Biking the Lochside and Galloping Goose Trails

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TLDR: We rode 150 miles in three days on a mixture of dedicated trails and shared roads, some paved, some packed gravel. We camped three nights along the way and can recommend these campgrounds [Sooke River Campground + Smonecten Provincial Park + Sooke Potholes Campground]. We loved the food at India Delight Bistro and Bar in Sooke. We wish we had spent more time at the Sooke Potholes and next time we’re going to be sure Google Maps has actually routed us on the trail! Vancouver Island is gorgeous.

I think it’s every cyclist’s dream to find a network of connected trails, away from traffic, paved or at least packed gravel, offering gorgeous scenery and fresh air, paired with a sense of tranquility.

My husband would qualify in that category of cyclists.

Bikepacking and I are still dating, not yet in a committed relationship. I do like the wind in my face and the medium pace, faster than walking, slower than something with a motor. But, of course, that pace involves a certain amount of effort and human-powered forward momentum.

I love the feeling that whatever I eat after riding I totally deserve and it will be immediately converted into energy, not fat. But a long, hard ride definitely makes me tired!

Riding from one end of the Lochside Trail to the other end of the Galloping Goose trail falls in the category of Long, Hard Ride. But you can spread it out over multiple days!! We decided to try riding the two trails, out and back, in three days. Of course, we bopped into town several times, adding mileage to the total, putting us at around 150 miles for this grand biking adventure.

When the Galloping Goose trail opens up to an ocean view, you stop and gaze in wonder.

Don’t know how to go bike-packing, but want to learn? First step: put everything you will need for your adventure into some sleek and convenient bike bags that will fit on your favorite bike [make sure your tires can handle whatever surface you plan to ride on]. We packed our lightweight tent from REI, two inflatable sleeping mats, two fifty degree sleeping bags, water, snacks, battery packs, and an assortment of other important things. We ate most of our meals at grocery stores or restaurants, so we didn’t need to carry much food with us.

Step two [if you want to ride on an island]: ride from the safe place you found to park your car over to the ferry terminal and jump on the ferry! This is fun because you get to board the ferry first as well as exit first and I don’t think you’ll need to worry about the ferry being too full for walking or biking passengers to get on. The ferry ride from Tsawwassen to Swartz Bay is gorgeous and might even double as a whale-watching tour if you’re lucky!

Vancouver Island ferry
It’s easy to walk on the ferry and travel from Tsawwassen to Swartz Bay!

Step three is simply to know where you’re going once you disembark. Google Maps has revolutionized my life [yours too?] with its biking/walking/transit/rideshare directions. I LOVE it so much. I don’t know how we survived in the land of MapQuest…

The Lochside Trail DOES have you riding on roads with cars for a significant chunk of time, but these are side roads, not very busy at all, and you’ll have many other two-wheeled companions along the way. We stopped in Sidney for bananas, muffins, and yogurt drinks before zooming off to Victoria [bop #1]. After singing “Oh Canada” with the off-pitch crowds, and grabbing a vegeburger and a smoothie at some food trucks, we continued onto the Galloping Goose trail [much less time on roads and such pretty forested trails].

Celebrating Canada Day on the lawn in front of the Victoria parliament buildings is pretty neat!

This is where Google Maps did us kinda wrong. When we navigated to our campground in Sooke, we thought the little blue line had us following the trail the whole way [because we had selected the option to travel by bicycle]. Right, Google? You know what we’re doing! You can see us here on our saddles! Well, if we had investigated the matter MUCH more closely [too much trouble], we would have seen that The Google had us taking the most direct route, which wasn’t on the trail the whole way. So, what we thought was going to be about 20 more miles turned into more like 30. Aaah!

How many miles do YOU think is enough in one day? [comment below!]

We pulled into camp with very little left in the tank. And the trouble with bike-packing is that, unless you decide to use a service like Uber Eats, you will need to get back on your bike to go find sustenance. Which is what we did. Sooke has a really yummy little Indian place with a splendid mango lassi [my favorite]. We also ordered the garlic naan, coconut rice, and aloo gobi. YUM.

Coconut rice, aloo gobi, garlic naan, and mango lassi [not pictured because it was gone quickly].
You can have a patch of grass at Sooke River Campground, or a site with trees if you plan ahead!

We had planned to spend our second night at the Sooke Potholes Campground, just 11 miles or so up the trail, but then we realized that would make day three mileage unmanageable [more than 60 miles]. These are good things to know, right?! I think if I had been riding my road bike, I could have put in the miles more comfortably. It’s still tricky to know just how much food is needed to maintain one’s energy as well. Lots to learn, but we’re still dating, right? 😉

So we did a quick recalibrate, spent less time at the potholes than I originally had wanted, and scurried all the way back to Victoria on day two. Day three would have been a quick 20 miler back to Swartz Bay, except that little miss Laura wanted to go to Fisherman’s Wharf and NoodleBox and explore the beach on the east side of the island, so day three ended up being almost 50 miles too!

We had a hiker/biker campsite reserved at Smonecten, and we were ready to bed down pretty early that night. The more observant reader will notice that I have left out camping details from night two. It wasn’t worth talking about!

Smonecten Campground has hiker/biker sites that are reservable. There are pit toilets nearby.

What do I wish we had done differently? I think turning this into a four night getaway with 35 mile days would have been BETTER. The trick to that is finding campsites/accommodation in all the right places. I also really wish we had spent the night at Sooke Potholes Campground and explored more of the beaches along the river. We rushed through there and missed all kinds of beauty, I think.

We were brave enough to jump into the river from a very cool rock, but we didn’t swim for long!

So, now you can learn from our mistakes and plan your own best bikepacking adventure on Vancouver Island!! Look for the Thrifty grocery stores [love them] and definitely take a side trip into Victoria. My favorite thing downtown was the dancing water taxi show, but they don’t do that everyday, so do your research!

These talented taxi drivers are able to choreograph their boat movements to music!

Cheers to bikepacking and excellent trails on Vancouver Island! Be sure to watch our funny film about this adventure on YouTube!


One response to “Biking the Lochside and Galloping Goose Trails”

  1. Peter Avatar

    Wow! That looked like fun! Great job on your first post!

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Hi, I’m Laura

I’m based in Washington State and will definitely be showcasing local destinations, but this girl loves to fly all over the world!! If you love adventures and frugal travel, stick with me!

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