Everyone wants a nice place to walk near a vacation home they have rented for the weekend. If you have a dog, a hike can turn your holiday into a real adventure. Pet friendly Andover Cottage is a short drive away from three terrific trails; Aylard Farm, Anderson Cove, and Iron Mine Bay. Last weekend, we hiked the Iron Mine Bay trail. Below, you will find directions to these three trails from an easily found starting point in East Sooke — the intersection of Gillespie and East Sooke Roads.

Directions to the Iron Mine Bay trail: Go right from Gillespie Rd onto East Sooke Rd and pass Bill’s store. Drive for about 10 minutes until you come to Pike Rd. The sign for Pike Rd is on the left and it is small, so begin watching for it after you pass Eliza Pt Rd. Turn left on Pike Rd. Shortly, you will come to a parking lot.

After you leave your car, follow the signs for Iron Mine Bay. The walk takes you through a forest of maple, douglas fir, and cedar that stretch to impossible heights competing for sunshine. After about 20 minutes of walking, you will come to the ocean. If you follow the path to the water you will find a perfect little beach in a cove which is Iron Mine Bay. On one side of the bay there is a small island that resembles a fortress. Our kids call this island “Pirate Island”. At low or medium tide you can easily walk onto the island. Be careful as you move on Pirate Island. Avoid the cliffs on the side near the cove. Bring a lunch or a snack with you because you will want to spend some time here. The beach or the island are wonderful sheltered spots.

Anderson Cove Trail Access: On the way to Pike Rd and the Iron Mine Bay trail, you will come to the Anderson Cove trailhead. There is a large sign. The trail at Anderson Cove goes over the mountain to join the Iron Mine Bay trail, and the Coast trail. We walked part of this one recently. The trail is steep in places. In spite of the challenging terrain, we wanted to keep going. The opportunities for doing loops or through-hikes here will keep you coming back to this trailhead.
Aylard Farm: Go left onto East Sooke Rd from Gillespie Rd. Travel for 2 kilometres to Becher Bay Rd. Turn right on Becher Bay Rd and follow it to the end. Becher Bay Rd ends at the Aylard farm parking lot. A 5-minute walk will take you to the beach. The beach at Aylard Farm is sandy and sheltered. On bright days, the sun warms the shallow water. People even go in the water at this beach. Aylard Farm is also the point of access for a trail that winds along the shore from Becher Bay to Iron Mine Bay. This is a hike of several hours duration. Do not set out on this walk without plenty of food, water, good hiking boots, proper clothing, etc.