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Hike, Beach, Swimming

Where to next on Vancouver Island: Swim At the Potholes

•  Easy-Moderate
•  Sooke
Time:
1 hour - All Day
Length:
.1km-8km (.1mi-5mi)

Activity:

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Accessibility:

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7 Reasons Why YOU Should Swim at Sooke Potholes

The Sooke Potholes Regional Park is one of the most beautiful parks on Vancouver Island. Hiking trails wind through an incredible landscape with lookout points for breath-taking views over river cliffs and diverse wildlife such as salmon swimming below or eagles soaring above; there really isn’t anything else like it around!

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Swim At the Potholes Photos:

As soon as the rain stops falling and the summer sun starts shining, the waters of the Sooke River begin to recede. The area gets packed with families enjoying quality time by cooling off in this refreshing water. Sooke Potholes Provincial Park offers locations up and down the river, each one unique, from pebble beaches to long swaths of solid smooth rock to claim and layout. Sooke Potholes is an excellent place for a freshwater swim.

A unique experience! If it’s a nice day go for a swim, the water is refreshing and you can’t beat the experience. If the weather isn’t on your side, explore. It can take days to investigate everything there is to offer at the Sooke Potholes.

Tips and Suggestions

Parking is limited: Sooke Potholes is a busy place to visit, and it doesn’t take long for the four parking lots to fill up. So in the summer months on a warm day, it’s recommended to get there before 10:00 am if you want your pick of parking.

Washrooms: There are toilets at all parking lots except at parking lot 3. No running water.

More Rock than Sand: If you plan to spend time wading in the water or exploring the shores, water shoes can come in very handy.

Safety: Safety is your personal responsibility. Be prepared for possible hazards and always exercise caution. Cell phone coverage is limited.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Temperature of the Sooke River?
Let’s say, refreshing. Early season the water can be chilly but in the summer months, Sooke River is warm enough to swim although it might feel cool at first but once you are in the water with the warm sun it feels GREAT.

May 7 C
August 20C

Are dogs allowed at Sooke Potholes
Sooke Potholes Provincial Park is dog-friendly. Dogs must be on a leash at all times and pick up after your dog.

Is there an entrance fee
There’s no entrance fee, but in the summer months from May 1 to September, there is a daily parking fee of $2.25 per day or $20 for a seasonal parking pass. The ticket dispensers accept loonies, toonies, quarters and credit cards

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Top 7 Reasons You Should Swim at Sooke Potholes

#7 – Relaxation
The world is fast-paced. The west coast offers a relaxed and laid-back feel that’s hard to beat, so let’s take it down one more notch. Once you get in the water with trees and cliffs towering over your head – there isn’t much that can top Sooke Potholes’ chilled-out vibe.

#6 – It’s Close
A short and beautiful 25-minute drive from Langford or 40 minutes west of Victoria makes it well worth the drive. It’s an easy place to get to by car or even bike via the Galloping Goose Trail. Google maps…

#5 – Not Overcrowded
That doesn’t mean it’s not busy! However, the number of people visiting the park is limited due to parking availability. This problem offers pros and cons. It makes it harder to find parking if you come later in the day, but overcrowding generally isn’t a problem. (locals might not agree)

#4 – Refreshing Freshwater
Health studies show that regular exposure to cool water is good for your health. We’re not scientists, so we don’t know if it’s from the cool refreshing water or the area’s natural beauty. We do know you will feel better after swimming in the Sooke River.

#3 – Great Place to Explore
You can spend days finding new spots along the Sooke River, travelling up to the CRD watershed boundary.

#2 – Family Fun
There’s something fun and exciting for everyone in the family!
Pick whichever suits YOU most. Sit on the beach, wade in the water or take an easy hike with lunch at one of the picnic tables: Sooke Potholes, the spot for your next family adventure.

#1 – So Much More Than Just Swimming
You are in for a treat if you plan on spending some extra time here. The list of things to see and do is endless, so take your pick from hikes or beaches!

Bonus: –
6 Marked Beaches:

Each stop offers its unique view of the Sooke River. From Parking Lot 1, you can follow the Riverside Trail for over 4.5km up to the campground along the way, finding marked and unmarked beaches and great swimming holes.

Galloping Goose Trail:
A great bike ride to the end of the Galloping Goose Trail. This location was the home of LeachTown, once a thriving gold boomtown. Unfortunately, there isn’t much to see here now, but it still holds a historic spot in the Sooke area’s history book.

The Ruins:
You can’t see much, but it’s still walking up to the fence line to view the enormous fireplace and other stone walls of Deertrail Resort located in the center of Sooke Potholes Reginal Park.

Camping:
Past parking lot 3 is Spring Salmon Place Campground, a small campground great for tents or small trailers.

On the opposite side and at the mouth of the river, closer to town, is Sooke River Campground which can accommodate larger trailers.

Vancouver Island Campgrounds 

Hiking:
Take a small hike up to Mary Vine Creek Waterfall (winter waterfall) or a longer day hike down Peden Lake or Todd Creek Trail.

