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Coastal views at the northern end of the trail
Coastal views at the northern end of the trail

Coast Trail Hike in East Sooke Park

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The 10 km hike on the Coast Trail in East Sooke Park is a standout if you’re looking for a full day outing near Victoria. The trailhead is only about a 45-minute drive from downtown Victoria. but it feels like a world away.

The hike along the Coast Trail in East Sooke is a great one from start to finish. It’s a model in contrasts: spectacular and rugged coastal scenery is broken by temperate rainforest filled with massive cedars and firs, some draped in moss. Throw in pocket beaches, tide pools, views of the Olympic Mountains, windswept pines and red barked arbutus trees, as well as swaths of wildflowers in season and you’ll understand the appeal of this hike in East Sooke Park.

You might not see a soul either. I didn’t see anyone for the first 90 minutes on a glorious Sunday.

The start of the Coast Trail at Pike Road in East Sooke Park
The start of the Coast Trail at Pike Road

Coast Trail in East Sooke Park

Make no mistake. The Coast Trail not an easy hike like coastal trails everywhere in British Columbia. The 10 km (6 miles) takes a solid five hours. The trail moves between shaded valleys and narrow cliff-side paths.

In wet weather, the trail would be slick. Other than the flat walk in or out from the parking lot at the northern trailhead, the trail offers nothing but continuous ups and downs. Like many a coastal trail, its name belies the level of difficulty.

Watch your footing constantly. Near the end of the trail when I was busy taking pictures, I stumbled ass over teakettle as the saying goes, and ended up splat in the bushes – fortunately with only my pride wounded.

Giant stumps can still be seen
Giant stumps can still be seen
The first glimpse of the beach at Iron Mine Bay
The first glimpse of the beach at Iron Mine Bay
Pocket Beach in Iron Mine Bay
Pocket Beach in Iron Mine Bay

Coast Trail Hike in East Sooke Park Logistics

The hike requires some pre-planning with respect to transportation logistics. A car shuttle or a drop off is the ideal scenario so you only need to hike it one way. Otherwise count on a brutal 10 + hour day.

Your options include starting at either Pike Road at the northern end of the trail or Aylard Farm at the southern end.

If that’s not possible consider doing a loop beginning and ending at Aylard Farm. Take the interior trail out to Cabin Point and return to the parking lot via the Coastal Trail. Don’t worry about finding your way either. Signage is excellent with an easy to understand map at every intersection. The loop hike is probably not a full 10 km (6 mi) but it will still take you a solid three to four hours.

You can take your dogs on the trail – and there is cellphone coverage though you might end up paying US roaming charges. There are no charges to visit this park.

Coastal views at the northern end of the trail
Coastal views at the northern end of the trail
Wildflowers are springing up
Wildflowers are springing up along the Coast Trail
Barnacle covered rocks and sea grass
Barnacle covered rocks and sea grass
Looking north up the west coast of Vancouver Island
Looking north up the west coast of Vancouver Island
You have to crane your neck to see the top of the trees
You have to crane your neck to see the top of the trees
Fantastic limbs on this tree
Fantastic limbs on this tree
Good signage on the Coast Trail at intersections
Good signage on the Coast Trail at intersections
One of the many pocket coves you hike by
One of the many pocket coves you hike by
I wonder what the age difference is between the trees
I wonder what the age difference is between the trees

The best time to do the hike

In theory, you can do this hike at any time of the year but it’s particularly lovely in spring with the wildflowers emerging. Avoid the hike during high wind storms when the groaning trees are sure to unnerve you or worse topple over. You can’t camp overnight but the park is open from sunrise to sunset.

If you only have a day to hike on the west coast of Vancouver Island then this is the trail to do. And petroglyph seekers take note; check out the rocks at Aldridge Point along the coast.

For more information visit the East Sooke Regional Park website.

Swaths of wildflowers in East Sooke Park
Swaths of wildflowers
Beautiful moss covered rocks along the Coast Trail
Beautiful moss covered rocks along the Coast Trail
Wind swept pine trees and a rocky shoreline in East Sooke Park
Wind swept pine trees and a rocky shoreline
Views to the Olympic Mountains from East Sooke Park
Views to the Olympic Mountains
Truly lovely forest walking on the Coast Trail
Truly lovely forest walking on the Coast Trail
Looking down at the Trap Shack
Looking down at the Trap Shack
A view out to sea from the Trap Shack in East Sooke Park
A view out to sea from the Trap Shack
Colourful sedum covers the rocks
Colourful sedum covers the rocks
Loved this section of the Coast Trail in East Sooke Park with all the colourful sedum
Loved this section of the Coast Trail with all the colourful sedum
Native Camas flowers (Indian hyacinth)
Native Camas flowers (Indian hyacinth)
Near the southern end of the Coast Trail in East Sooke Park
Near the southern end of the Coast Trail
The final easy section through the forest in East Sooke Park
The final easy section through the forest in East Sooke Park

Aylard Farm

If part of your group isn’t interested in hiking, they can spend many hours enjoying the area around Aylard Farm. It’s a great spot for a picnic. Even better, there’s a short but steep trail down to a pocket beach where you can explore the intertidal life. If you’re lucky you might even see river otters.

Places to stay in Sooke

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One of the loveliest places in Sooke is the Sooke Harbour House. We splurged and stayed here after hiking the Jian de Fuca Trail. Enjoy beautiful gardens, nicely appointed rooms and delicious food. I highly recommend it.

The Prestige Oceanfront Resort is a great mid-price option – and I can vouch for delicious food in their restaurant. Otherwise check out what is called the exceptional Sooke Point Ocean Cottage Resort.

Look for the yellow markers when you hike the Coast Trail
Look for the yellow markers when you hike the Coast Trail

Location map of the Coast Trail hike

                     

More Vancouver Island hikes you might enjoy

Click on the photo to bookmark to your Pinterest boards.

A gorgeous hike on the Coast Trail, East Sooke Park, BC

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