It’s difficult to imagine that much of Vancouver Island was covered in a thick layer of glacial ice just 15,000 years ago, but Sooke Potholes Regional Park is evidence of just that. As the ice moved across the landscape it carved a deep canyon into the bedrock that later became the Sooke River. Over time, large boulders were pushed by the torrential waters, lodging themselves in the canyon where they carved and polished unique holes into the rock.
Today these rock pools are the site of Sooke Potholes Regional Park, which features fantastic swimming holes, waterfalls, hiking trails, a campground, and several picnic areas. There are several parking lots along the river, with a variety of trails down to the water, which is clean, clear, and a perfect temperature for cooling off on a hot summer day. Visitors should be very careful while exploring the canyon areas, as the rocks can be quite slippery, and the river has claimed more than a few lives over the years. The main hiking trail follows the riverside for approximately 3 kilometers, and along the way visitors are able to visit different swimming holes that aren’t immediately accessible by car. The trail eventually connects with the Galloping Goose Trail, a 55-kilometer stretch of hiking and biking trail between Victoria and Leechtown.
In addition to its fantastic swimming, hiking, and camping, Sooke Potholes Regional Park is a great spot for wildlife viewing. The river and surrounding areas are home to a wide variety of wildlife including otters, bears, elk, and various bird species, as well as being an important spawning stream for Chinook and coho salmon in the fall.