Sooke Just a few more miles down the road from the Moonlit Cove B & B is the small (though growing) Town of Sooke (rhymes with "spook"). The Sooke area boasts beautiful natural venues such as sandy beaches, clear rivers and lakes, and acres of forested lands laced with hiking trails for all types of hikers from the beginner to advanced.
Literally just steps below Moonlit Cove B & B is the Galloping Goose Trail, a hiking, biking, and cycling trail that runs from Victoria, past Sooke to Leechtown, a now-abandoned goldrush town.* Matheson Lake is perfect for summer swimming or passive canoeing. Whiffen Spit is a short drive past Sooke, about 10 minutes from Sooke Ocean View. Farther away are French Beach China Beach, and the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail.
The Sooke Potholes:
One of the most popular natural beauty spots in the Sooke area is the Sooke Potholes – a series of deep pools carved out of rock formations over eons by the Sooke River as it flows from the Sooke Hills down to the harbour.
This popular "swimming hole" is about a half hour from the Moonlit Cove B & B, and even though somewhat remote, it attracts swimmers and sightseers year round, and especially in the summer.
Sooke itself boasts west coast style giftshops, movie rentals, coffee shops, and excellent dining. There are a number of events held in Sooke throughout the year:
The Fine Arts Show (July) is an exhibition of Vancouver Island’s artists’ work.
Sooke also offers a world class dining experience - popular with the rich and famous, at Sooke Harbour House Restaurant.
Sooke Trails The famed West Coast Trail is the most famous trail along Vancouver Island’s west coast, while the popular nearby Juan de Fuca Marine Trail is a close runner-up. But a lesser-known trail completes a hat-trick of premier shoreline hiking opportunities on southern Vancouver Island, and avid pathfinders also might want to check out a few other compelling routes in the region.
The 10-kilometer (6.2-mile) Coast Trail in the 3,512-acre East Sooke Regional Park offers a beautiful hike along a rocky, jagged shore dotted with intriguing places. Along its length, you’ll find petroglyphs, sandy pocket beaches, flowery meadows and orchards from a pioneer farm, an old cabin once used by operators of a coastal salmon trap, and cliffs where pelagic cormorants roost.
Considered one of the best day hikes in all of Canada – camping is not allowed – the Coast Trail is so up and down and winding and rugged that it is rated a challenging hike that takes six to eight hours one way, even for experienced hikers. Some hiking guidebooks compare it favorably in terms of scenery to the Juan de Fuca and West Coast trails.
East Sooke Park is probably now the most popular outing of the club," says Ron Armstrong, president and one of the founders of Victoria Club Tread, one of the two very active outdoors groups based in the B.C. capital. "It’s the meat and potatoes of Club Tread because of the variety of terrain and the flora you’ll find there, the coastal forest of arbutus (madrona) and fir, sword ferns and salal."
From Mid May through to September, the Sooke Country Market - offering fresh local produce and crafts - is held every Saturday morning from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Established in 1913, the Sooke Fall Fair is one of the Sooke community’s longest running annual events and has been a staple of the rural life of Sooke residents for longer than most people can remember.
Held the second week of September, it continues to maintain its reputation of being one of the best "small town" agricultural fairs in BC.
Situated on the straits of Juan de Fuca. This 59 hectare park is situated on the Strait of Juan de Fuca 5 km east of Jordan River. Beautiful hiking trails lead you through second growth forest of Douglas fir, Ditka spruce, western hemlock and western red cedar to the beach. You will also find salal, Oregon grape, and evergreen huckleberries, and a large variety of ferns along the trails.
Once on the beach, there are excellent whale watching opportunities. These magnificent animals migrate to northern feeding grounds in the spring and return south in the fall.
French Beach is also an excellent location to observe seabirds, bald eagles, and ospreys. Otters, seals, and sea lions can also be seen playing offshore.
China Beach day-use area is a spectacular spot for family outings and day trips. The China Beach Campground is a separate facility, located in a forested area with open understory just east of the China Beach day-use area and Juan de Fuca East trailhead.
Second Beach is reached from a 1 km trail down from the campsite via stairs and a fairly steep gravel trail. The 15-20 minute hike (each way) through the mature forest of Sitka spruce, Douglas fir and Western red cedar leads visitors to the great rolling breakers of a tumultuous sea.
The abundance of life was what drew Dr. Josephine Tildon to choose Botanical Beach as the location for the University of Minnesota’s marine station in 1900. For seven years students and researchers came from all over the world to study here. To get to the station, a steamship would come from Victoria to Port Renfrew. From there it was on foot on a very muddy and narrow trail to the station. A better road in to the station was promised,however it did not materialize and the difficult access was considered a reason for the station’s closure in 1907. There are few remains of the station left today. Universities still use Botanical Beach for field trips,and research,under park use permits. The area became a Class A provincial park in 1989.
Botanical Beach has extensive upland habitat, but is best known for its abundance of intertidal life. A visitor can find hundreds of species of plants and animals. The organisms that live here must be able to handle a wide range of conditions. When the tide is out there are large changes in temperature, predators, food sources and salinity.
See the world-renowned creature-filled tide pools of Botanical Beach, where the Juan de Fuca Strait empties into the Pacific Ocean, amidst gorgeous sandstone cliffs ringed by unique stands of Pacific blown drift wood. Go in the winter and watch monster waves pound the reefs, explode up chasms and surge over rock formations. Watch Ospreys dive for dinner at the edge of a gorgeous tidal estuary filled with waterfowl. Paddle the San Juan delta’s myriad of channels, through moss covered forests, amidst mountains and magic floating rocks. In the fall, hundreds of Bald Eagles, hawks, vultures and bears all feast on spawning salmon. Trumpeter Swans, Pelicans and Great Blue Herons can also be seen.
(source: Sooke Tourism)
Love to fish?
The waters of Juan de Fuca strait, off Sooke, offer some of the finest fishing experiences in the world. Salmon, halibut, lingcod, and snapper are all there to provide exciting sports fishing action. Fishing in Sooke
Or you can drive up to Port Renfrew, about an hour’s drive west of Sooke, and take a fish boat ride up to the legendary Swiftsure Bank, off Vancouver Island’s south-west coast, which offers some of the most productive sport fishing in British Columbia Canada.
Websites of Interest:
Victoria is a portal to travel methods:
* In 1864 The Leech River gold rush led to a short-lived population boom in Sooke and the surrounding area.
Statistics show that as many as 4,000 miners once worked more than 1,000 mining claims in the area. A tent city at Leechtown grew up overnight. People back in Victoria anxiously awaited the latest news of the gold. When word arrived that a $70 nugget had been found, the rush was on. Within days, hordes of miners had arrived, the first crude buildings were being erected and even Gov. Kennedy visited the scene for himself what was going on.
Alas, the gold did indeed speak for itself. By 1865, only one short year after the discovery, the gold had reached its peak, passed it…and gone beyond. It seemed all the gold that was going to be taken out had been and the town was soon deserted by the miners, who drifted away to seek out other more promising prospects. The "rush" was over.
Read more here…