Everything you need to know to start hitting these lower Island trails
The Island, known for its lush scenery, towering trees, and outdoor pursuits, is the perfect place to start hiking. Maybe you’re new in town, or recently lied to a Tinder date that you love hiking too. Whatever the reason, here are some of the best scenic hikes on the lower Island that you can trek today.
If you do nothing else with this list, at least you read about climbing mountains.
Mount Work summit view, photo by Isabella Kennedy.
Mount Work Summit Trail
Looking to put in some werk? Try the Mt. Work summit trail. A relatively short, intensive climb takes you to the top of Mt. Work Regional Park, overlooking dense forests, the Saanich Inlet, and beyond. While it’s got a great view, this trail is certainly not an easy stroll and gets pretty busy on summer weekends. Also, after heavy rainfall, this trail can flood and gets muddy, especially near the beginning. Birks are not recommended, and bring a water bottle.
Macaulay Point Park
If you have a pet dog that needs new territory to strut, look no further than this historic spot in Esquimalt. With a launch area for kayaks and boats, and a cliff for novice climbers to practice on, this trail takes you to the site of Fort Macaulay. This park offers views of the Olympic mountains and the Salish Sea along with a history lesson of one of the most important artillery batteries in Victoria. The trail loops around the park in an outer and inner circle with interesting remnants of artillery and military ramparts. History buffs are highly encouraged to traverse this park.
Those looking for a challenge should try out Mount Finlayson. Definitely the most difficult trail on this list, Finlayson starts off relatively easy but near the summit the trail gets rugged and steep. Some parts will require you to be on all fours and spidermonkey climb (Edward Cullen style) to the top. Hiking boots and a protein bar are recommended. Will be challenging for beginners.
Mystic Beach, photo by Mary MacLeod.
Maybe you are an ocean lover with an affinity for beaches? Look no further than 76 km away from downtown Victoria. The windy west coast road towards Mystic Beach makes for an awesome cruise with friends or family. The parking lot for this hike is at China Beach, which is located along the shores of the Juan de Fuca Strait. Once you park near the gravel side of the lot, hike for two km through lush forest, following the short red markers on the trees that lead to the sandy Mystic Beach. Towards the left of the beach is a small waterfall cascading through the rocks. Ethereal and unreal.
East Sooke Regional Park, photo by Isabella Kennedy.
East Sooke Regional Park
Level: Beginner – Intermediate
There are 50 km of trails that wind through this beautiful park. Many of the hikes are beginner-friendly, except for the Coast Trail which is the most difficult route and has unbeatable ocean views. This is a favorite spot for many locals, so expect a packed parking lot on sunny weekends. Be sure to peep the petroglyphs at Alldridge Point when you’re there.
Along the Trans-Canada highway, located about 20 km from Victoria, lies the most luscious trail of greenery and serenity you can witness. The sound of birds and the flow of the river compensate for the highway traffic. This hike begins at Goldstream campground. Further into the forest are two paths, one that crosses a bridge and one that goes through a tunnel. Each path leads to scenic views. The tunnel leads to a waterfall and the bridge ends at a viewpoint of a lake. This is also a known salmon spawning ground in the fall where thousands of salmon make their way upriver to spawn and die.
If you are looking to get into hiking, these are some of the best scenic routes on the lower Island. You’ll be sweaty, but you’ll look great doing it. Like, are you a local or something?