Hiking in Victoria

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    I found myself in Victoria recently, and with a bit of time to explore I headed out with a friend to East Sooke Regional Park.
    Our hike started from Aylard Farm, a 40-minute drive from downtown Victoria. After a short walk through open fields, we merged onto the Interior Trail and had an uphill slog for about 30 minutes. The uphill section was a bit of work, but the absolute silence, dense forest and moss-draped trees provided a very calming, Zen-like vibe. After a short downhill section we merged into the Coast Trail, which is where the real beauty of the hike lies.
    The trail meanders along the shore; the scenery is classic west coast: wind, waves, ocean, mossy rainforest and gnarled arbutus trees growing out of the rocky shoreline. There is even an old trapper’s cabin at the aptly-named Cabin Point. The cabin is just walls, floor and a roof, but is in good shape and provides an excellent spot for a picnic lunch – or to just relax and admire the view.
    From Cabin Point the Coast Trail follows the shoreline north-west (towards Sooke) and south-east (back towards Aylard Farm and the parking lot). If you travel west, you would need to have transportation at the other end – hiking the entire Coast Trail from end to end (10km) typically requires a car at each end of the trailhead.
    There are some interesting petroglyphs in the rocks at Alldridge Point, a reminder of the Coast Salish people who inhabited the area. Sea life abounds – seals are commonly spotted bobbing among the kelp beds and eagles and seabirds are everywhere. Our round trip hike took about four hours at a fairly easy pace.
    Practical Points: The Coast Trail may be a “walk in the park”, but it is not a hike for beginners. There are some rocky scrambles and moderately-challenging sections, so a decent pair of hiking shoes is recommended. The trail is generally well-marked, but it can be easy to lose at certain points. If your path runs out just backtrack, look around and chances are you’ll spot the yellow trail markers.
    East Sooke Regional Park is a must-visit area for any outdoor enthusiast. There are trails for every skill level, including wheelchair-accessible picnic areas and easy walking (but very scenic) trails.

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