From Sidney to Sooke

Beer-cycling in Greater Victoria

The Greater Victoria region has some of the best cycling infrastructure around—to go along with one of B.C.’s most dynamic craft beer communities. Whether you’re a seasoned cyclist who owns several pairs of padded Lycra shorts or if you just like to get out for some light exercise in the fresh air from time to time, there are many different routes to try out.

Two trail systems are at the heart of Victoria’s excellent cycling network, the Galloping Goose and Lochside regional trails. These well-maintained trails—part of the Trans-Canada Trail system—extend from Swartz Bay at the top of the Saanich Peninsula into downtown Victoria, and then west to Sooke, covering 88 kilometres and mostly running through beautiful West Coast scenery. Both trails were built along former railway lines, which means they are generally quite flat.

The Goose connects to Victoria’s urban cycling matrix at the Johnson Street Bridge downtown, a convenient starting or finishing point considering the plethora of nearby craft beer options.

A flight on the picnic patio at Bad Dog Brewing in Sooke. Joe Wiebe photo

E&N Connector

The Kimta E&N Cycling Connector is a spur line that extends west from downtown, passing right by Spinnakers (Canada’s original brewpub dating back to 1984), before it crosses diagonally through the heart of Esquimalt, until it meets up with the Galloping Goose near the Trans-Canada Highway. Cycling the 19km loop around the E&N and the Goose is one of my favourite routes, both because of the wide range of urban artwork (graffiti, murals, and other random artistic pieces people have placed along the trail) and also because Driftwood Brewery, Lighthouse Brewing, and the Four Mile Brewpub are convenient stops along the way.

A Slow Pour Neverending Pilsner at Small Gods Brewing in Sidney. Joe Wiebe photo

Lochside Trail

This trail, which runs up the Saanich Peninsula all the way to Swartz Bay Ferry Terminal, offers several great options. The easiest is the 50km round trip to Category 12 Brewing, located about halfway up the Saanich Peninsula. C12’s tasting room has an excellent kitchen, so plan to stay for lunch. You can double back the way you came or if you want some minor hill training and don’t mind sharing the road with cars, take Oldfield Road/West Saanich Road back into the city for some variety. You can also stop at Twa Dogs Brewery just north of Victoria if you want a refreshment break on the way home.

Riding up to Sidney (60km round trip) is well worth the extra effort thanks to the recent arrival of two breweries, Beacon Brewing and Small Gods Brewing, which are located almost right next to each other. Both offer great beer and food. Small Gods has a very nice patio so it tends to win out with my cycling group—riding there for a slow pour Pilsner has become a bit of a tradition for us.

Victoria’s International Airport has a 10km trail around it called the Flight Path, which is also fun to ride and, up until recently, there was a beer stop at Howl Brewing right across from the path. At press time Howl was still in the process of moving to a new location in Esquimalt, so check before you head in that direction in search of beer.

Sturdier cyclists seeking more mileage can undertake a 100km “century ride” around the peninsula, building in stops at any of the breweries I’ve mentioned above. Road warriors should note the Lochside Trail network also connects with Swartz Bay Ferry Terminal if you want to ride all the way to Victoria from the Lower Mainland.

Sampling the brews at Mile Zero Brewing in Metchosin. Joe Wiebe photos

Galloping Goose

This amazing trail system, which opened in 1987, is named after a motored railway car that once carried mail and up to 30 passengers between Sooke and Victoria twice daily during the 1920s. Cyclists can ride west out of Victoria through the municipalities of View Royal, Langford, Colwood, and Metchosin before arriving in picturesque Sooke.

The Goose offers options for riders of all abilities. I consider the Metchosin Loop a great 50-55km ride. Follow the Goose out to Rocky Point Road and stop at Mile Zero Brewing before returning to Victoria on Metchosin Road. The return trip will take you through the massive Royal Bay waterfront development and then past Royal Roads University. A side trip down to the Esquimalt Lagoon (a screaming fast downhill) will provide a glimpse of Hatley Castle.

Easily the best bike ride for beer in Greater Victoria is the Sooke Run. While the busy single-lane highway to Sooke is about 40km by car, the Galloping Goose’s meandering, scenic bike route is closer to 50km. After Metchosin, the trail runs through quiet forests with stretches showcasing gorgeous views of Matheson Lake (great for swimming) and Roche Cove, a saltwater inlet, which connects to the Sooke Harbour.

Entering Sooke, the trail crosses the highway and eventually winds its way several kilometres north of the town, visiting Sooke Potholes Regional Park (more great swimming plus camping options) before ending near an abandoned mining town called Leechtown, which is located on regional water authority land with restricted access. The ride to the end of the trail is still worth it thanks to a beautifully restored trestle bridge and some trailside historic installations, including a restored train station.

Sooke Brewing is a great destination for avid cyclists. Joe Wiebe photo

I have enjoyed weekend getaways to Sooke several times with my cycling buddies and we’ve found lots of options for overnight accommodation, including hotels, Airbnb stays, and camping. Upon arrival, cyclists can replenish their electrolytes with some “Belgian Gatorade” at Sooke Oceanside Brewery, just off the main road as you ride into town, or at Sooke Brewing, located right in the heart of the village, with a food truck conveniently parked behind it. Sooke’s third brewery, Bad Dog Brewing, is tucked away in the woods above the town centre so I recommend saving it for the second day of your visit. Bad Dog is a rewarding destination after a bit of a hill climb from sea level with a comfortable picnic space and delicious food options, courtesy of its own Hot Diggity Dog food trailer. Combine Bad Dog with a visit to Tugwell Creek Meadery and Sheringham Distillery for a fun loop ride around Sooke that features a unique trio of alcoholic beverage stops.

I feel extremely lucky to have so many cycling options available to me in and around Victoria. When combined with Vancouver Island’s rather pleasant weather, I’m able to be an avid year-round cyclist. See you on the trails!

Tour de Victoria

Another good excuse to visit Victoria is Ryder Hesjedal’s Tour de Victoria, an annual event that takes place Aug. 17, 2024. There are eight different routes for riders of all abilities and it’s the one day each year when you can ride on certain streets without any vehicles.



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