Posted on 23 Apr
Vancouver Island is home to some of the West Coast’s most spectacular wilderness, from windswept, rocky coasts and tranquil, secluded coves to snow-capped mountains and towering rain forests. With the spring season upon us, here are some of The Agency’s favourite hiking trails, whether taking a day hike or an extended multi-day adventure.
EAST SOOKE REGIONAL PARK - More than 50 km of trails await in the East Sooke Regional Park, located approximately one hour from Victoria. The park features scenic pocket beaches, rocky bays, tide pools with incredible scuba diving, and a range of trails ideal for both the novice and the avid adventurer. Easier routes can be found in the Aylard Farm area, popular with picnickers and families, featuring hilltop, forest and ocean views. Anderson Cove at the Sooke Basin is popular for hikers heading to Mount Maguire to enjoy incredible birdwatching (bald eagles and red-tailed hawks) and sweeping views of the Olympic Peninsula. The challenging and steep 10 km Coast Trail is one of the premier day hikes in all of Canada, offering a 6-hour trip across bluffs, through forests, to the edge of the sea.
JUAN DE FUCA MARINE TRAIL - Reopening April 30th for the season, the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail is situated on Vancouver Island’s west coast and is the highlight of the Juan de Fuca Provincial Park. Winding through 47 km of pristine wilderness, the trail is designed for strenuous day or multi-day hikes, but also features some more moderate day hiking opportunities. Along the way you’ll encounter old growth forest, tide pools, roaring surf and quartz rock formations. You’re likely to spot breeching grey whales and orcas, feeding just off the points, as well as seals and sea lions playing offshore. The region is also a prime habitat for bears. The more remote location of the trail means preparation is key, as the weather can change quickly, and the trail features some rugged grounds and steep slopes.
MOUNT FINLAYSON - Located less than a half-hour outside of Victoria in Goldstream Provincial Park, Mount Finlayson is a steep hiking trail, popular among exercise enthusiasts. Don’t let the shorter 4 km distance (about 90 minutes roundtrip) fool you. The trail climbs 410 meters to the summit, where on clear days the views south toward Langford are spectacular and well worth the ascent.
MOUNT BENSON LOOP - The iconic, 8 km trail overlooking Nanaimo, Mount Benson Loop is perfect for those seeking a great workout or day hike. Climbing 730 meters in elevation, the trail features varying terrain through old growth forest and captures fantastic views of Nanaimo, the Coast Mountains and the Strait of Georgia. You don’t have to trek all the way to the top to enjoy a great hike, with plenty of spots to stop and take in the views along the way.
WILD PACIFIC TRAIL - The infamous Wild Pacific Trail in Ucluelet is one of the most popular in British Columbia, offering an incredible experience for the whole family. Carving through old-growth thickets in the temperate coastal rainforest along the Ucluth Peninsula, the trail traces the edge of reefs, where whales migrate and views encompass the Pacific Ocean, rocky shoreline, Barkley Sound and the Broken Group Islands. The Wild Pacific Trail features two main sections, including the 2.6 km Lighthouse Loop and the 5 km Big Beach trail. A stop at the Ancient Cedars grove is a must, featuring 800-year-old trees. The trail enjoys a dense rainforest canopy, providing a natural umbrella, though the trail is worth exploring when seas are rough to capture views of the massive waves breaking along the shore.