Not every bike ride has to have a boozy reward at the end… but you have to admit, it’s nice when it does! Cycling the Lochside Trail to Sea Cider is probably my favourite bike ride close to Victoria. It’s flat, the changing scenery is interesting, and… you already know it… cider! Delicious, local, organically-grown, refreshing cider.
Start at: the beginning of the Lochside Trail, at the Switch Bridge by Uptown Mall. You can also make your way to Borden and McKenzie, and hop on the trail there (follow the bike path north on Borden, towards Lochside Drive). From the start of the Lochside Trail at the Switch Bridge, this bike ride is about 38 km roundtrip, or just over an hour each way, depending on your speed.
What will you see along the way? The Lochside Trail will quickly have you feeling like you’re far from the city; soon after you cross McKenzie, you’ll start to pass farms! Depending on the time of year, many of them will have stands along the trail, so be sure to bring some cash and leave room in your saddle bags (or belly). You’ll meader along Lochside Drive through the upscale Cordova Bay neighbourhood, where you can check out the plants on landscaped lawns, and where gaps between homes give you glimpses of the ocean and mainland mountains.
Mattick’s Farm, about a half hour in and with plenty of shops, a Red Barn market, and a small restaurant, is a great place for a lunch break.
At times the path is peacefully tree-lined, and at others it’ll open up again as you ride between wide open farm fields. Keep an eye out for a couple of pigs, just past the model airpark (VRCMS Flying Field), and keep in mind that you may share the trail with riders on horseback from nearby stables and riding schools! (Also, keep an eye out for horse “manure” along the trail!)
Eventually, you’ll cycle along the Patricia Bay Highway for a short time (still on a bike path separated from the highway), and will eventually need to cross over the highway at Mt. Newton Crossroad (i.e. the Macdonald’s) to Central Saanich Road, and eventually down the hill on Mt. St. Michael Rd. (to a gravelly uphill into the cidery parking lot). Just follow the map, and once you get close, you can follow signs to Sea Cider.
Destination: Sea Cider. Read all about Sea Cider Farm and Cidery on their website: ” Our ten-acre farm is home to over 1,300 apple trees, made up of over 50 varieties of heritage apples. … We continue to pride ourselves on crafting traditionally fermented ciders from organically grown apples. … Relax at our cider house, and drink in the panoramic water views overlooking our orchard across the Haro Straight to James Island. ”
We visited in late May 2020, when they had just re-opened after a COVID closure, and one of the protocols in place was that a reservation was required to dine/drink in. They are also offering a selection of picnics for takeaway, with local catering partners! Check their Facebook page for current updates.
I definitely recommend getting a flight!
Want to extend your trip? If you still have energy/feeling in your legs, you may want to keep riding up to the quaint town of Sidney, close to the ferry terminal at Swartz Bay (which can also be reached by bike for trips further afield, like Vancouver or the Gulf Islands). Another side trip option is Island View Beach, which would have you veer off the trail towards the water roughly around Michell’s Farm Market.
Details: how long, how far, how much will my bum hurt? If you’re a normal human, your bum will probably hurt a lot! That said, compared to most bike rides in and around Victoria, this trail is pretty much FLAT! From the start of the Lochside Trail at the Switch Bridge, this bike ride is about 38 km roundtrip, or just over an hour each way, depending on your speed. Remember to bring a full water bottle, as fountains along the way may be closed.
You can download a CRD Bike Map here, or pick one up at most tourism-related businesses.