Climb every mountain… or stick to easier trails!
Victoria is a hiker’s paradise, with a variety of views from seaside to mountaintop and difficulty ranging from paved paths to steep climbs. Pick a trail that suits your goals, or crush them all over a season!
The big uphill sweat:
- Mount Finlayson: You’ll start in lush old-growth and celebrate on the exposed summit with 360-degree views. The real question is how do you get down? The top third of the Mount Finlayson is rocky cliff-face — not exactly rock climbing, but you’ll have to use your hands to clamber up. It makes for a fun challenge on the ascent, but can be hard on your knees (and your nerves) on the way down. Past the summit on the back side of the mountain you’ll find a wider forest trail for a smoother descent — it makes the hike longer, but it’s worth it.
- Mount Work: Take a long look at the map in the McKenzie Bight parking lot before you start — the first few hundred metres of the trail are confusing! Once you navigate those junctions it’s smooth sailing and gruelling climbing the rest of the way. The forested summit doesn’t offer any views, but you can watch ships in Saanich Inlet and see south down the Peninsula from clearings before and after the summit.
- Jocelyn Hill: The nice thing about Jocelyn Hill is that you don’t have to start climbing right away — give your body time to warm up! Park at McKenzie Bight (as you would for Mount Work) but walk 200 metres further down the road to find the Jocelyn Hill trailhead. After your flat warm-up prepare to climb steep sections all the way to viewpoints at Squally Reach and Jocelyn Hill.
All ages and abilities:
- Dallas Road Waterfront Pathway: Watch the dogs and the kites in Clover Point Park, push your stroller on the paved oceanside path, or watch waves smash along the Ogden Point Breakwater. The perfect spot to soak up the rays on a sunny day!
- Island View Beach: Take the gravel walkway for a leisurely stroll, or drop down on the beach to comb for treasure. When the wind is right, take a seat on a hunk of driftwood and watch the wind surfers tumbling in the waves.
- Elk/Beaver Lake: The trail around the lake is wide and smooth, but at 10 kilometres you may not want to do the whole thing. Watch out for horses, and see if you can catch the Canadian Olympic Rowing team training on the lake!
- Horth Hill: Made famous by former royals Harry and Meghan when they visited in the winter of 2019-2020, the short, steep climb has a few cross-trails to give you options — duck out early, or do some zig-zagging for a longer hike.
- Bear Hill: The Bear Hill Road access point has better parking, but you can also strike out from a trailhead on Central Saanich Road. It’s a short, steep climb to great views across the Strait to the mainland.
Choose your own adventure:
Sometimes you don’t know how far you want to hike before you set out. These parks offer networks of trails and loops so you can find a length that suits your tastes, without doubling back.
- Goldstream’s West Side: Park at the campground and dive in on the Arbutus Loop or Prospector’s Trail. Traipse the rolling terrain through lush rainforest, check out a waterfall or look for salmon running in the autumn. The trail is never flat, but it’s not too gruelling either.
- ȽÁU, WELṈEW̱/John Dean Provincial Park: Trails wind through old-growth cedar and rocky Garry oak groves, with an interesting mix of artifacts to keep things interesting. Find remnants of pioneer John Dean’s life on the mountain, as well as culturally modified trees from the many coastal Indigenous nations who continue to harvest cedar bark for art and clothing. Trails are well-signed, but expect to spend a bit of time staring at ‘you are here’ maps before you get your bearings. ȽÁU, WELṈEW̱ is best pronounced ‘tlay will nook.’
- Pkols/Mount Douglas: Beach, forest or mountaintop: take your pick, because Pkols has all three. Opt for a wide path with room for bikes or a stroller, clamber up something steep, or just drive to the summit! Navigating can be challenging, so download the GPS-enabled map to follow the blue dot on your phone.
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