If you’re visiting Victoria, B.C., heading out for a hike is a good way to explore the region’s natural beauty, get some fresh air and burn off excess energy.
“You could get anything – beach, lake or forest, for any level, from easy to advanced hiking,” says art blogger Jessica Ruth Freedman, mother of two young children, whose family hikes regularly in the Victoria area.
Here are a few family-friendly hiking areas and picnic spots to check out when you’re visiting Victoria and the Capital Regional District:
Francis/King Regional Park
Francis/King Regional Park, an approximately half an hour’s drive from downtown Victoria, offers a network of trails for all abilities and ages, says Ryan LeBlanc of the Natural Connection – Personalized Guided Adventure. Stop in at the nature centre for information about the park and trails.
Swan Lake Nature Preserve
Walking at the nature preserve is flat and easy, and you can follow a good trail around the lake. “One neat feature that kids get a kick out of, is that part of the trail goes on a floating bridge across the lake,” says LeBlanc. And you can check out the nature programs for kids while you’re here.
Goldstream Provincial Park
Goldstream Provincial Park, 16 km from downtown Victoria, offers good hiking “super close to the city,” says Tourism Victoria business ambassador Jordan Ray, a parent of three young children. “For little kids, it’s nice, because it’s flat.” The park’s interpretive centre is a fabulous place to learn more about the area, where you can watch salmon spawning in the fall.
Witty’s Lagoon Regional Park
A 20-minute drive west of Victoria in Metchosin, Witty’s Lagoon features a long sandbar and beach with great spots for building sand castles and picnicking. This is also a wonderful place for bird watching. Look for birds such as kingfishers, warblers, juncos, Canada geese, great blue heron, western sandpipers and others. Stop at the Nature Information Centre to find out more.
At Durrance Lake, the largest lake in Mount Work Regional Park, the walking is short, flat and easy. There are beaches along the lake’s north shore, and a variety of places to stop for a picnic. This would be a nice walk for grandparents, too, Freedman says. An approximately 40-minute drive from Victoria.
Sooke Potholes Regional Park
An approximately 45-minute drive from Victoria, Sooke Potholes Regional Park is situated along the Sooke River, southern Vancouver Island’s second largest river. You can hike on forest trails, and cool off in the water. When autumn comes, the Sooke River is home to a salmon run.