On Vancouver Island, there may not be a more beautiful season than spring – especially if you’re a hiker. Whether you prefer easy hikes through the woods or challenging yourself with a climb, the spring provides the perfect mix of warm weather, wildflowers, budding trees and spring breezes. To celebrate the spring, we’ve rounded up our favourite hikes from Sooke to Courtney! So pack your camera, water and favourite field guide and come see why Vancouver Island is one of the most beautiful places on Earth! We want to acknowledge that these magnificent hikes are located on the unceded territory of the Scia’new, T’Sou-ke, Tsartlip, Tseycum,Tsawout, Lake Cowichan, Malahat, Cowichan Tribes, Snaw-naw-as and K’omoks (respectively) and we are honoured that we get to live and play on this land.
Sooke is a magical little town on the edge of the Pacific and home East Sooke Regional Park. Just steps from the stunning Pacific Coast Beach House you can experience 50 kilometers of trails through pristine West Coast wilderness as you ramble along the rocky, windswept coast, through dense forest, up hilltops and find private sheltered coves along the shoreline.
One of the most popular multi-use trails in the lower Island is the Galloping Goose that runs from Sooke all the way to downtown Victoria. This 60 kilometer stretch of trail has many access points like the one nearby Arbutus Hill in Metchosin and is a perfect way to enjoy semi-wilderness hiking through rural and urban settings.
While you may have hiked a few miles through downtown Victoria seeing the sights, Dallas Road offers one of the most stunning urban nature trails on the West Coast. This easy 5.9 kilometer walk will take you all the way from Fisherman’s Wharf in James Bay to the end of Ross Bay Beach in Fairfield. Booking a stay at either Beacon Hill View, Seaglass Suite, Reef Executive Condo or Barkley Manor Executive Suite will ensure that you are only steps away from this incredible trail.
If you’re looking for a more challenging hike, Mount Douglas Park is the most popular moderate hike in the Victoria area. While there are lots of trails all throughout the park, the climb from the beach to the peak is one of the most satisfying with 360 degree views of the inlet, peninsula and Victoria below.
There are few better places to find exceptional hiking on the Peninsula than Gowlland Tod Provincial Park and if you’re lucky enough to stay at Prospect Lake Country Cottage, this park is just a short drive away. Gowlland Tod is known for the carpet of spring wildflowers and moss covered rocky outcrops. With over 25 kilometers of hiking trails at varying degrees of difficulty, this is the perfect park for every skill level.
The Lochside Trail is the perfect place to head for a sunny walk while staying at the Oceanside Lodge on the Saanich Inlet or Ardmore Executive House. It runs from Swartz Bay ferry terminal all the way to Victoria where it intersects with the Galloping Goose. This immense, multi-use trail is flat, well maintained and the perfect way to explore the Saanich Peninsula.
If you’re looking for a great hike from the Malahat Mountain House or Cowichan Bay Oceanfront Estate, the Cowichan Valley Trail is an easy and extensive stretch of The Great Trail that meanders through the scenic Cowichan Valley. It’s here that you can see and walk over the historic Kinsol Trestle, one of the only free- standing timber trestles in the world. At an impressive 44 meters high and 187 meters long, this is something you won’t want to miss!
If you’re looking for a bit more of a challenge, Cobble Hill Mountain is a local favourite. There are easier hikes around the perimeter but the scale to the top of the mountain is as exhilarating as it is exhausting with varying ecosystems throughout and panoramic views at the summit.
Only steps from the sprawling Hammond Bay Executive Stay is the gorgeous Linley Valley Park, a calm, densely forested 145 acre park just north of Nanaimo. It’s a great park to spot wildlife as you hike either easy or moderate trails that take you through valleys, open fields and over wooden bridges.
While Englishman River Falls Provincial Park doesn’t provide a sprawling network of hiking trails, the sunning waterfalls set amid an old growth forest are worth the trip whether you are staying close by at Nanoose Bay Country Home, Ravenwood Cottage, Columbia Beach House or farther away. Walk across the bridge and watch as the water cascades down into the canyon, marvel at the awe-inspiring old growth Douglas fir, cedar, hemlock and maple.
Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park provides visitors with an easy 3 kilometer loop around the provincial park and at low tide, Rathtrevor Beach becomes a enormous, spectacular swath of soft sand to walk along for hours exploring the sandy tide pools, dip toes in the water and enjoy the peace of the beach in spring. This is also the perfect place for amateur ornithologists to watch seabirds congregate for the annual herring spawn and migrating Brant geese.
Kye Bay Beach House is right near one of the most beautiful spots in the Comox Valley, Nymph Falls. An easy 3 kilometer loop on the north side of the Puntledge River. The falls cascade over fish ladders that were blasted out to help spawning salmon swim upstream and are now a popular hiking and picnicking spot. People with mobility issues can access the falls via the well maintained trail and enjoy one of the most popular spots in the valley.
The east side of Seal Bay Nature Park, visitors can walk through a beautiful second growth forest and explore deep ravines, see a seasonal waterfall and hike down a steep path to a rocky beach where seals bob out of the water and sunbathe on the rocky off-shore. The west side of Seal Bay offers fairly flat, meandering multi-use trails. The Forest Loop is a fantastic and easy 7 kilometer loop through the forest.