Sooke trails are hard to beat. In fact, I could probably come up with enough epic trail run routes to complete this blog series just in Sooke alone. But, since Sooke is a 40 minute drive from downtown Victoria, I decided to feature two of my Sooke favourites: the Coast Trail in East Sooke Park and Mt. Quimper in the Sooke Hills. This weekend we opted for Quimper as the weather wasn’t that great, and the Coast Trail can get dangerously slick in the rain.
You can take a few different routes to get to the summit, but the easiest to find (and the only one we’ve run) takes about 50 minutes to an hour to get the the top, and about 30-40 minutes to get back down again.
2) Mt. Quimper (Harbour View Road -> Gravel logging road trail -> Mt. Quimper summit trail)
Trail name(s): There are no official trail names in this park yet — the CRD is in the process of delevoping this area (known as the Sea to Sea Regional Park Reserve) into a park –, so we just call it the “logging road trail” and the “turn off to the summit trail”.
Terrain: Loose gravel, water-eroded rocks, forested single-track trail over roots and moss, well-ridden mountain bike trails. Trail shoes are recommended. Watch for mountain bikers!
Parking: Lots of parking spots at the trail head at the end of Harbour View Road once you enter the park gates — there are even spots for RVs and camper trailers!
Trail access: To the right of the outhouses — you’ll see a large gate before the start of the wide gravel trail.
Facilities: Outhouses at the trail head, a water trough for horses and tap and hose to wash the dirt off your mountain bike (or mucky dog).
Distance: About 11-12km.
Time: Anywhere from 1:30 hour to 2:00.
Description: I’m not gonna lie, the first 2-3 km of this trail run sucks. It’s a gradual uphill climb on a wide gravelly logging road, and there isn’t anything particularly interesting to look at. It climbs up like this for a good 20 minutes before leveling out a bit, then gradually climbs again. The fun trail starts at about the 3 kilometre mark, where you take a right and head into the bushes on a mountain bike trail. The climb is steeper now but much more fun, as you jump over roots and scramble up rocks as you make your way to the top. Just keep an eye out for mountain bikers as you run this trail — they like to rip down, so be courteous and hop out of the way!
The summit is definitely the best part of this run. On a clear day, you can see the snow-capped peaks on the Olympic Mountains in the States, as well as incredible views of the Sooke Basin. There is also an old 1950s fire tower at the top which you can go in, just watch your footing as it’s pretty rickety.
Trail Rating (out of four stars)
Overall: The horrible “max out your heart rate monitor” climb at the start is definitely worth the view at the top!
Next week: Coast Trail in East Sooke Park
Previous week: Pipiwai Trail in Maui