Back in 2013 when Debbie and I were super fit and fast, we started mapping some of the best trails to run on Southern Vancouver Island in a series we called “7 Trails to Run Before You Die, Vancouver Island Edition“. Although we’ve been hiking more than running lately (well, Debbie is still running but I’m taking a break), we still map trails and take photos of our adventures. I’ve been meaning to get this trail up for awhile since we couldn’t find a good route map online. Also, the signage on this trail is awful and wrong, so clearer directions and photos means more people can enjoy the beautiful views at the top!
7) Broom Hill Hike (William Simmons Park -> Panama Rail Trail -> Wieland Trail -> Summit Loop Trail)
Trail name(s): Panama Rail Trail, Wieland Trail, 1.5 km Summit Loop Trail that is actually more like 3 km (signpost of lies!)
Terrain: Forested single-track trail over roots, rocks and moss. Log bridges and stepping stones to cross streams which can be quite deep in the winter. Trail shoes are recommended.
Parking: There are two parking lots you can use to access the trail head. The first is in William Simmons Park right off Otter Point Road, about 7-10 minutes from downtown Sooke. The second is off Bulter Mainline, right near the CRD building. I prefer the first parking lot as Poirier Lake makes a nice backdrop for photos and would be a great spot for a dip in the summer. Parking is free.
Trail access: From the parking lot at William Simmons Park or the parking lot near the CRD building.
Facilities: There’s an outhouse about 100m from the William Simmons Park parking lot, just up the hill by the day-use area. I’m not sure if it’s there in the winter, though.
Distance: About 7.5 km
Time: 2 hours and 20 minutes
Description: Expect twisty, undulating forest terrain; lots of roots, rocks, dense bushes, and muckiness (in the winter); and a few steep climbs. The trail is fairly clear except for the signposts of lies.
Be prepared to potentially get your feet wet in the winter, as there a few stream crossings where you have to maneuver over rocks and logs.
There are two nice vistas – the first one is off the main trail on the right near the summit. This one has a spectacular view of the Olympic Mountains and Sooke Harbour, and has a little wooden swing hanging from a tree. The other vista is about 300 metres away on the main trail. This one also has a great view of the harbour and has a random pile of rocks. Make sure you pick up a stone along your journey to place atop the rock pile!
To get back to the parking lot, just go the same way you came up (there is no loop; again, signposts of lies!)
Trail Rating (out of four stars)
Overall: A hike that has it all! Worth the drive all the way out to Sooke. Give yourself about 3-4 hours for this adventure if you’re coming from Victoria.
The Best Trails to Run Before You Die – Vancouver Island Edition Series:
- Gowlland Todd
- Trestle Run in Goldstream Park
- Thetis Lake to Stewart Mountain
- Mount Quimper in Sooke
- Coast Trail in East Sooke Park
- Mount Doug Park in Saanich
- Matheson Lake
- John Dean Park
My criteria for the best trails to run: Everyone has their own preference when it comes to trails — some like them to be hilly, others don’t. Some prefer roots and rocks, others feel they are too clumsy to navigate that kind of terrain and might prefer flat chip trails. I think we can all collectively agree, though, that the more scenic the trails are, the better.
Terrain: I like single-track trails that have a variety of terrain — moss, rocks, mud, dirt forest floor and roots. But not so mangled that you need to walk to navigate it. It must be about 85% runable.
Elevation: I like hills when running trails. Too many long, flat stretches bore the hell out of me. I like trails that undulate, twist and turn through the forest, then climb up steeply before dropping back down again. Nothing beats running downhill after an epic climb up in my opinion.
Accessibility: As much as I’d love to go on a day trip to run a trail, I don’t usually have time for that on the weekends. If I can get to a trail from my place in Saanich in under an hour, bonus. If there’s free parking, two points. If there are water fountains and a bathroom at the trail head, wicked.
Distance: I usually go by time when running trails, not distance. I like an hour to two hours for a trail run (so anywhere between 6 – 12 km, depending on terrain). Short enough that you don’t need to pack a lot of water or food, but long enough to get a good workout in.
Vistas: I love running to a destination with a lookout or point of interest. The more epic view points along the way, the better.
Scenery: I love running near the ocean, or in a forest with lost of ferns and moss. Anywhere away from civilization, really.
Do you have any suggestions of trails to hike we haven’t explored yet? Le us know in the comment below!