Stroll through tranquil farmland and soak in a cliff-top view of the Juan de Fuca strait on one of Metchosin's lesser known walks.
Sea Bluff Trail, a one kilometre loop that straddles two farm properties, provides scenic viewpoints complete with grazing sheep. Much of the trail is on oceanfront property, as the name suggests.
The trail was opened to the public by Geoffrey Harris Mitchell, an outdoor enthusiast who founded Sea Bluff Farm in the 1950s. Mitchell's descendants, including his four children, live in the area, keeping farm operations in the family.
Bob Mitchell said he walked the trail hundreds of times with his father - who is commemorated with a plaque at the trail's first scenic stop. "There was no real thought to improvement," Mitchell said of the trail. "It exists."
Raised in England, his father was used to the idea of footpaths on private property, Mitchell said, which influenced the decision to open the trail to the public.
In the late 1980s, a section of the trail was donated to the Metchosin municipality.
At the first viewpoint, the Haystock Islets are visible from a wooden bench overlooking the water, faraway rocky islands amid a vast landscape.
"It's quiet - it's a gorgeous place to live," said Mitchell, who has operated Sea Bluff Farm since 1982.
Farther along the bluff, there's a second viewpoint where the Olympic Mountains are visible on a clear day. A picnic bench in a grove enclosed by trees offers a stop for lunch.
Each season yields a different experience on Sea Bluff Trail. In March, lambs roam around the trail, to the delight of children. Mud becomes an issue in the winter, though. At the end of the trail, the path narrows beneath Douglas fir trees and red cedars and often becomes boggy with rain.
Commemorative plaques along the trail honour Metchosin residents. At the second viewpoint, there's a plaque commemorating equestrian Sonja Young.
"She was a strong moving factor in creating local trails," Mitchell said.
To find Sea Bluff Trail, take Metchosin Road to Wootton Road - there's an exit sign for Sea Bluff Farm. The trail's start is marked on a metal gate, next to a stall that sells seasonal vegetables and plant starters, owned by neighbouring Metchosin Farm. The path is welltrodden by people and horses, so it's next to impossible to get lost. Just remember to close the gate at each turn - there are four - so sheep don't escape. Dogs have to be kept on a leash. Because the trail runs through farmland, wear appropriate shoes and watch out for sheep droppings. Since the trail runs through working farms, don't expect to find public amenities, including washrooms.
SEA BLUFF TRAIL FAST FACTS
Difficulty rating: 1 (a casual stroll that's not at all strenuous; suitable for all skill sets and ages)
Highlights: Two spectacular views of the Juan de Fuca Strait, with a picnic bench where you can eat lunch in a tranquil setting.
Time: 15 minutes to walk the trail at a slow pace, but take the time to sit and look at the scenery.
Facilities: None; dogs must be kept on leash
Location: 565 Wootton Rd., Metchosin
© Copyright 2013