Hike your heart out around Victoria

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View from Mount Doug (PKOLS) –Brenna Waugh (photo)

View from Mount Doug (PKOLS) –Brenna Waugh (photo)

 

Victoria is an incredible city for the casual outdoor enthusiast. Now that the sun is staying up later and the weather is getting friendlier, you too can join wilderness-loving folk by trying these three classic Victoria hikes.

Mount Doug Park (P’KOLS) is by far the best value hike in Victoria. It is easily accessible and suits a range of hiking abilities. Only 15 minutes on the bus from UVic (#39), you can be up, down, around, and back in less than two hours. It’s big enough to keep you exploring, but small enough that the search and rescue teams won’t have to be called if you lose your compass. The summit boasts panoramic views and is a prime sunset-watching perch.

For those looking for a longer gambol in the woods, Goldstream Park is a great choice. The park is busy on weekends, but this should not deter you from revelling in its splendour. This trip is feasible only by car—go north on the Island Highway until you reach the Goldstream Provincial Park day-use parking lot. It is well marked and takes about 20 minutes from downtown Victoria.

Those who feel like getting sweaty should make the trek up Mount Finlayson. This hike is not for your grandma. While it does take you on a lovely winding path through a beautiful ancient forest, the trail steepens and the final portion of the hike involves scrambling up sketchy rock faces. To add insult to injury, the summit offers a less-than-spectacular view of the Bear Mountain Golf Club. The slog is worth it for the challenge, but may not be your cup of tea if a stunning view is what motivates you.

Alternatively, a less gruelling option from the same parking lot takes you to a recently retired railway and trestle. This trail is on the other side of the highway, so rather than risking the dash across the road, find the creek tunnel that runs underneath the highway. Check out a park map for more specific trail details.

If you fancy yourself too pro for Goldstream, head to East Sooke Park and plan to spend the entire day there. The highlight of this park is the Coast Trail—a 10-kilometre route that takes you just shy of the most southerly tip of Vancouver Island.

Putting words to it would spoil the magnificence, but logistical advice will enhance your trip. It takes 45 minutes to drive to East Sooke, and it is worth looking up directions before you go. While you’re at it, print a trail map, as it’s not hard to get lost and you may be out of range of Canadian cell reception. If you have the option, take two cars and shuttle between parking lots at either end of the trail. If one car is all you have, hike a portion of the Coast Trail and use the Interior Trail to loop back to the parking lot.

Lastly, in case your parents aren’t around to nag you, make sure you are prepared for any trip you take into the woods, especially if you are going into a remote area. It is not impossible to lose your way in many of the parks surrounding Victoria. Bring a map, warm layers, food, and water. Let someone know where you are going, and always allow enough time be out of the park before dark. Now go and get out in the fresh air.

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