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Sooke Hills Wilderness Park / Trail


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#1 VicHockeyFan

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Posted 08 May 2017 - 04:18 PM

Opens next month.

 

CRD info:   https://www.crd.bc.c...ills-wilderness

 

TC last year:

 

http://www.timescolo...river-1.2265341

 

****pdf map:

 

https://www.crd.bc.c...ap.pdf?sfvrsn=2


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#2 rjag

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Posted 08 May 2017 - 04:45 PM

I hope it doesnt interfere with Pamela Madoffs view.....



#3 Cassidy

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Posted 09 May 2017 - 06:36 AM

This is actually pretty big news for those folks who feel that between he CRD and the private forest companies, much of the South island wild landscape has been fenced off.

 

Not only does this trail wind through the previously inaccessible reserve, it appears to wander just South-East of Japan Gulch, which is solidly within the watershed itself. 

 

I question the security notes in the TC article though, as fencing and security cameras along the entire route seem somewhat difficult to believe ... but I'm sure some folks will test the boundaries of the trail to see if they can poke their noses into the watershed, with access long denied residents of the Capital Region ... curiosity will no doubt drive some to seek a side-trail up to places like the long hidden, but stunningly beautiful Council Lake.


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#4 VicHockeyFan

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Posted 09 May 2017 - 06:50 AM

^ And is there any harm in hikers poking in there?  I presume wildlife swims, dies, uses the watershed for a bathroom etc.


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#5 nagel

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Posted 09 May 2017 - 07:11 AM

Whoa we agree on something.  I hope by the time I have some of my freedom back the watershed lands will be legally explorable.  As it is I'm planning on biking this trail from home to Lake Cowichan sometime this summer.  I saw on Reddit that the trail opens June 23.  Would certainly be easier to bike from Lake Cow home but who's going to drop me off in Lake Cow in the morning.  So, uphill it is.



#6 Cassidy

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Posted 09 May 2017 - 01:58 PM

^ And is there any harm in hikers poking in there?  I presume wildlife swims, dies, uses the watershed for a bathroom etc.

Their big fear is always fire, which makes sense ... except for the 3/4 of the year that the woods are soaking wet here in our little temperate rain forest, and a fire is literally impossible.

 

I think the watershed access denial is typical bureaucratic dogma, with no real validation.

But the denial of access to the Sooke Reserve is really crap, based on there being no services and no marked trails - in other words, we can't access the Sooke Reserve for our own safety ... but no trails and no services happens to be exactly what 99% of the hard core hikers are looking for!

 

Combined with the lack of access forced on us all by the private forest companies, it really means that a good 80% of the South Island woods are completely inaccessible to the folks that live here. Even though you can access a bit of land between Shawinigan Lake and Port Renfrew, you really have to go to North of Cowichan Lake in order to even get into the back woods. It's a shame really.

 

It doesn't make any sense ... until you realize that the CRD harbors deep desires to keep everybody out of not only the watershed, but all surrounding lands - and to do so for all time.

There are a few folks they haven't managed to kick out, largely First Nations and Placer Miners ... but for most others, the majority of that land is shut down for good now in terms of access.

 

SO ...  this new trail which goes through both the reserve and the watershed is a nice opening to get folks back into what is very beautiful and very rough back-country that has been closed to all for some time now.


Edited by Cassidy, 09 May 2017 - 01:59 PM.

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#7 nerka

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Posted 09 May 2017 - 02:41 PM

Combined with the lack of access forced on us all by the private forest companies, it really means that a good 80% of the South Island woods are completely inaccessible to the folks that live here. Even though you can access a bit of land between Shawinigan Lake and Port Renfrew, you really have to go to North of Cowichan Lake in order to even get into the back woods. It's a shame really.

Totally agreed.

 

In fact it is even worse than that as the extensive private forest lands continue all the way to basically Campbell River.  The companies open their roads some of the time, but access to popular areas like the Chemainus River, Mt Arrowsmith, Comox Lake and Glacier and the Oyster River are often cut off for long periods of time.

 

Vancouver has the closed off watershed as well, but at least there is no local government is trying to restrict access to the surrounding areas nor are there vast private land holdings



#8 Bruce

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Posted 28 May 2017 - 09:30 PM

Does anyone know where the north end of this trail will be, relative to roads in the area ? The PDF map on the CRD website doesn't show roads.

 

I think it's somewhere south of the south Shawnigan Lake Road turnoff from the Malahat, but I want to know whether I will be able to continue north from the north end of the Sooke Hills Wilderness Trail. It would be a lovely ride to connect with the trail west of Shawnigan Lake over the Kinsol Trestle.

