About forty-five minutes outside downtown Victoria is an explorer’s paradise: East Sooke Park. The park is over 14 square kilometers and features beaches, 50 kilometers of trails, viewpoints, and lots of great places for a picnic.
Visitors can park at any of the three entrances to the park: Anderson Cove, Pike Road, and Aylard Farm (the only accessible parking spaces are at Aylard Farm, although all park entrances have accessible outhouses). The Anderson Cove entrance is also accessible Monday-Friday by BC Transit on the #64 bus.
East Sooke Park has twelve hiking trails, from 200 meters to 10.5 kilometers in length, and ranging in difficulty from wide gravel pathways (perfect for a power wheelchair or TrailRider!) to steep, technical terrain for more experienced adventurers. There are also unofficial trails and local connectors throughout the park.
East Sooke Park is a special place, and it always feels peaceful. The forest runs right up to the coastline, and the views are spectacular, even on a cloudy day. Just south of Alldridge Point are petroglyphs carved into the rocks by people of the Coast Salish First Nations, which have been there for hundreds of years. There are also geocaches scattered throughout the park, which you can locate using the Geocache app.
I have been lucky to explore East Sooke Park both personally and professionally. Although it feels like I experience something new every time I’m there, my favourite place has always been Beecher Bay. A short (and accessible) walk from the Aylard Farm parking lot, the sandy beach is a great spot to have lunch, play some games, or launch a kayak to paddle around the bay. Tide pools appear along the rocky shoreline at low tide, providing park visitors with the chance to experience the intertidal zone, and the creatures that live in it.
If you are looking for a new place to explore with beautiful views, sandy beaches, accessible trails, and challenging hikes, East Sooke Park should be near the top of your list!