Stunning vistas of Victoria from Gowlland Tod and Goldstream Provincial Park trails, Vancouver Island, Canada
Location: Gowlland Tod Provincial Park and Goldstream Provincial Park near Victoria on the southern tip of Vancouver Island, BC. The trailhead, located at the Mackenzie Bight access point at base of the Mt. Work, is just a 25-minute drive from downtown Victoria. The trail for this particular route ends in Goldstream Provincial Park at the base of Mt. Finalyson, also just a 25-minute drive from downtown Victoria.
Distance: The point-to-point 10.2 mile/17 km route, from the Mackenzie Bight access point to the base of Mt. Finlayson in Goldstream Provincial Park, features several trails that run along the ridge of the Gowlland Range, which towers 430 metres over the calm waters of Finlayson Arm below. The Timberman Trail and Ridge Trail in Gowlland Tod offer plenty of stunning views of the Saanich Inlet and the Olympic Mountain ranges. The Mt. Finlayson Trail in Goldstream Park offers incredible 360-degree views of the southern tip of Vancouver Island once you reach the summit, about 419 metres above sea level.
Terrain: The well-maintained trails in both parks vary from soft, single-track trails that wind amongst moss-covered rocks, opulent ferns and old growth cedars to steep, rocky climbs and descents. Trail shoes are recommended, especially in the winter when the trails can get a bit
mucky. Be prepared to use your hands to help you safely descend Mt. Finlayson—the last 1.5 km is incredibly steep and can be busy in the summer with tourists and other hikers.
Highlights: Definitely the incredible vistas, which make for amazing photo opportunities along the trail. Jocelyn Hill and Squally Reach are two lookouts not to miss, rewarding runners with stunning views of Finlayson Arm and the Saanich Inlet. And of course, Mt. Finlayson is worth the climb not only for the views at the top, but also for the beautiful, serene surroundings in pristine Goldstream Provincial Park. The park is home to numerous types of flora and fauna, including 600-year-old Douglas fir trees, western red cedar, and chum salmon, which you can see spawning in the river at the end of your run if you visit in late fall.
Directions to Trailhead: You will need two vehicles (or someone to drop you off and pick you up) to complete this point-to-point run. Goldstream Provincial Park is located about 25 minutes from downtown Victoria, just off of Hwy #1 at Finlayson Arm Road. Leave one vehicle in the day-use parking lot here and continue on Finlayson Arm Road. Turn left onto Millstream Road, then right onto Millstream Lake Road. Continue along Millstream Lake Road, keeping left at the Munn Road junction. Millstream Lake Road will turn into Ross Durrance Road.
The Mackenzie Bight access is located off Ross Durrance Road, about 15-20 minutes from the parking lot in Goldstream Park. There is a parking lot a few hundred metres from the trailhead on the other side of the road at the base of Mt. Work.
The trails are clearly marked with orange markers and signposts with trail maps along the entire route. To get to Mt. Finlayson, follow the Roundtree Loop trail once you reach the perimeter of Gowlland Tod Park at the Caleb Pike access point. You will exit onto a road then turn right onto Finlayson Arm Road. The Mt. Finlayson trailhead is just a few hundred metres down the road on your left (you will have passed it on your drive in). Follow this trail up and over Mt. Finlayson. The trail ends on Finlayson Arm Road, just over the bridge from the parking lot at Goldstream Provincial Park.