About the Galloping Goose Trail
The Galloping Goose Trail is a favorite park among the locals of southern Vancouver Island, where the trail weaves its way through the communities of Victoria, Colwood, Langford, Metchosin, and finally to Sooke. The trail passes through all types of classic British Columbian terrain; coniferous forests merge to streams, rivers, and lakes as you walk, cycle, or horseback ride the trail. The trail passes close to beaches, above roaring rivers, and around prestine lakes.
Follow the Trail from Victoria to Leechtown
The first body of water that you pass in the west is Matheson Lake. Great for swimming on a summer day, this freshwater lake is situated in East Sooke. Go further west, towards Sooke, and circle part of the Sooke Basin, where picture perfect views entice you to stop and take a break to enjoy the beauty of Sooke. Benches along the way are dedicated to those people who loved the Sooke area, and provide nice break points in your travels of the trail.
The next ten kilometers of trail take you through the coniferous forests of Sooke, after which you emerge alongside the salmon-bearing Sooke River. Here are the famous Sooke Potholes where the locals go swimming in the hottest days of summer. After a good bike ride, you’ll want to cool off; here is your chance! Be warned: the further up the river you go to swim, the farther away from other people and the colder the water gets.
The parallel track of the Galloping Goose Trail and the Sooke River stretch the rest of the way to the abandoned mining village of Leechtown, where you can admire the tranquility and quiet of the woods. Advisement: As this area is very far from the public, do not go alone; it is best to visit this section of the trail with others.
History of the Galloping Goose Trail
The Galloping Goose Trail was once a railway line from Victoria to Leechtown, where gold had been discovered in the river during the gold rush days. The train’s first run in 1922 featured the noisy train car #15813, from which the name of the trail comes. It twice daily carried 30 passengers and offered mail delivery. At that time, Leechtown grew to a larger population than Victoria, but soon declined after the goldrush ended. The train for a short 9 years afterward, but with a deserted town as a destination it did not take long for the rail line to be closed.
Now, Leechtown is simply the site of the abandoned mining town; nothing remains, not even structures. The forest has grown in and grown over anything that once was the goldrush Leechtown. The rails were removed from the route around 10 years ago, becoming part of a Rails to Trails program in the province of British Columbia. The Galloping Goose Trail is also a part of the BC Trans Canada Trail system being constructed as an eco-adventure.