Just 15 minutes north of downtown Victoria, Mount Douglas Park is a go-to spot for trail-runners, dog-walkers, and casual hikers alike. The largest urban forest on the Saanich Peninsula, it features over 21 kilometers of hiking trails in the 188 hectares surrounding the 226-meter summit of Mount Douglas. There is also a large grassy picnic area with a playground and plenty of space for relaxing in addition to access to a 1.3-kilometer stretch of ocean shore in Cordova Bay facing east toward the Haro Strait. The bay is mostly pebbly and rocky shoreline, but there are some nice tide pools to enjoy, and the potential for marine life sightings including seals, sea lions, orcas and various species of birds.
Most people would say the highlight of the park is the incredible 360-degree view from the summit. To the south, visitors will enjoy probably the best view of the city of Victoria from any hike in the area. To the north, the east shore of the Saanich Peninsula stretches as far as the eye can see, with James, Sydney, and D’arcy Islands punctuating the Haro Strait. To the east, Mount Baker towers over the San Juan Islands across the border, and to the west Jocelyn Hill and the Malahat mountain pass are the backdrop to the semi-rural countryside of Saanich. It’s possible to drive to within a few hundred meters of the summit via Churchill Drive, so the view is accessible for wheelchairs those who need it.
There are three main parking areas; the base of of Churchill Drive, the top of Churchill Drive, and the largest of the three at the picnic area beside the Cordova Bay access trail. There are also a few parking spots and some street parking available along Cedar Hill Road. The route described here begins at the base of Churchill drive and circles the lower flanks of the mountain clockwise along a trail called Whittaker, summiting a sub-peak known as Little Mount Doug before climbing the steep eastern slopes to the summit and returning down the equally steep western slopes via a trail called Irvine. This route is by no means the only or best way to hike Mount Douglas; there are many different loop options in the park, and there are enough maps posted throughout that it’s quite easy to navigate. The official trails are all labeled with a difficulty rating of blue, green, or black, so that hikers won’t accidentally get stuck on a trail above their ability level. A hike up Mount Douglas (or Mount Doug, as it’s commonly referred to) could take as little as 45 minutes or up to several hours or a day, depending on the chosen route and how much time is spent enjoying the views and/or the beach.