 

The new Sooke Hills Wilderness Trail isn't yet included in the CRD online GIS map at https://maps.crd.bc.ca



#9 nagel

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Posted 05 June 2017 - 07:42 AM

Does anyone know where the north end of this trail will be, relative to roads in the area ? The PDF map on the CRD website doesn't show roads.

 

I think it's somewhere south of the south Shawnigan Lake Road turnoff from the Malahat, but I want to know whether I will be able to continue north from the north end of the Sooke Hills Wilderness Trail. It would be a lovely ride to connect with the trail west of Shawnigan Lake over the Kinsol Trestle.

 

The new Sooke Hills Wilderness Trail isn't yet included in the CRD online GIS map at https://maps.crd.bc.ca

You're right that the maps are not very good.

 

The southernmost section of the Cowichan Valley Trail was previously Sooke Lake Rd.  The CVRD was responsible for going further south to the CVRD-CRD boundary, which is the end of the Sooke Hills Wilderness Trail.  I assume they did so because they committed to doing so.  When Sooke Hills Wilderness is open this means you can bike a complete trail from the JSB to Lake Cowichan if you ignore a bit of on-road through Westhills etc.


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#10 Mike K.

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Posted 05 June 2017 - 07:57 AM

From Victoria to Lake Cowichan? Seriously?

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#11 Coreyburger

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Posted 05 June 2017 - 08:06 AM

Here is the CVRD portion:

https://www.cvrd.bc....nter/View/65465



#12 nagel

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Posted 05 June 2017 - 12:30 PM

From Victoria to Lake Cowichan? Seriously?

Yes I hope to get wife approval to try it out in July or August.  I suspect it's going to take a good 5-6 hours.


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#13 Mike K.

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Posted 05 June 2017 - 12:33 PM

PS, check your private messages, yo!


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#14 Cassidy

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Posted 05 June 2017 - 01:33 PM

Going South to North, you'd get on the trail at the Humpback Reservoir, and continue on to Sooke Lake Road just before the North main gate to the watershed (right before the turnoff to Cougar Heights).

There the trail will join up with the already existing trail called "Government Road" on Google Maps ... and this "road" goes to, and then across the Kinsol Trestle ... and on to Cowichan Lake.

 

The specific route appears to take you from Humpback Reservoir, along the Kapor Mainline (long closed to the public), between the CRD watershed security offices and Japan Gulch, and then on to the Niagara Mainline (I presume the trail runs alongside these active mains), then up the Niagra Main for around 5 or 6 clicks. This is pretty big news, as the Niagara Main has been closed to the laity for a generation or more. 

The only folks using the Niagra Main have been CRD watershed security, and assorted CRD watershed contractors doing maintenance of roads, trees, and stream banks.

 

After 5 or 6 clicks North on the Niagara Main, the trail appears to break off as the Niagara Main curves to the West, and the new trail keeps heading straight North, where it meets up with the existing (but largely inaccessible) trail that has long been planned for this leg of the journey ... this bit of the trail starts just West of Wigglesworth Lake up on Goldstream Heights Drive.

 

 A lot of the Northern portion of the new trail has been around for a while now, accessible from Sooke Lake Road by the Shawnigan watershed gate. 

 

An interesting feature of this trail will be the elevation gain, and the subsequent changes in the weather at those elevations. Anybody who's been in Victoria on a sunny Winter day, and then driven to Shawnigan, and then up Goldstream Heights Drive - only to wind up in a snow and wind storm will know what I mean.

 

The weather up on this part of the new trail isn't the weather you get in town ... or even in Shawnigan Lake.

 

So the entirety of the trail seems to go through the Southern portion of the Sooke Hills Regional Park Reserve (no public access) - then into the Goldstream Watershed Area (no public access) - and then back into the Northern portion of the Sooke Hills Regional Park Reserve (no public access) - and into the CVRD from there.

 

That's a lot of "No Public Access" lands that suddenly become "Public Access" lands.

Wandering off the trail will probably be difficult, if not impossible ... but that's a lot of pretty wild country coming online for public access, most of the Southern portion of the trail having been strictly off limits since there were summer cabins up on the shores of Sooke Lake, fishermen up on Council Lake, and lots of Victoria families vacationing all through what's now the completely closed watershed.

 

 

 


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#15 manuel

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Posted 05 June 2017 - 09:18 PM

Not on viewranger yet.

Cool. I'll be able to run on trails from Butchart Gardens to Cowichan Lake as soon as a little connector is built across from Goldstream. no clue how I'd get back. Max elevation around 450 m, or a bit higher than Finlayson - so not too much more snow.

