Earlier this week we took advantage of the lovely spring weather we’re having here on the Island to head out for a hike. My husband had seen pictures of a train tunnel near Goldstream Park and wanted to go find it. He spent a bit of time surfing the internet, trying to find out how to find it. We knew we’d hiked part of the trail before, so we packed water bottles and snacks and set out for the Goldstream Train Tunnel Trestle Trail.
We parked near Goldstream Park and checked the map before setting out up the trail. My husband carried water bottles and some snacks while I carried Jade. This was our first hike of the season and I was happy to see how excited Sunshine and Lily were. They ran ahead of us, eager to get going.
We crossed the river and scrambled up a steep hill, then followed the trail up through the trees to a bridge above the waterfalls. After that, the trail continued upwards, sometimes with stairs, until we reached the train trestle. Lily’s running commentary through this hiking up was “I’m getting high! We’re getting high!” She liked being able to look down and see the trail we’d already hiked in the valley below us.
A steel sign bolted to the rocks just above the bridge told us:
Niagara Creek flowing through this canyon drops 156 feet over nearby Niagara Falls. Hikers are advised to remain on the trails in this area.
The Esquimalt and Nanaimo Railway Line forms the western border of Goldstream Park. Rain construction was started in 1884 and completed at Cliffside Station (Shawnigan Lake) when Sir John A. McDonald, 1815-91, first Prime Minister of Canada, drove the last spike on August 13, 1886.
Finally, we had our first view of the train trestle through the trees:
We scrambled up onto the trestle and began to cross. I walked with Lily while my husband walked with Sunshine. This railway line is currently unused. The ties were only a couple inches apart, giving us a glimpse of the valley far below, but (as my husband reminded himself) neither of us could fall through. We stepped carefully from tie to tie until we reached the far side of the trestle, where we took a break to have some water.
Then we kept following the railway line. On the hike up to the trestle, we’d met a couple other hikers. It’s a quick, easy hike to an excellent view and is very popular. Few people, however, cross the trestle and keep hiking. When we did this hike a few years ago, we didn’t realize there was anything beyond the trestle. So it was fun to have the trail to ourselves. The girls were still having a lot of fun, running ahead and saying “chugga chugga choo CHOO!”
The trail was flat and wide and curved gently through arbutus and evergreen trees. We caught glimpsed of the highway below us, the Goldstream Nature Park, and the island in the middle of the inlet. Other times, rocks rose on either side of the trail, closing us into a quiet, mossy sanctuary. We also saw two broken eggs on the trail and eagles flying above us.
We reached the second train trestle bridge and again crossed carefully, holding onto the girls. On the other side, we had another quick break for water. Then we kept hiking, eager to see the train tunnel. Sunshine was walking ahead of Lily and I with my husband, and kept trying to “make plans” with him to ensure that she saw the tunnel before Lily or I did. I was a little bit surprised by how content Jade was in the Ergo carrier, but she was happy watching her sisters and sipping on an applesauce pouch.
Finally, Sunshine and my husband spotted the train tunnel—just it started to rain a bit. We hiked through the tunnel and found a nice grassy space on the other side to sit and have a snack. I packed granola bars; my husband packed the Easter candy. Down in the valley, we could see cars on the Malahat Highway. We didn’t stay long to eat because our hike had taken us longer than expected; it was now raining lightly and past 6 pm.
Heading back, the girls were clearly getting a bit tired. They both held our hands while we walked, rather than running ahead. I’d shifted Jade from my back to my front and she soon fell asleep. Sunshine got cold, because she’d worn only a vest. I hadn’t brought a hat (I’m not a huge fan of hats) but now wanted one because of the rain, so we played “musical hats” to find a hat that fit everyone. I piggybacked Lily for a short distance, because she got tired, and carried her across both of the trestle bridges. My husband carried Sunshine across the first trestle, but she wanted to walk across the second, then got distracted talking to three girls and slipped, skinning her leg.
Once we started down, though, the girls were hiking like troopers again. My husband and Sunshine got ahead of Lily and I because Lily was going slowly and carefully but chattering the whole time at me. I kept offering to hold her hand, but she was happier just to pick her own way along the rocks and roots, talking about “calming down from running” and how she was doing great. Again, I was amazed at how well she was doing—and how much fun she was having. The girls seem to get bored on flat, straight trails but love a bit of a challenge—any trail that goes up or down and involves rocks and climbing!!!
Finally, we were back at the truck, happy and tired after our hike. We made a quick stop at Goldstream Park for the washrooms and then grabbed burgers at A&W in Langford to finish off the night.
Tips for getting to the Goldstream Train Tunnel Trestle Trail:
This hike starts just past Goldstream Park, about a half an hour drive from Victoria. However, you can’t turn left across the Malahat here, so you have to drive about four kilometers past Goldstream to find the U-turn and then return to pull into the small parking lot on the right just across the road from Goldstream Park.
Alternatively, you can park at Goldstream Park and then follow the trail from the parking lot/outhouses toward the Nature House. When you see the tunnel underneath the highway, go through it. (This tunnel does have a stream through it, but there’s usually enough room to walk on the edges). You can then climb up out of the stream to the left and will find yourself in the parking lot mentioned above.
From the parking lot, you want to turn towards the highway (facing traffic) and look for the trail right beside the road. There is also a trail down towards the stream, but then you have to climb down into the stream, cross the stream, and climb back up a very steep hill. Instead, follow the trail signs along the highway and then up the right side of the stream toward the water fall and bridge and train trestle.
This is what the trailhead looks like:
It takes about 45 minutes to hike up to the train trestle.
It took us two hours to get from the parking lot across both trestles to the train tunnel (including breaks after each trestle and the tunnel). It took us just over an hour to come back down again (without breaks). Our girls were hiking at a comfortable pace for both my husband and I (when they weren’t running ahead of us).
There are a few signs along the railroad tracks. Just after the first trestle is a sign indicating 14 (miles). After the second trestle is a sign indicating 15 and the tunnel is about another twenty minutes beyond that.
For more local hikes, check out my Vancouver Island page.