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Victoria has a seemingly endless number of amazing hiking trails. Most take you to wild and beautiful Pacific Ocean views and others take you to tranquil lakes in beautiful BC Coastal Rainforest wilderness. Regional Parks and Provincial Parks are everywhere you turn in Victoria and finding them is not too difficult. These are some of the best of the best hiking trails in and around Victoria.
Avatar Grove and Canada's gnarliest tree is an amazing thing to see and finding it is half the fun. The cute little town of Port Renfrew, known for it's logging, amazing fishing and home of one of the trailheads to the world renowned West Coast Trail, is now reworking it's image to include this fantastic wonder. Dubbed Canada's gnarliest tree this mammoth cedar will surely leap from the unknown to the feature of millions of tourist photos in the coming days and years. Avatar Grove is a 50 hectare area of old growth forest it has shot to prominence in this part of the world and groups everywhere you look are embracing it as something to be saved, admired and loved. Not cut into lumber. The Victoria based Ancient Forest Alliance is at the forefront of rescuing and protecting Avatar Forest. They discovered, named and drove it into the world's eyes. Avatar Grove is slowly growing into a hiking destination. Wooden stars and a boardwalk is being constructed and seems to grow month to month. There is even a viewing platform for the gnarly tree at an ideal location to take in the view. Though Avatar Grove and Canada's gnarliest tree is a couple hours drive from Victoria, the drive is very scenic. The various sections/trailheads of the Juan de Fuca Trail are all easy stops on the way to Avatar Grove. East Sooke Park, Witty's Lagoon, Fort Rodd Hill and many more sights are also located along the way.
Bear Hill Regional Park is a nice hill trail, just north of Elk/Beaver Lake in Saanich. It is an easy 2k hike to the summit where the views are sensational. From the trailhead to the summit only takes about 20-30 minutes. High up on the Saanich Peninsula you can see the Gulf Islands and even the San Juan Islands in the United States. The technically active, and alarmingly close volcano, Mount Baker in Washington State is very visible as well on a clear day. The trail to Bear Hill is easy and runs through a beautiful forest of Douglas fir trees that lead to the unexpected grove of Garry oak trees at the summit. The more you hike in Victoria, the more you notice these wonderful hiking trails to rocky hills/mountains. From Bear Hill's 220 metre elevation you may be able to spot other, distant Victoria mountains. If you look toward downtown Victoria you should be able to make out Mount Douglas and possibly Mount Tolmie. Bear Hill Regional Park connects with Elk/Beaver Lakes Regional Park making this small park into quite a larger area to hike. A beautiful 10k trail runs around Elk and Beaver Lakes.
East Sooke Regional Park is a convenient and easily accessible way to experience the wild, west coast of Vancouver Island. Weather blasted rocky cliffs, sandy beaches and deep coastal forest trails run throughout the park. Every few minutes along the coast you come to another startlingly desolate ocean vantage point. Everything about East Sooke Park is just great and should not be missed on a trip to Victoria anytime of the year. The sheer size of this park and number of trails, over 50 kilometres of them. The Coastal Trail, almost 12 kilometres long, stretches out linearly in an array of pocket beaches, rocky viewpoints and fantastically alive tide pools. It hugs the cliff, ducks into the forest and back out to another stunning ocean viewpoint. It does this over and over again. Dozens of times, and not once does it get boring. The Strait of Juan de Fuca and swirling mass of green and blue stretches out toward the Olympic Mountains in the United States. East Sooke Regional Park has three main access points and trailheads. This allows the huge park to be divided up into three manageable parts, each one with very different attributes. The Aylard Farm trailhead is the easy, family friendly and relaxing way to see East Sooke Park. A few short, 5 minute trails take you down to beaches, tidal pools and picnic areas. The Anderson Cove trailhead is popular with hikers tackling the more challenging trails to Babbington Hill and Mount Maguire. The Pike Road trailhead is the furthest west access to East Sooke Park with an easy, 1.5 kilometre trail leading down to Iron Mine Beach.
The Elk & Beaver Lake Trail is one of many beautiful lakeside trails in Victoria. From the convenient parking lot the trail is mostly flat, gravel or dirt, densely forested at times and runs around both Elk and Beaver Lakes to complete a 10k circuit. The park is very popular for swimming, picnicking, windsurfing, boating, fishing and rowing. Though it can get busy the large size of the park disperses people quite well. If you are running here you will find the trails around the lake peaceful and quiet even if the sandy beaches are crowded and noisy. Like other BC Provincial Parks there are excellent toilet facilities at several points along this beautiful and relaxing trail. Concession stands are located at both ends of the park as well as water sport equipment rental shops at the Elk Lake end of the park. A connecting trail extends from the north end of the park leading to Bear Hill Regional Park. Bear Hill sits high above the surrounding area and has beautiful views of Saanich Peninsula as well as the more distant San Juan and Gulf Islands. On a clear day you can easily spot Mount Baker in the United States.