We were still a little sleepy when we rolled off the ferry, so we stopped for coffee and breakfast goodies at the Sturdies Bay Bakery and Cafe – they are just seconds from the ferry terminal, and their massive, famous cinnamon buns are delicious!
The first item on our gay agenda was to check out the Instafamous sand caves, but there was a sign by the road that leads out to them saying that they were closed. I assume this is to reduce crowds during COVID-19; we thought about trying to venture further, but decided not to be those jerks. It said it was closed, so that was that.
We kept driving to check out Lovers Leap Viewpoint in Bodega Ridge Provincial Park, which offers a nice view of nearby islands. It may not be worth the drive out just for the viewpoint (it’s small, and similar to the kind of views you get all over the Gulf Islands), but it’s pretty if you’re already heading out that way to do some hiking. We also made a quick stop at Tapovan Sri Chimnoy Peace Park, a set of forest hiking trails dedicated to an Indian spiritual leader and meditation teacher. We quickly discovered it was a bit of a climb, and since I hadn’t changed out of my Birkenstocks (#classiclesbian), we headed back to the car and decided to continue on our day’s true quest: the search for the perfect hammock spot.
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 48 km roundtrip, or just under an hour and a half 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!)
After passing Michell’s Farm, the trail follows the highway for a bit, and eventually back past gorgeous ocean view homes, and ocean views themselves! As you approach Sidney, you’ll be biking along the sea; obviously it’s a super nice ride!
Destination: Sidney ‘By the Sea’, BC. Sidney is a town with a population of close to 12000, and a median age of 60. Maybe not the place to go for a wild night out, but a great spot for a day trip! There are lots of shops and restaurants. It’s especially known for its bookstores; there are 6 of them, which has given Sidney its ‘booktown’ nickname! Also known as ‘Sidney by the Sea’, it’s the right place to go for a stroll along the Waterfront Walkway, check out the Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea (a non profit aquarium), pick up some fresh fish at Satellite Fish Co. market, or eat some that’s already been cooked at one of the waterfront restaurants.
The Sidney Bakery is really well-known and for good reason. It happened to be closed the day I visited, so I got to try some delicious squares at Quince Bakery instead! You can’t go too wrong with baked good, IMO 😉 Thirsty? Grab a drink at Victoria Distillers!
Want to extend your trip? If you still have energy/feeling in your legs, you may want to stop at Sea Cider Farm and Ciderhouse or Island View Beach along the way keep, or keep riding to the ferry terminal at Swartz Bay for trips further afield, like Vancouver or the Gulf Islands.
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 48 km roundtrip, or about an hour and a half 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.