Difficulty: Moderate to difficult. The elevation change near the coast offers an intense cardio workout.
Abandoned mine shafts give the Coppermine trail its name.
The more challenging trails in East Sooke Park offer the most spectacular view points. Coppermine trail is one of those trails. Located in the western half of the park, Coppermine trail leads you along an abandoned mining road, past two old mine shafts and then down to the coast of the Juan de Fuca Strait. The trailhead is only 5 minutes from Madrona Cottage (or 20 minutes from suburban Victoria, BC). The hike takes about 2 hours (round-trip) but you may want to leave yourself extra time to enjoy the coast views.
The Coppermine trail is wide, well-groomed and well maintained. There's a slight elevation gain at the start, as the trail climbs the side of Mt. Maguire (the old iron and copper mine bore underneath this mountain). The trail continues past deep trenches filled with swamp lantern plants which bloom in late April & May. Ahead, you'll come up to an important trail junction between three different paths (down to Anderson Cove, up to the top of Mt. Maguire, or straight ahead to the coast). The path straight ahead is the continuation of the Coppermine trail and flattens out quickly. Signage along the trail is excellent.
As the path rounds a marshy area popular with black-tailed deer, a few muddy patches may be present. A good pair of running shoes are okay for this trail, but hiking boots will give you water protection and better traction. A bit further along, the forest becomes dense and dark as you come up to two open mine shafts in the side of the mountain. These mines were in small-scale production from 1863 to the 1970's before becoming a part of East Sooke Park.
Soon after this point, the trail descends about 400 feet to sea-level. The path narrows, as it winds through meadows, thick brush and along the top of a ravine (Coppermine Creek). At the end, the trail connects with the Coast Trail.
The expansive views of the Juan de Fuca Strait and the Olympic Mountains of Washington State offer great photo opportunities. Sit on the rocky shelf and watch the shipping traffic travel to and from the mainland (Vancouver, BC and Seattle). At low tide, it's possible to walk along the pebble beaches.
Returning along the same path is the hard part! The 400 foot elevation gain makes for a hot and sweaty cardio workout. Little wind gets into the thick forest so cooling breezes are limited. Bring plenty of water and prepare to take a lot of breaks. You might want to freeze a couple of bottles of water for your hike. During the hike, the frozen water will gradually melt to provide you with drinking water while still staying cold.
Remember to bring a flashlight if you think you may still be out near sunset. The lush forests get dark very quickly. Plan your hike so that you're back at your car before sunset.
The wide trail meandering through the rainforest.
Coastal views await at the end of the Coppermine Trail.
There is no parking lot at the entrance to the Coppermine trail, but you can park along the side of a dirt road. The trail head is about 5 minutes away from the cottage.
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