The Galloping Goose Regional Trail is a multi-use trail that connects Victoria to Sooke, approximately fifty five kilometers distance. This old rail bed was built during the nineteen twenties for a passenger train. Although it is never far from busy streets, walking, hiking and cycling, as well as sections that include use by equestrians, along the trail removes one from the bustling cars with glimpses of squirrels, flowers, trees and beautiful lookout points. The trail starts in the Victoria West neighborhood of Victoria, B.C., and continues onto Saanich, View Royal, Colwood, Langford, Metchosin and Sooke.
The Galloping Goose Trail – Sooke lies along the eastern side of the District of Sooke, one of thirteen communities that form the Capital Regional District of British Columbia. This scenic twenty kilometer section of the trail is east the Sooke Harbour and head ups to the abandoned mining town of Leechtown. The trail passes through coniferous forests of coastal Western hemlock, red cedar and Douglas fir trees as you walk, cycle, or horseback ride. The trail passes close to beaches, above roaring creeks and rivers and around small lakes. Large ferns, salal and Oregon grape plants are seen along the route.
Located along the shores of Sooke Harbour, Roche Cove Regional Park makes for a good spot to start along this rural section of the Galloping Goose Trail. There is a small parking area that is located off Gillespie Road. There are toilets located here too. The GGT runs for about 20 kilometers from Roche Cove Regional Park to Sooke Potholes Provincial Park and Leechtown. Although the trail is mostly a level grade, it covers bumpy but well packed ground with the exception of stretches of gravel near several bridges.
The parking area beside Roche Cove Regional Park occurs at ‘Km 35’ on the east side of Sooke Basin. From here views begin to open up to the west, and the temptation is to pause beside the clear blue-green ocean water to enjoy the view. Along this stretch, a number of rough picnic spots can be reached by a short scramble downhill. The forested environment features broadleaf maple that burn gold and red in autumn. In the spring, snowbrush scents the air and its white clusters of flowers provide a rich contrast to the evergreens. You’ll encounter light traffic wherever you go along this portion of the trail, where butterflies and birds can be plentiful during the springtime.
Shortly after starting along the GGT-Sooke from Roche Cove you’ll pass over a small creek that flows into Sooke Basin, Gillespie Creek. Near the mouth of the creek is the original weekend home of the Victoria financier George Gillespie, the home is a bed and breakfast, at last account, called Grouse Nest. The trail traces around Arbutus Cove in the Sooke Harbour Basin. There are few places for swimming on a summer day. The trail continues to circle the shoreline of the Sooke Basin, where picture perfect views entice you to stop and take a break to enjoy the beauty of this basin that is part of the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Pacific Ocean. Several more creeks flow into the basin including Veitch Creek and Lannon Creek. Benches along the way are dedicated to those people who loved the Sooke area, and provide nice break points in your travels of the trail. There are a couple of smaller road crossings as well as the Highway 14 Sooke Road at ‘Km 39’ after which the trail gradually ascends to Leechtown. After the trail crosses over Ludlow Road, which is another good point to access the GGT, the trail continues across Ayum Creek. Ayum Creek Regional Park Reserve was created to help protect and enhance the riparian and aquatic habitat for this salmon bearing creek. Continue along the trail as it crosses over Harbourview Road, Woodlands Road and parallels Blythwood Road for about a kilometer. Another area with a small parking lot is off a short trail from the west end of Wisterwood Way West road.
The Galloping Goose Trail continues behind the elementary and high schools and eventually crosses over Kirby Road, Meota Drive and start to parallels the Sooke River Road. A parking area off Sooke River Road near Charters Creek has toilets. This parking area has an overflow lot located across the road that is available when the stainless steel fence-gate is unlocked and opened.
The next six kilometers of trail take you through the coniferous forests of Sooke with a couple of trestle bridges over deep ravines. Close to ‘Km 45′ cross over Charters Creek on the Charters Trestle, a steel structure that spans the ravine. About a kilometer further is the parking area for visitors for Sooke Potholes Park. Then another kilometer along is the Todd Trestle, wooden bridge that spans the ravine of Todd Creek. Eventually the trail emerges alongside parking lots for the Sooke Potholes Park and the salmon-bearing Sooke River. There are many lovely pools for swimming in the hot days of summer although stop where the slope to the water is less steep. After a good bike ride, you’ll want to cool off; here is your chance! If you decide to take a dip further up the river too you’ll notice that the water is colder. The parallel track of the Galloping Goose Trail and the Sooke River continues for the last eight kilometers. From Todd Trestle to the abandoned mining village of Leechtown there is a gradual slope during which where you can admire the tranquility and quiet of the replanted forests. And eventually notice the “Km 55″ marker and realized that the Leechtown marker is about another five hundred meters along the trail. The end of the trail is actually the beginning of another park, Kapoor Regional Park. Reverse your route for your return. This is an enjoyable outing for a walk, or cycle, in your back yard.
Geographical location N48° 22′ 28″ W123° 37’ 60” at Roche Cove Park
The Galloping Goose Trail – Sooke can be reached from the Trans Canada Highway. Take the Langford Parkway exit and follow along to reach Sooke Road (Hwy 14). Follow the Sooke Road to turn left onto Gillespie Road. Follow the winding Gillespie Road to reach Roche Cove Park. There are signs indicating the turn off for the parking area that are easily missed. To reach the western section of the GGT that heads toward Sooke, cross over Gillespie Road from the parking area for Roche Cove Park.
Grouse Nest news article https://www.sookenewsmirror.com/community/sooke-history-grouse-nest/