Short hikes that will take you to a true West Coast wonder, waterfalls that cascade directly into the Pacific Ocean.
Along the west coast of Southern Vancouver Island, you’ll find towering Sitka spruce trees, beaches defined by volcanic rock, and views of white-capped mountains rising over the ocean. Water reigns supreme here, from the rain that nourishes the lush coastal temperate rainforest to the tides that ebb and flow, the landscape is shaped by its shifting forms. On these hikes, you’ll have the chance to marvel at it all.
Sitting Lady Falls is the closest to downtown Victoria, lying, or sitting rather, in the rural town of Metchosin. A short walk through the forest and around a cliffside boardwalk, you’ll hear the rush of the waterfall before you see it. Framed by maple trees, the waterfall cascades as one before splitting into two, giving the impression of a lady sitting over the tidal lagoon.
Access to the other three hikes, Sandcut Beach, Mystic Beach, and Sombrio Beach, are all off of the Juan de Fuca Highway, also called Route 14. Heading west from downtown Victoria, the road is well signposted and easy to navigate, but do take note the town of Sooke is your last chance for gas, and most people lose cell phone service shortly after passing through.
Sandcut Beach, in Jordan River Regional Park, is first up on the highway. Unlike most hikes, the descent is on your way there—you’ll pass through the forest and take a staircase down to the beach. A golden sandstone embankment rises out of the cobbled shore as twin waterfalls each carve a unique path down the rock face.
The hike to the Mystic Beach waterfall starts from the China Beach Provincial Park day-use area where the Juan de Fuca Trail begins (or ends). One of the longest of these four hikes, the trail will take you approximately 45 minutes to reach the beach where the tall, narrow waterfall drops over a sheer sandstone cliff face.
Sombrio Beach, the farthest from Victoria and with the least protection from the Olympic Peninsula, resembles the beaches of Tofino or the Oregon coast and is known for surfing. But it also has a waterfall or two, if you know where to look. To find the one that meets the ocean, you’ll hike along the main beaches and then enter the forest, following the Juan de Fuca Trail to a quiet cove. This waterfall is reminiscent of McWay Falls in Big Sur but with a much bigger dose of solitude.
With some planning and ambition, these waterfalls could all be seen in a single, long day. However, with their unique and relaxing beaches, you may want to take your time and plan to spend a day at each or even camp overnight at Mystic or Sombrio Beach.