If you want to a beach day with an active twist, cycling out to Island View is a great option!
For the most part, it’s a flat ride, following the same route that you would take to Sea Cider, or to Sidney. Save your energy though, because the last 10 minutes are a bit of a struggle over a big hill!
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 34 km roundtrip, or about 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 meander 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!)
Once you get to Michell’s Farm Market, turn right at Island View Road. You’ll pass a few more farms (I passed a field full of sheep!), and once you start climbing the hill, remind yourself that you’re almost there! Enjoy the view of agricultural Central Saanich as you huff and puff, and then enjoy the well-earned, longggg downhill slide into the Island View parking lot!
Destination: Island View Beach Regional Park. I was happily surprised to see how expansive this beach was! There’s lots of space to spread out (distance!), great views of some smaller Gulf Islands, San Juan Island and Mt. Baker further away, and lots of rocks and driftwood to explore when beach-combing. There’s a network of walking trails running alongside the beach, and it’s an excellent spot for birdwatching, being home to both migratory and resident species. Bring your binos!
Island View also has a campground and RV park – we have friends who go bike camping there, and I think it would be an ideal place to try it out, since it’s not far from Victoria and – except for the last little bit! – it’s pretty flat. This year, camping is reservations only (usually there are some first-come, first-served sites).
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 Sea Cider Farm and Ciderhouse, if you want a boozy reward for your ride!
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, minus the hill at the end, this trail is pretty much FLAT! From the start of the Lochside Trail at the Switch Bridge, this bike ride is about 34 km roundtrip, or about 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.
Happy beach-ing !