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The Sooke Potholes in Sooke, BC are marvellous. It’s pretty cold though (as it’s a river, not a stagnant lake) so plan to go on a really warm day. If you get the chance, bring a nice pair of water shoes and do some exploring up the river. The scenery there is impeccable.

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Too Many Choices

We recommend your first swimming visit to Sooke Potholes be Crescent Beach. To get there, park at Parking Lot 1, and it’s a short hike down the hill to the small sandy beach area. Find a spot on the sand or wade across the river where a sunny rock beach is located.

It’s a beautiful area with clear water and great views. You will be surprised to find tall cliffs, open waters and large rock formations.

More options:
If parking lot 1 is full, there are three other parking lots, each having its own options for river access.

Just before parking lot 1, you would have driven through the provincial parking lot. You can find a swimming area there, or if you choose parking lot 2, you can head to Sand Pebble beach.
Parking lot 3, hike north to find Skipping Rock Beach or Ripple Rock Beach. All are great to explore, but if you are hauling around kids, toys, and food for the day, staying in one of the lower parking lots might be your best bet.

Hours: Sunrise to Sunset

Parking: From May 1st to September 30th, paid parking is in effect. The machines accept credit cards but can be very slow due to the limited cell service, so having change is handy.
Four parking lots, that fill up fast in the summer months. The most popular swimming spot is Parking Lot 1. There is a cost to park in the summer months.

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Gear Tips For Vancouver Island

THE NORTH FACE women's waterproof antora jacket sq
THE NORTH FACE Women's
Waterproof Antora Jacket
North face mens antora Rain Hoodie black sq
THE NORTH FACE Men's
Antora Rain Hoodie
Helly Hansen Mens seven J waterproof rain coat sq
Helly Hansen Men's
Breathable Rain Coat
Polygon 32 oz waterbottle sq
32oz Water Bottle
for Fitness and Outdoor
Osprey Sportlite 20 Hiking Backpack sq
Osprey Sportlite 20
Hiking Backpack
adventure first aid kit
Adventure Medical Kit
Ultralight and Watertight

When you’re gearing up for an outdoor adventure on Vancouver Island, the key is to dress in layers, no matter the season. The island’s weather can throw curveballs, with conditions varying significantly from the sheltered forests to the breezy coastlines.

For those cool winter escapades, your go-to should include quality rain gear, topped off with a cozy beanie or toque, and a pair of light gloves to keep the chill at bay.

Summer explorers, don’t be fooled by the warmer temps; that same waterproof shell that kept you dry in the winter will be your best friend against the cool ocean breezes.

Remember, the right clothing and gear can make or break your outdoor experience on Vancouver Island, ensuring you enjoy every moment, come rain or shine.

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FAQ:

What is the Temperature of the Sooke River?
Let’s say, refreshing. Early season the water can be chilly but in the summer months, Sooke River is warm enough to swim although it might feel cool at first but once you are in the water with the warm sun it feels GREAT.

May 7 C
August 20C

Are dogs allowed at Sooke Potholes
Sooke Potholes Provincial Park is dog-friendly. Dogs must be on a leash at all times and pick up after your dog.

Is there an entrance fee
There’s no entrance fee, but in the summer months from May 1 to September, there is a daily parking fee of $2.25 per day or $20 for a seasonal parking pass. The ticket dispensers accept loonies, toonies, quarters and credit cards

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Original Author:

Modified: June 26, 2023
Last Visit: January 28, 2023
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Thank you for visiting – I hope you found the information you were looking for at VIBL (Vancouver Island Bucket List) please continue to discover all of the great places that makes Vancouver Island so great! 

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Pack Out:
We love Vancouver Island and want to keep the natural beauty. Please respect the places you visit and pack out what you pack in and leave the area better than when you arrived. We all know how much trash can spoil an experience and the environment, so please help us keep it clean!

Wildlife:
Vancouver Island is a land of natural beauty and abundant wildlife. Please be aware of your surroundings and take the usual precautions for personal and wildlife safety.
Black bears, cougars and even wolves are common on Vancouver Island for more on Wildlife Safety Click Here 

Tide and Seasonal Safety:
Changing seasons and tides can have a drastic effect on most locations on Vancouver Island. Please be cautious as the information in this post may vary depending on the time of year and weather. Make sure to check for current weather and tide information before you make your journey! Click here for the tides in your area. 

Be aware of ocean currents before swimming, paddle boarding or kayaking.

Land Acknowledgement:
We would like to acknowledge the land we appreciate daily within the 50 First Nations that make up the traditional territories of the Coast Salish, Nuu chah nulth, and Kwakiutl–the first peoples of Vancouver Island .

Disclaimer:
The information on this website should not be taken as accurate, complete or up-to-date. Please check and look into the information yourself. We do not assume any liabilities for the use of this information. It is unreasonable to rely solely upon the information from this website. 

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