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September 2017

Top 5 outdoor activities around Victoria

Victoria is the provincial Capital of British Columbia but it is home to so much more. Located at the south end of Vancouver Island, Victoria is surrounded by ocean, trails, rivers, and forest. There is plenty to do for adventurers of all levels and interests. And, Victoria has a very hospitable climate so you can do most activities all year long! Here are just a few suggestions:

Hiking the many fantastic local parks

[caption id="attachment_1063" align="aligncenter" width="1200"] Sooke from the Escarpment - Photo: Karsten Klawitter[/caption]

From the beautiful Mediterranean seascapes of East Sooke Park, to the multi-day adventures of the primordial Juan de Fuca and West Coast Trails, the Capital Regional District has no shortage of adventures big and small to satisfy hikers of any and all levels of skill and enthusiasm. From our shop, one can take a bus to many large parks and get lost in the rainforest well within the city, or venture a mere hour further and be out on the Wild West Coast swinging on a rope swing beside a waterfall as the open pacific meets Vancouver Island sandy beaches. It is one of the main reasons we live here, and we take pride in the unlimited adventures our beautiful coastline offers us. Some staff favourites include: East Sooke Park’s Coat Trail, Mystic Beach, and Gowland Tod Provincial Park. We all like to get out as much as possible, and are a wealth of information when it comes to the local trail networks, come ask us about our favourite spots!

Mountain Biking

[caption id="attachment_1065" align="aligncenter" width="1200"] Great view points from among the iconic Arbutus trees | Photo: Karsten Klawitter[/caption]

Southern Vancouver Island is experiencing a bit of a golden age in mountain biking. With new trails popping up, and land use agreements coming into play with a plan for many more in the future, this growing sport is thriving in the Victoria era. A visit to Hartland on a weekday evening will bring you to a full parking lot of riders getting out for their after work laps. Not even winter stops us in Victoria, it is likely that many people have listened to us Island folk brag about riding bikes all winter long. SIMBS has done an amazing job taking stewardship in our parks, hosting monthly train maintenance days to build new trails, and rejuvenate old ones. Rainforest singletrack can take you from Saanich to Langford, and eventually all the way to Sooke! Many bike clubs make it easy to find someone to ride with, and a quick parking lot chat with the locals on a busy weekend will usually yield someone willing to show you around. We love mountain biking here, in all its varied shapes and sizes.

Cycle Touring

[caption id="attachment_1068" align="aligncenter" width="1200"] Cycling the Galloping Goose Regional Trail[/caption]

Victoria prides itself on being the Cycling Capital of Canada. The Lochside Regional Trail and the Galloping Goose Regional Trail take you from the Swartz Bay ferry to downtown, and then all the way to the Sooke potholes. Many connecting trails take you to all points in between. Victoria is a gloriously bikable city, and our climate makes it possible to ride all year long. The easy ride to the ferry makes for an easy hop over to the many Gulf Island’s, land of many campsites, small towns, easy countryside riding, farmers markets, and quaint B&B’s. A Gulf Islands bike tour is an absolute must for any cyclist visiting the region.


[caption id="attachment_1070" align="aligncenter" width="1200"] Kayaking around the islands is magical! | Photo: Todd Avison[/caption]

It would not be fair to write a top 5 post about Victoria and not include watersports. Victoria may love it’s paddling more than it likes bicycles. From our big picture window over the Gorge Waterway, we see endless streams of Kayakers, Rowers, Stand Up Paddleboarders, and Dragonboaters make their way across the water throughout the day. To say paddling is huge in Victoria would be an understatement. We have some beautiful waterways to explore as well! From paddling the sheltered Gorge Waterway, to making a crossing to Chatham and Discovery islands, to multi-day trips paddling the Gulf Islands, the south island is truly a world class paddling destination. We recently organized a quick staff outing to Portland Island, in Gulf Islands National Park Reserve. We managed to get out after close on a Sunday, and return to open on a Monday! Being surrounded by water, the most difficult decision is deciding which incredible place to visit!

Whale Watching

[caption id="attachment_1061" align="aligncenter" width="1200"] While whale watching around Victoria you will see orcas, humpbacks, harbour porpoise and more![/caption]

Anyone who has walked around Victoria for more than 10 minutes has likely seen a sign advertising a whale watching tour. It remains one of the most popular things to do in the city. One can take boats of all shapes and sizes, and head out with any of the many companies operating in the south island. Experienced captains and naturalists will show you some of the incredible sea life in our waters, and you will likely see Humpback and Killer Whales while you are out there! At the same time, you get a great tour of the coastline as seen from out on the water. I tend to recommend heading out on a zodiac. The boats are smaller, and rougher, but seeing these creatures from the waterline is an experience to behold!

Author: Karsten Klawitter who is one of the many enthusiastic people who work at the local Valhalla Pure Outfitters in Downtown Victoria. Follow his adventures on Instagram and be sure to check out his photography on Flickr

Stop by for a visit, check out our gear and get some first hand locals knowledge. We are located at 1824 Store Street, Victoria, BC, V8T4R4