Best winter hikes on Vancouver Island?
September 22, 2016 7:57 AM   Subscribe

I would like to take my girlfriend to Vancouver Island for the New Year. I'm looking for one or two great day hikes on the island that still be doable even if there is snowfall. I imagine a coastal hike is our best bet, and I'm looking for recommendations. Bonus points if you can see a mountain from the hike. Even a big hill.
posted by jeffmshaw to Travel & Transportation around Victoria, BC (3 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I don't recall any mountains, but we went for a Lovely hike on the Amphitrite Lighthouse Trail near Ucluelet. If you're looking for a place to stay, I can also recommend the Terrace Beach Resort that we stayed at, adjacent to the trail. Nothing like coming back to your own private hot tub after a cold hike! We stayed there on the recommendation of a cousin who lives on the island and stayed there for Christmas one year, and weren't at all sad.

That said, every hike we did on the island was great, so you can't really go wrong on that beautiful island.
posted by ldthomps at 9:57 AM on September 22, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Just about any coastal trail on the island will be fine in the winter, since it so rarely snows at lower altitudes. East Sooke Park (about an hour drive from Victoria) is one of my favourites and offers views of the Olympic mountains in Washington State. Any of the trails near Tofino/Ucluelet will be great.

For a longer hikes, the Juan de Fuca Trail (between Sooke and Port Renfrew) is lovely in the winter. Expect parts of the trail to be quite muddy (have good boots and maybe gators) and of course it might rain the whole time (which is beautiful in its own right). You can make that hike longer or shorter (from 1-2 nights to almost a week) since there are a number of accesses to it from the highway. It might also be a good time to hike the West Coast Tail without needing to reserve years in advance (it's officially closed in the winter, but nobody will be checking), if you're into being more remote.
posted by borsboom at 5:49 AM on September 23, 2016 [2 favorites]

Definitely seconding the JDF trail, because sections of that trail are my favourite hikes in all the world. I especially like areas around Chin Beach (not to be confused with China Beach, which is also nice), and Sombrio Beach (which is a little easier to find from the highway). You can make a day hike out of almost any section (though they will all be out-and-backs, unless you bring two cars and do a mini shuttle), and yes, absolutely there will be mud.

East Sooke Park is also lovely. A little less rugged than sections of the JDF, but plenty of great views and vistas and pocket beaches.

If you're feeling adventurous, and don't want coastal walking, you can attempt to find access to the semi-secret (but known to locals) Khludak Trail, which follows the JDF ridge. It has enough elevation that I've been on the trail and found snow in June (rare for the island), and is a nifty little trail system

The areas around Mt Wells park and Finlayson Arm (near Langford-ish) have some nice hilly trails with good view payoff at the top (and is chock full of geocaches, if that's your thang).
Sooke Potholes park also has some nice and essentially unused (other than by my father, and me when I'm visiting) hilly trails, and some interesting old rail features (and a giant old water pipe you can walk many miles along, if you desire).

Up island, and for real mountains, you'll want to check out what Strathcona Park has to offer. The trail to Baby Bedwell and Bedwell Lakes is fantastic, but snow will be a factor. The Elk Ridge (I think that's what they call it?) trail is also nice, and generally less snowy, if Bedwell is impassable higher up.

Mt Aerosmith near Nanaimo is popular, but Ive only done it once, and don't have vivid memories of it...
posted by Dorinda at 8:10 AM on September 23, 2016 [1 favorite]

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