Galloping Goose Regional Trail
The Galloping Goose Regional Trail developed from a disused railway line begins at the Johnson Street bridge in downtown Victoria and goes in two directions. One direction goes to the Vancouver ferry terminal at Swartz Bay, 35km away. And the other 55km through the Western Communities, out past Sooke ending near the ghost town, Leechtown. The downtown portions of the trail are paved, however, past that the trail is packed down gravel and hard dirt trail. There are convenient kilometre markers all along the trail emanating from the Johnson Street starting point.
As popular for joggers as it is for walkers, hikers and cyclists, from downtown Victoria the Galloping Goose Trail is immediately impressive. The Selkirk Trestle, a ridiculously extravagant and long bridge spans the ocean inlet that branches off from the Inner Harbour. This beautiful, 300 metre long and several metres wide bridge is almost entirely constructed of wood. Large fir and hemlock beams that are perfectly suited to the start of a trail rich in history and in a city that is almost always beautiful. It doesn't matter if it is a gorgeous sunny day or a dreary and rainy day. Crossing the Selkirk Trestle in any weather is pretty, and that is just the first 5 minutes of the marvellous Galloping Goose Trail.
A hugely popular bike trail, the Galloping Goose gets its name from the train that used to run between Victoria and Sooke, a century ago. The train tracks are long gone, but the route remains. Now the Galloping Goose is part of the enormous Trans Canada Trail. The 15000 kilometre, multi-use trail stretches from coast to coast. There are endless variations to hiking, biking, walking and running the Galloping Goose Trail. There are dozens of good access points and many of them have dedicated free parking lots(see the maps for parking). Heading out from downtown Victoria you pass by several of Victoria's best hikes and hiking attractions. Fort Rodd Hill National Historic Park is just a short detour from the Galloping Goose Trail and well worth it. On a bike, the detour to Fort Rodd Hill is just 10 minutes. is astonishingly beautiful and incredibly interesting as a tourist attraction in Victoria that most never see. This fact is amazing as it is wonderful and unquestionably, or at least arguably, as good or better than any other attraction around. And at $3.90, what a phenomenal deal. You can crawl all over all the real pre World War I era defensive structures and even play with and all but fire a genuine World War II Anti-Aircraft Gun... which astonishingly is in the parking lot. Fort Rodd Hill has so much to see it spills onto the parking lot. What unbelievable place! Though you could make your way through at a rushed pace in about 30 minutes, expect to take over two hours at a moderate pace as there is such an astonishingly huge amount to see. The three connecting parks, Mill Hill, Thetis Lake and Francis/King are also fairly convenient side trips. East Sooke Park involves quite a detour, however if you access the Galloping Goose Trail from one of the trailheads near East Sooke Park, then including it in a day-trip is definitely feasible. Sooke Potholes is usually the end of the trail for most as it is quite an amazing and worthy goal and destination. The Sooke Potholes are a beautiful and unique place to see. Fantastic for swimming, though always very cold. Mill Hill Regional Park is a well hidden though wonderfully short hike to amazing views of Victoria, Esquimalt and the Western Communities. The hike is only 15 minutes to the summit with a branching trail that leads to Thetis Lake Park.
Witty's Lagoon Regional Park is a great network of trails and boardwalks that meander through an impressive Douglas-fir forest leading to the wonderful beach at Witty's Lagoon. The trails total over 5k, however, can be hiked in smaller sections. Many just head to the beach and lagoon and avoid the trails, but the trails are well worth a look. The trails run around the lagoon with great ocean and wildlife scenery. Sitting Lady Falls is wonderfully viewed from the very nice boardwalk.
Expect to take two hours if you walk most of the trails and far more if you stay to explore the beach and lagoon. Witty's Lagoon is teeming with wildlife. Fresh water pours into the salt water lagoon enabling an astounding array of plant and animal life. Rock crabs, fish, clams, purple sea stars, seals and dozens of different types of birds can be reliably seen on every visit. With the wide variety of life at Witty's Lagoon there is an interpretive centre to help you identify it all. Free to visit and open everyday.
Sooke is a wonderful coastal town with amazingly deep and beautiful forests, lakes and rivers. The Sooke Potholes is an extraordinary example of this. Over thousands of years swirling water have created amazingly deep pools in this otherwise, massive and crashing river. This has created an astonishing river-world fun park of sorts. Cliffs, fallen trees, rock outcrops over the river. Nothing, including the river ever runs in anything close to a straight line. So many amazing vantage points, so many unbelievable swimming spots. If you are interested in venturing further, you can follow the potholes for quite a distance. About 3k in fact, as they snake through the river valley. East Sooke Regional Park is a convenient and easily accessible way to experience the wild, west coast of Vancouver Island. Weather blasted rocky cliffs, sandy beaches and deep coastal forest trails run throughout the park. Every few minutes along the coast you come to another startlingly desolate ocean vantage point. Everything about East Sooke Park is just great and should not be missed on a trip to Victoria anytime of the year.