sooke_park-3.jpg (14063 bytes)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 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 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 meters ( 6-9 feet) 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. Fishers reaped the riches bounty. From early Autumn , fish traps were secured in the sea bed. The trap shack at Cabin Point is solitary witness to those days.

 

How to get there

East Sooke Regional Park is located on the East Sooke Peninsula, 35 kilometers west of Victoria.

To reach the park, take the Old Island Highway (#1A) to Sooke Road. Follow Sooke Road (#7) to Happy Valley Road, turn left and continue down Happy Valley. Turn right on Rocky Point Road, which becomes East Sooke Road, and leads to park entrances at Aylard Farm, Anderson Cove, and Pike Road.

Allow approximately 60 minutes driving time from downtown Victoria.

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A Message to Park Visitors

CRD Parks belong to you. Park regulations exist so residents and visitors will always be able to enjoy and appreciate protected natural landscapes. Regulations are posted at par kiosks or are available from CRD Parks headquarters.

To help preserve parks for everyone to enjoy, obey all signs and:
carry out any litter
respect private property adjacent to the park
Keep dogs under control
To protect your parks, the following are prohibited
bicycles, horses, and motorized vehicles on park trails
firearms and alcohol
camping and open fires
removal of vegetation
hunting, harassment, or removal of any wildlife
Be prepared for Wilderness

East Sooke is one of the most spectacular parks in the region, attracting those looking for challenging hikes in a wilderness setting. This attraction can also be a danger. The mystical pull of East Sooke - Sharp cliffs wrapped in mist, crashing waves, sudden tides- are all natural hazards, especially if you’re unprepared.

To ensure your hike in East Sooke Regional Park is safe and enjoyable , remember these important hiking tips:
Know the trails - read maps, brochures and information panels
Leave enough time to return before dark
Don’t hike alone
Let someone know where you are going and when you will be back
Stay on the designated trail
If lost stay calm, make yourself visible and stay where you are until help arrives.

 

Hawk Migration

From mid September to late October, Turkey Vultures and Red-tailed Hawks, Peregrine Falcon, Merlin, American Kestrel, Cooper's Hawk, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Northern Harrier, Osprey, and Bald Eagle gather in East Sooke Park on the Southern tip of Vancouver Island; a staging area for south bound migrants which stop over here before crossing the 18+ miles of the open ocean of Juan de Fuca Strait on their way to Olympic National Park, Washington. Peak migration is at the end of September.

Directions: Follow the Beechy Head trail from the Aylard Farm, East Sooke Park Entrance. Stay to the left for about a 20 min walk on the trail until you see an unmarked path on the right that leads forward and up to rock bluff lookout. Follow this very short path, climb the rock - you are there.

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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

CLICK HERE for Victoria Bed and Breakfast

 

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