A Guide to East Sooke Park
Heading outdoors for a little wilderness exploration is a must for anyone visiting Vancouver Island. The island’s expansive shorelines and untouched old growth forests are magnetic, drawing tourists from around the globe, coming from vastly different areas.
Our small, coastal island offers visitors a world uniquely different to where they call home, whether home is a densely populated urban area, a friendly suburb, or (a virtually untouched) an almost-untouched rural terrain. Island locals often joke that this is the only place where one can ski and surf in the same day – a perfect place for the indecisive – but the truth behind this quirky little quote is strangely beautiful. From mountains to temperate rainforests to wide, sandy beaches, Vancouver Island has it all, and then some.
With so many possible ways to spend the day, it’s difficult to know where to begin. Want to skip the same tourist hot spots that top every must-see list? Head out to East Sooke Park to experience a taste of almost every natural wonder the island has to offer in one peaceful place. Head in to the park and discover a multitude of small beaches, tide pools teeming with life, untouched old growth trees, an array of wildlife, and all of it under the canopy of one of the island’s lesser known temperate rainforests.
East Sooke Park is most well-known for its Coastal Trail, an approximately 10 kilometer trail that runs the length of the entire park along the waterfront. The breathtaking beauty along the entire trail makes this journey a definite bucket-list item for avid hikers.
Want to soak in the scenery but skip the seven-hour hike? East Sooke Park has a multitude of trails as well as numerous entry and access points to its beaches, popular picnic areas, viewpoints, and even an old mine site. Trails running through the park vary greatly in length, some running only a few hundred meters from parking lot to nearest popular destination point.
Selecting a starting point can be daunting, but where you begin defines your entire experience. Choosing an entry point at random can lead to frustration, confusion, and disappointment. Skip the stress altogether with one simple question – where am I going?
East Sooke Park has a laundry list of must-see sites, and every one of them is plotted on park maps. Aylard Farm is perhaps the most popular – the trail is short and the terrain is flat, perfect for families with young children or short excursions. The trail offers access to a picnic area, a pocket beach, and an array of wildlife from river otters to intertidal pools housing a variety of sea creatures. From here, a short, uphill trail heading inland opens up to panoramic views of the area.
Make a day of it by heading to Anderson Cove. An ideal starting point for day hikes, the cove is located on the Sooke Basin, a must-see sight in its own right. From Anderson Cove, most hikers head up to Mount Maguire, where they are rewarded with panoramic views of the Olympic Peninsula. Bird lovers will love the brilliant close-ups of the Bald Eagles and Red-Tailed Hawks that frequent the area.
For those who prefer sea to sky, skip the hilltops and head out to Iron Mine Bay. The trail winds through rainforest and meadow and is relatively flat, with only one steep incline leading to the beachfront. The beach itself is home to an array of beach and ocean dwelling creatures such as sea stars, barnacles, and more, so watch your step!
East Sooke Park embodies both the spirit and the ecosystem of the island – it also offers the ideal landscape for visitors to explore and experience the island exactly the way they want to. What could be better? Reserve your stay with us and make sure you add East Sooke Park to your bucket list!