Sunday, 28 October 2012

Bike Ride to Goldstream Park- The Splendour of Nature and Salmon

If you are feeling energetic, why not try a combination bike and hike out to Goldstream Provincial Park?

I always wondered if one could ride out to the park without venturing near the Island Highway, which is notorious for being quite dangerous and accident prone in that area. The answer is yes, one can bike to Goldstream Park through some of the new backroads and trails built recently, and you do not need to ride on the side of the freeway!

Goldstream Park is about 20 km from downtown Victoria. Take the Galloping Goose trail from downtown and then once you hit Atkins Road along the trail, travel along Atkins until you come to Goldstream Avenue. Cross at the intersection, and turn left onto Station Avenue. Cross onto Dunford Avenue and then left onto Leigh Road. This will lead to Langford Lake and the new Ed Nixon trail, which is a flat gravel path.

After this trail, turn onto Hensen Trail which will lead you to West Shore Parkway, then turn left and then right onto Amy Road, and then left onto Sooke Lake Road. Turn right at Ma Millers Pub onto Golden Gate Rd to the Goldstream Campground. At the Camp Gatehouse, turn right and the hiking trails will be at the end of these campsites. You can lock your bike up here, even to a tree will do.

There are many hiking trails in Goldstream Park, but if you are feeling full of energy, give this loop a try. It took me about three and a half hours for this hike, taking my time. From the trailhead, take the Prospector's Trail to the right, and follow this until the trail leads you closer to the highway. I would recommend wearing gum boots for your walk, as to go under the highway, you will have to wade a little into the river to cross under the bridge. The water was not too deep, well below my knee so I did not get too wet. The Prospector's Trail continues on the other side and will lead you to the main part of Goldstream Park.

From the trail, turn left onto Finlayson Arm Road towards the Goldstream River again. The park is beautiful all year, but it is particularly unique in the fall. From late October to December, salmon spawn in the river. Check them out as they fight their way upstream, trying to lay their eggs.

 It is fascinating that these Chum, Coho and Chinook Salmon can navigate back to this same river where they were born after four years out in the vast Pacific Ocean. Yet somehow they find their way back. Salmon also are a huge part of the eco-system of this forest, providing food for eagles, bears, and all sorts of forest creatures, filtering nutrients back into the river system and into the trees themselves through their decomposing carcasses. There were a few dead fish on the side of the river, with many more still to be piling up in the next few weeks. By the end of November, the riverside can be pretty stinky, but then the animals can feast, especially the eagles. Prime eagle watching can be had from December to February in the park because of these very salmon, providing a much needed winter meal for them when other food can be scarce.

River Full Of Fish 
Next check out the estuary and nature house at the end of the Visitor Centre trail.
Now to cross over to the other side of the park, you will have to walk through a tunnel which goes under the freeway again. 

On the other side, first check out Niagara Falls , a beautiful waterfall that is 156 feet high.

Then take the Gold Mine Trail and then Arbutus Ridge Trail back to where you started your hike. 

For your bike ride back, you can go back the same way, or another option is to cycle back the same way until you hit Langford Lake. At City Centre Park, ride onto Glen Lake Road and just before you come to Sooke Road, there is the Galloping Goose Trail, which you can ride all the way back to downtown Victoria. 

Goldstream Park, a rainforest right in the city limits. Check out this jewel of a place, a perfect spot for a daytrip and bike ride. 

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