Whether you’re eager to breathe fresh air, see magnificent scenery, or burn calories, hiking in Victoria is a transformative experience. Blessed with Canada’s mildest climate, Vancouver Island’s biggest city – nicknamed “The Garden City” – abounds with great hikes, from urban landscapes with waterfront views to mountain peaks surrounded by lush forests.
The British Columbia capital is among the West Coast’s most pedestrian-friendly cities and you’ll likely find your heart racing from the beauty of it all. Here are five fabulous hikes in Victoria.
1. Westsong Walkway
The Inner Harbour, with sailboats in front of the Parliament Buildings, is Victoria’s focal point. Near the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel & Suites Victoria, head west across the Johnson Street Bridge for an exhilarating hike along the Westsong Walkway.
This waterfront circuit, curling along the shoreline of the Vic West and Esquimalt communities, is about three miles round-trip, with boardwalks and paved paths.
It’s fun to watch the Coho ferry arriving from Washington State and Harbour Air seaplanes taking off and landing. Or stop at Spinnakers, Canada’s original brewpub, for local food, craft beer, and artisan chocolates. The West Bay marina burgeons with cute float homes and if you’d rather ride back to the Inner Harbour, hop on a Victoria Harbour Ferry water taxi.
2. Dallas Road
On Dallas Road, start at windswept Clover Point, one of North America’s top kite-flying spots, and stroll west along the cliffs above the beach, which is a dog walker’s paradise. On a clear day, the Olympic Mountains loom majestically across the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
While passing flower-laden Beacon Hill Park, stop to admire a 127-foot-high native totem pole, or let your kids loose at the petting zoo. Then check out Mile Zero, the terminus of the Trans-Canada Highway, with a statue of legendary Canadian runner Terry Fox.
Follow the coastline to Ogden Point and stroll to the lighthouse on the 2,500-foot-long concrete breakwater. Finish your two-mile trek with coffee and carrot cake at the nearby Breakwater Bistro.
3. Goldstream Provincial Park
From October to December, Goldstream Provincial Park attracts hikers who marvel at Chum salmon spawning in the river as bald eagles prey on them.
Year-round, other exciting alternatives include hiking up steep Mount Finlayson and viewing the park’s 155-foot-high Niagara Falls. Goldstream Provincial Park is 10 miles from downtown Victoria.
4. Mount Tolmie
Near the lush University of Victoria campus, Mount Tolmie offers arguably the best Victoria panorama you’ll find. Garry Oaks and arbutus trees grow on this compact peak, covered with trails.
From the summit, you’ll see Mount Baker – reminiscent of Japan’s Mount Fuji – in Washington State, as well as the 1860-built Race Rocks lighthouse, and the downtown skyline.
5. Witty’s Lagoon
Birdwatchers flock to Witty’s Lagoon to spot more than 160 bird species, from orange-crowned warblers to great blue herons. Hiking along the lagoon and gazing at the gorgeous Sitting Lady Falls is pure tranquility, less than half an hour from downtown Victoria.