Autumn on the Lochside Trail

by Raymond Parker on October 30, 2008

in Adventure, Cycling, Touring


On a sunny day in October, that’s the colour that stands out on the evergreen west coast of British Columbia. As bigleaf maples (acer macrophyllum) get ready to undress, Lindsay Martin, Patrick Wright and I ride our bicycles through a tunnel of gold.

While the west is not renowned for its fall colours, like Ontario, the Maritimes or the eastern states of the US, the brief display of deciduous splendour is magnificent in its own right—especially knowing that late October here is guaranteed to usher in the dreaded monsoons of winter!

And so, as another day dawned clear, I fielded a call from Patrick, made another to Lindsay, and, by 11:30am, we were setting out into a cool but brilliant day.

As time was limited, we opted for the generally flat route afforded by the Galloping Goose/Lochside Regional Trail system, beginning in B.C.’s balmy capital of Victoria, the city boasting the most temperate of B.C.’s temperate climate.

Click to enlarge

The trail follows the rail bed of a train line once linking Victoria with Leechtown, near Sooke. Like most roads and railways in this part of the world, construction of the line was spurred by the discovery of gold. The route name honours noisy old car #15813, which had its first run in 1922. Today, the multi-use, 55 kilometre trail affords a quiet escape from busy roads for weekend recreational users and a practical daily route for hundreds of bicycle commuters. It’s a real treasure.

At kilometre 5.5, we will bear right on the Lochside Trail, another 35 kilometres of reclaimed railway, north to the Saanich Peninsula. We are soon cruising shady, tree-lined paths, punctuated by wooden trestles and occasional vistas of lake, field and hill—all dressed up in Halloween’s signature shade. I mean the landscape here, of course, but I notice that my mates have donned their fall colours, as well.

Further out on the Peninsula—toward Sidney—we pass fields of families foraging for that other emblem of the season: the plump, orange pumpkin.

Near the 25 kilometre point, we turned west, crossed the Pat Bay Highway (#17) and climbed gently up McTavish, to the junction of East Saanich Road. Another easy ascent and we launched ourselves back toward the ocean, on Lowe Road. We then turned south, along Central Saanich Road. At Island View Road, we zoomed down to rejoin the Lochside Trail and rode back into town by 2pm. Another Sensible Sunday Ride.

Sixty kilometres of sunny riding, away from traffic and urban noise; good friends, a good bicycle. What more could one ask for?

Click to enlarge
Trail System:

Lochside/Goose | Follow the route (Bikely)

Web Resources:

Capital Regional District: Galloping Goose TrailLochside Trail

Along the Way:

Selkirk Station Rentals | Galey Farms | Mattick’s Farm | Heritage Acres

{ 2 comments… read them below or add your spin! }

Richard Edge October 29, 2011 at 12:19 pm

That looks like a great ride. I still have fresh memories of my recent short ride on the Lochside/Galloping Goose trails. I can only imagine what it is like with the fall colours, but your photo helps. I’m off work for a bit so I hope to go out on a local ride or to to enjoy some of that colour around here.


Raymond Parker October 30, 2011 at 12:56 pm

Richard: The Goose/Lochside Trail system really is a gem. I especially like it at this time of year, and in the spring, when all the fresh foliage bursts out and the birds are singing in the hedges.

The one downside during winter is the compacted aggregate surface on the outer reaches of both trails. It is as firm as pavement when dry (albeit dusty), but as soon as the rains come, it throws up a nice “grinding paste” that plays havoc with drive-trains and other moving parts.

Regular users should pay particular attention to cleaning and lubing their bikes in all seasons.

Of course, it would be nice if the trails were cleared of snow when we get a dump of the white stuff. Alas, we’re not as civilized as Copenhagen, yet.


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