With its scenic West Coast location, boasting a unique mix of ocean shoreline, forests, rivers and lakes, it’s no surprise that hiking is a favourite Victoria pastime.
But where do locals like to explore? From a flat, easy-to-navigate lakeside loop to an urban climb that rewards with stunning 360-degree views, here are three top picks from the people who know best!
Even better, all three are less than a half-hour drive from downtown Victoria.
Elk/Beaver Lake Loop – 3/10 difficulty
A short 20-minute drive from downtown Victoria, Elk/Beaver Lake Regional Park features a 10-kilometre lake-side loop trail perfect for those looking for a longer outing. With minimal elevation change and a mixture of paved, hard-pack dirt, and gravel surface, the trail is a good fit for people of all ages is very stroller-friendly, and can be completed in around two hours.
Parking is available at several points around the lakes, but the recommended start point for the loop trail is the parking lot at the south end of the lakes, near Beaver Beach and the Nature Centre.
From there, the trail features a mix of dense forest and more open areas with plenty of places to stop and enjoy the view over the lakes. The trail also passes through several beaches and a fishing dock.
Tod Inlet trail – 2/10 difficulty (optional return section 4/10 difficulty)
Located in Gowlland Tod Provincial Park, the Tod Inlet trail offers a short but very scenic hike surrounded by lush and varied vegetation and some local history. Scattered throughout the just under three-kilometre trail are the ruins of what was once the Vancouver Portland Cement Company.
Starting from a trailhead and informal parking area off of Wallace Drive in the north end of the park, the trail is mostly smooth hard-pack with the odd gravel and paved sections, making it very family-friendly. After passing through forests which could easily be mistaken for a jungle, hikers emerge on the inlet itself and are treated to a secluded beach overlooking the small boats often moored in the inlet.
On the return journey, hikers have a choice of simply retracing their steps, or taking a smaller and more challenging trail back to the parking area which more closely follows the creek and features some steep climbs, with more rocks and roots on the path. The hike can be completed in around an hour, including the return journey back to the parking area.
Mount Douglas Irvine Trail – 6/10 difficulty
Saanich’s Mount Douglas offers stunning views over the entire Greater Victoria region at its summit, which can be accessed by road or by multiple hiking trails. For those looking for the best experience to challenge both the intermediate and the expert alike, look no further than Irvine Trail.
Starting at the beach parking lot, the four-kilometre trail features steep, rocky and narrow climbs which include some scrambling.
About halfway into the ascent, several rocky clearings offer beautiful views toward the Gulf Islands and, on a clear day, Mount Baker in Washington state. Continuing on to the summit, the views become panoramic and uninterrupted. Depending on pace and how often you stop to enjoy the excellent views, the round trip can be completed in around 90 minutes.
Piqued your interest for more Greater Victoria hikes? The West Coast Traveller’s Amy Attas shares her go-to guide to Victoria’s trails here!
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