Your 2-day Saanich staycation: Hike, pedal and paddle!

Your 2-day Saanich staycation: Hike, pedal and paddle!

Where will your summer travels take you? While many of us are staying closer to home for the time-being, the good news is there are few better places to be!

Mike Goldsworthy, Saanich Park Planner and Designer, shared his plan for a two-day adventure through Saanich parks that will have you hiking, biking and paddling through the district.

“With such a diverse array of amenities throughout Saanich, there really is something for all ages to enjoy!” he says.

Day 1 – Quadra-Swan Lake

Day 1 is an eight-kilometre circle route to enjoy by foot or bike, starting and finishing in the North Quadra area.

Start your day at Beckwith Park, with parking, washrooms, playground, playing fields and and a duck pond.

By bicycle or foot, head along the park trail past the duck pond, linking to the North Quadra Local Connector trail or follow Morris Drive south and turning left on Nicholson Street to the Lochside Regional Trail. Heading south on the trail and crossing McKenzie Avenue and Quadra Street, you’ll reach the Swan Trestle. An interpretive sign shares information about the Canadian Northern Pacific Railway, just before you link to the Swan Lake-Christmas Hill Nature Sanctuary perimeter trail.

It’s important to note that you must walk your bike while on the sanctuary trail. Head toward the nature house, currently welcoming visitors from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday to Friday, where you can learn about the natural habitat and wildlife. (Please note as well that dogs are not permitted in the sanctuary.)

From the sanctuary, cycle to Rainbow Park for a picnic lunch and a chance for the kids to explore one of Saanich’s newer playgrounds.

Fuelled up for the rest of your adventures, head across McKenzie Avenue at the Rainbow Street pedestrian overpass to Vic Derman Park – formerly Christmas Hill Park. “Park your bikes in the racks and enjoy a hike to the top of Christmas Hill for some great views of the city, Juan de Fuca Strait and the Olympic Mountains,” Mike says.

Following the connector trail to Rogers Way, visit the Garry oak habitat of Bruce Hutchison Park, and explore a little of the region’s history with several interpretive signs – a great way to include a little learning with your day’s adventures!

Crossing Quadra Street at Tuxedo Drive, follow the connector trail back to Beckwith Park where you can cool off with a splash in the waterpark!

While the Gorge Waterway is a favourite waterfront destination for joggers and dog-walkers, it’s also popular with paddlers.

While the Gorge Waterway is a favourite waterfront destination for joggers and dog-walkers, it’s also popular with paddlers.

Day 2 – Gorge paddle

On the Tillicum end of Gorge Waterway Park, park near the canoe and kayak club, where the adjacent small beach is ideal for launching your kayak or canoe.

Heading right, toward Admirals Road, you’ll avoid the tidal waters and reversing falls that can be tricky under the Tillicum bridge.

Enjoy a quiet paddle to the sandy beach at Craigflower-Kosapsom Park, where you can relax, enjoy a snack and learn about local sealife and the history of the Lekwungen-speaking people. Get immersed in the Esquimalt and Songhees First Nations through the interpretive signage and the legend of Camossung. The kids can stretch their legs at the playground before paddling back, or head under the Craigflower Bridge and into Portage Inlet for more explorations.

Upon your return to the put-in beach, explore the trails around the park to find a special sculpture by Fred Dobbs of Camossung, the protector of the Songhees people’s local food resources of coho salmon, herring, oysters and ducks.

Practical matters: For Day 1, washrooms are available at Beckwith Park and near the Lochside/Blenkinsop trail junction. For Day 2, find washrooms near Craigflower-Kosapsom Park. Both routes also have grocers and cafés nearby.

To discover more in Saanich, find a park here and plan your adventure!