Hiking on Vancouver Island is clearly very popular; our B&B guests often remark on the numbers of people seen exercising. This may or may not be arduous but clearly the weather and surrounding beauty encourage outdoor pursuits at any time of year.
Taking a hike / having a walk / going for a stroll – call it what you will and make it as relaxed or arduous as you wish. There are so many places to breathe in fresh air in beautiful settings on southern Vancouver Island where Victoria is situated, everything from a stroll along a beach to the 47km Juan de Fuca Trail. Here are just a few suggestions, with something for (almost) everyone.
Hiking on Vancouver Island
Let’s select some hiking venues just north and west of Victoria. If you do not have a car then ask your B&B innkeeper for suggestions about walks in the neighbourhood, in parks or along the coastline.
In the north, here is one area of natural beauty to stretch your muscles or just to ease them: Gowlland Tod Provincial Park. The easy, and delightful, walk is that shown on the inset of the above link where you walk through natural forest gently descending to the waters of Tod Inlet where you can see remnants of the old cement works and jetty of Robert Butchart’s Vancouver Portland Cement Company. My wife and I never tire of the pleasure of this relaxing walk. The park has over 25km (15 miles) of trails so you have alternative hiking options including steep rough ones taking you up to great views:
To the west you might consider walking along a scenic section of a disused railway track or following some coastline for varying ocean views. The Galloping Goose trail extends for over 55km (34 miles) from Victoria to beyond Sooke and you can join it at many locations. It was a railway line built 100 years ago so has very gentle gradients. Favourite segments include Roche Cove, Matheson Lake and Sooke Potholes. Also in this area is coastal East Sooke Regional Park. East Sooke is a south-facing peninsula of natural beauty – use the Aylard Farm parking area and then take your choice of paths through the old orchard and fields to little beaches and a network of paths shown on the park map. It’s a good place for a picnic overlooking the Olympic Mountains.
Lakeside walks in Victoria
Here are two suggestions for either a stiff walk or relaxed stroll. Elk Lake / Beaver Lake is in the centre of the Saanich Peninsula – you will have passed it along Hwy 17. Park at the southern end on Beaver Lake Road or at the north by Hamsterly Beach off Brookleigh Road. The wide cedar path on the western side goes through the forest at the lakeside or the open eastern side will be brighter. (Look for old rails of the Victoria-Sidney railway of 100 years ago on the SW edge.) Being a lakeside walk it is flat so stroll as far as you wish. A walk around the entire lake will take you about 2.5 hours.
Durrance Lake, south of the Butchart Gardens, is one of those “secret” places only known by the locals who enjoy a fresh water dip. Surrounded by woodlands and easily circumnavigated within 45 minutes.
These few suggestions are only a few of the many options for hiking on Vancouver Island so we would be glad to give you information about other favourite walks.