Sea to Sea Regional Park, British Columbia, Canada
Time: 3 1/2 hours
Distance: 10 km (return)
Elevation Gain: 478 m
How To Get There: FollowHwy 14 towards Sooke. In Saseenos, turn North on Harbour View and follow to the end.
Spending a week on Vancouver Island meant that I was able to explore some of the thousands of hiking trails BC has to offer. I was fortunate enough to spend that week with my in-laws and I wanted to go on a hike with them that would offer some nice views and good memories. Mount Manuel Quimper seemed like a good place to start!
The journey up to the top of Mount Manuel Quimper begins by starting on Sooke Mountain Trail. The trail itself is wide and well maintained as it gets underway, making it easy to walk or bike.
Large cedars and pink flowers acted as our companion and provided a beautiful backdrop as we moved along. While the elevation gain is by no means extreme the first couple of kilometers, it’s steady enough that it makes the legs work for it.
A moss riddled pipeline snaked itself through the thick brush and it made me wonder how long it had been there.
Not too long into the hike, we came across the first intersection. If we continued straight, we would be able to complete the loop clockwise, which we had read made for an easier ascension on the knees. Knowing we would be coming back out the left trail eventually, we continued forward.
There are many signs posted along the way that shows the trail circuit which makes it easier to navigate. We found it very useful as there ended up being a lot of different turn-offs and smaller trails branching off from our main one.
Finally after moving up the wide trail for about 3 km, we found our own turn-off at Juniper Trail.
The path narrows significantly and begins gaining elevation a little more severely. The pathway went through a lot of terrain changes in a short amount of time. Tree roots that almost resembled snakes began to stick out, providing an extra challenge before smoothing down into a stonier surface. Then we were greeted with brush that was so thick, the early afternoon felt more like dusk.
The trail rolled up and down, but mostly up, and soon the trees were thinning just enough so that we could get a glance at the ocean of green below us.
A large incline faced us as we reached closer to the top with a few switchbacks to “elevate” the work effort.
We reached a final impasse and turned right on Quimper Summit Trail. Our final destination was only 200 m away.
Rock outcrops began popping up, signalling to us that we were almost near the top.
Once we finally reached the summit, we were greeted with a fire lookout and a gorgeous panoramic view of the surrounding area, including the ocean to our southeast.
We took a breather by exploring the inside of the lookout.
It’s not in the best condition, but it’s still stable enough to take a peek inside. The building was built in 1951 and served the Sooke area for several decades. It’s also one of the last remaining structures of its kind on Vancouver Island.
After spending a few moments taking in the view, we continued downwards, passing by an old foundation as we went. A couple of hikers were doing the loop counter clockwise and they told us that this was a trip they took every week!
I was glad we had chosen to do the hike the other way, as going down the loop was hard on the knees and the elevation loss was very severe and bumpy.
There was a lot of interesting landmarks and plant life on the way down.
There were also some varying versions of bridges to cross, some sturdier looking than others!
We took the Quimper Connector trail most of the way down and found ourselves having to move off to the side several times, as this was also a popular place for mountain bikers.
Closer to the bottom of the mountain, the trail began to smooth out a bit more again and provide a reprieved for tired legs.
We crossed a well-structured metal bridge before joining back up with Sooke Mountain Trail. Then it was only a few more kilometers of walking back down the fire road to the parking lot!
While the hike is a bit more strenuous closer to the top then I expected, it’s still a great option for getting a good workout. Vancouver Island isn’t like the Rocky Mountains and so the views don’t come as easily which is what makes Mount Manuel Quimper so wonderful. There are fantastic views and a perfect spot to rest and explore once you reach the summit. I’m very lucky to have such great in-laws who absolutely crushed this hike, no matter how tough the uphill climb got. I had a blast finally getting to hit the trails with both of them!
Great views and memories made? Mission accomplished.