Make that Francis king to Thetis to Stewart mountain to Mount Work to Partridge Hills to Butchart to Gowland Tod to Finlayson to Goldstream, Mt Wells, Shawnigan, cowichan River, lake cowichan.

To really complete things, a connector to Sooke Hills and the potholes would be awesome!

that any finishing off the E&N rail trail through Langford to Humpback Road...

Edited by manuel, 05 June 2017 - 09:20 PM.

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#16 manuel

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Posted 24 June 2017 - 12:39 PM

Ran the Sooke Wilderness trail this morning from Humpback reservoir to past the connection to the CVRD portion. The first couple of kilometers to the new suspension bridge are quite beautiful, on hard pack trail winding through the forest. From there to the 8.5 km point is a hard slog up the Niagara Mainline ?logging? road. There is a beautiful old douglas fir forest on the downhill side. After this, the trail cuts through an old clear cut for a while, but there are really good views. Before and after it reaches the Goldstream Heights Road there are lots of steep ups and downs, now on a hard pack trail. From there it is a short jaunt over a narrow hiking trail (bikes take the road here) to the CVRD connection.

The first few km of the CVRD trail (to where i turned around) are more beautiful than the CRD portion, with lots of steep hills, Vistas and more surrounding trees.

On the trail I saw 2 deer, 1 black bear, a bunch of cyclists and a stream of hikers heading to the suspension bridge. Cycling past the suspension bridge would require both a cyclo cross or mountain bike, and a serious set of gears, lungs and legs to get up the 15% grade hills.

Overall, I would say that the trail is a significant addition to the regional and island trail network. Had I gone one way or been cycling, the Kinsol Trestle would have easily been reachable. That said, I feel that the name isn't correct. The trail doesn't give a feeling of wilderness- instead past the bridge it feels simply like one is on a logging road, and the effort was spent on blocking off access to the wilderness reserve by use of big gates and fences instead of providing access. This section felt designed and built by engineers instead of the intended user group.

A better name for the current trail would be the Sooke Hills Connector Trail - as save for the first part that is what it mainly is. Hopefully it is in the CRD's plans to build secondary hiking trails into the wilderness around the Niagara Main. When this occurs, the potential of what is currently a spine trail would be realized.

Lots of cyclists will use the trail to avoid biking over the Malahat - some will also likely commute over using it.

Time for 13 km to CVRD trail sign 1 hr 35 running (1 hr 25 return). Biking would probably be 45 minutes up and 35 minutes down.

Edited by manuel, 24 June 2017 - 12:44 PM.

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#17 Cassidy

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Posted 24 June 2017 - 09:42 PM

Hopefully it is in the CRD's plans to build secondary hiking trails into the wilderness around the Niagara Main. When this occurs, the potential of what is currently a spine trail would be realized.
 

Great report on the new trail!

 

I think you'll find that most of the land on either side of the new trail is either private property, or watershed buffer lands ... with the trail actually in a very narrow right-of-way that has been specifically held in reserve for the construction of the final bits of the Trans Canada Trail (which is what this new trail is part of).

 

The Niagara Main is a disused logging road, solidly within the watershed lands, and used only by CRD authorized employees and contractors.

 

Beyond the narrow scope of new trail itself, I wouldn't anticipate getting legal access to any of the land off to either side of the trail.

 

Having said that, much of the land to the North of the private Elkington Forest is comprised of old cut blocks, and has long been used by mountain bikers and motorcycle riders. These folks are regularly afoul of B.C. Hydro, private landowners, etc ... but I imagine any cyclist wanting to could find additional logging roads to ride on just off the main trail (if they really wanted to).

 

I don't know why they would though, the noted ugly cut blocks are nasty to look at, let alone recreate in.

 

The Southern portion of the trail, from Humpback to where the trail separates from the Niagara Mainline are probably as good as access is ever going to get (from a scenic point of view)... which isn't too bad as these lands have long been closed off to all but CRD watershed employees, and a few folks who break the law to lay eyes on the old Lubbe power station, or otherwise seek to wander around the Eastern portion of the watershed lands for whatever reason.



#18 Mike K.

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Posted 25 June 2017 - 09:14 AM

Thank you for that!

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#19 Kikadee

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Posted 09 July 2017 - 06:39 AM

This trail is wonderful! Walked from Humpback Reservoir to Sooke Lake Road, just south of Shawnigan Lake, a distance of 22 kms. Took us five hours. Incredible views....

Edited by Kikadee, 09 July 2017 - 06:40 AM.


#20 Mike K.

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Posted 03 March 2020 - 07:56 PM

The CRD will be building a parking lot for the park accessible from Highway 14. Tendering is underway.

 

Screen Shot 2020-03-03 at 7.54.06 PM.png

 

parking-lot.jpg


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