Water District Biketrails

Bicycle Touring 

732 words

Title: Water District Biketrails; by Terry Connellan

Victoria Water District provides interesting ride

Someday intrepid bicyclists will be able to traverse 
Vancouver Island on trails formed from abandoned 
rail lines and logging roads. This two day tour is a 
preview of things to come. 
           
Take an early morning start on the Brentwood to Mill 
Bay ferry. northwest of the city of Victoria. From there 
it is an 18 kilometer ride to Shawnigan Lake, and on 
to a lunchtime swim at West Shawnigan Lake Park. 
When you've recovered your cycling legs, head 
south to the junction of Sooke Lake road and head 
west.
           
Up a zigzag gravel road for just under 5 kms you will 
see Sooke Lake ahead and the old CN rail bed 
branching off to the left invites good riding. As you 
go, look for a small waterfall on the left side of the trail. 
There is a pipe running drinking water that has an iron 
taste, but it's hardly noticeable when you're thirsty. 
          
It is interesting to note that there is no sign of a 
deleterious effect from logging in this The Greater 
Victoria Water Supply Area. Up here on the trail, 
many metres above and away from the lake shore, 
the view is spectacular. 
           
Watch for wildlife, there is plenty of bear scat, and 
it's a good idea to have a tree planters bell hung 
on the bike to give warning, a referees whistle in your 
pocket, and a canister of bear spray handy in a holster 
just to be safe. We saw deer, and my cycling partner 
the bird watcher Ellen Tremblay identified a  wide 
variety including the booming of Blue Grouse. 
           
At the remains of the wooden trestle, pick up the 
gravel road on the right, take it past the dam, and 
further on to the water control station. Just to the east 
you can get back on the rail-trail to Leechtown and 
The Galloping Goose Trail to Milne's Landing. 
           
Not far along is "Yuens' Folly" one man's unfulfilled 
dream of massive proportions. At this point the sight 
of the falls on the Sooke River are a photographers 
delight, as are the views from the trestles to be 
crossed on the way south. There are some great 
looking swimming holes just off the road. 
           
If you are touring self-sustained this might be a good 
time to pick a quiet spot on the trail to overnight.
Make yours a pristine presence, zero impact, no 
fires, take only memories, leave only footprints, 
you know the drill. After a good sleep it's only a 
3-4 hour ride back to Victoria.
           
There are alternatives available for the intelligent, 
perceptive and deserving cyclist. Spoil yourself 
shamelessly at one of the areas bed & breakfasts, 
and dining rooms. Just west of the Sooke River 
Bridge, across the road from the Sooke Regional 
Museum is Belvista B&B at 6397 Belvista Place. 
Your hosts Joe and Pauline will even ferry your 
tired bones the 7 kms east to the Seventeen Mile 
House to be pampered over dinner by 
cyclist/owner Noni. 
           
You may wish to continue into town to Margison 
House at 6605 Sooke Rd, with its tiny foot of the 
garden cottage. They are open Thursday-Sunday, 
and serve dinner overlooking the garden, Friday 
and Saturday from an extensive menu and wine 
list. After dinner stroll down to the gazebo and 
indulge in a game of giant's chess.
           
The ultimate west coast dining experience is the 
justifiably famous Sooke Harbour House. Jacuzzi 
away the days ride in front of fireplace or ocean 
view. There is even a massage available by 
appointment. 

When you are ready, descend to the best dining 
anywhere. I won't attempt to describe the food 
and wine, let me just say it will leave you smiling 
at the memory for time to come. 
           
Sleep late, breakfast hearty, and allow for a 
noonday start back to Victoria on the flat, scenic 
Galloping Goose Trail. 

This is an easy 4 hour tour so ride it with your 
senses on full alert. There is a wide array of 
wildlife, flowers, sights and sounds that want 
to make your acquaintance, so give them the 
opportunity. 
           
When you get home I want you to keep this 
adventure a secret. Don't tell anyone unless, 
like you and me, they deserve it.                                                  
           
           
Terry Connellan is a veteran long distance 
cycle tourer who occasionally shares his 
adventures. He tells us that: The Outdoor 
Club of Victoria's Hiking Trails 1, and Richard 
Blier's comprehensive "Island Adventures" 
are an invaluable assist in preparing for this trip. 


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