Hey adventure junkies! Who else is loving this crisp fall weather? If that’s you, then get ready to lace up your hiking shoes and hit the trails with me around my beautiful hometown of Victoria.
Listen, if you’ve followed me for even a minute, you know I’m a huge supporter of moving our bodies for health (catch up on why movement is so important here), but if you need another reason to move and you love breathtaking views with a sprinkle of oceans and mountains, then you’ve come to the right place. I’m sharing my top favourite hikes that will leave you in awe while fulfilling your daily steps count. Don’t worry, you don’t need to be an athlete to do these hikes, all you need is a love of fresh air or the outdoors and a craving for some peace and love.
One of the reasons I love hiking is that being out in nature allows the escape from the distractions and noise of modern life. It provides us with an opportunity to disconnect from technology and reconnect with ourselves. With each step we take, we leave behind the stresses and worries of daily life, allowing our minds (and lungs) to clear and our thoughts to wander. So grab a water bottle and camera, and get ready for a (sweaty) adventure.
As you start your hiking adventure here in Victoria, something you’re going to notice right away is how easy it is to connect with nature on a deep and soulful level. These trails offer more than just physical challenges; they provide a gateway to serenity and tranquillity. The sights and sounds of the surrounding ocean and old-growth forest will transport you to a world far removed from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
My top hikes to try in and around Victoria
Let’s start right inside the city with an easy hike you can get done before or after a fun brunch. Mount Doug is a gorgeous space filled with grand old trees, the perfect place for a barefoot walk and filled with enough crisp clean forest air to detox your lungs from all those Zoom meetings. At about 4km round trip and an of elevation 205 meters, Mount Doug offers stunning 360-degree views of the area around Victoria, including Haro Strait, Saanich, and downtown Victoria. The paths at Mount Doug will give you the choice of a gradual hike up along the paved roadway, or more of a choose-your-own-adventure through the trails. Either way, you’re going to find yourself connecting with nature and experiencing some major selfcare.
Another trail that you can find right in the city is Mount Tolmie, and here again, you’ll have some choices. It’s a great hike from the bottom of Mount Tolmie to the top with twists, turns and plenty of forks in the trail, or you can park at one of the lots on the mountain and hike around the trails from there. Mount Tolmie is a bit more of an open-space hike (think less forest and more rugged mountain path) but these trails still offer hikers a chance to experience incredible cityscapes and wildlife with epic 360-degree views of Victoria. It’s a great place to bring a camera, book or journal and let your thoughts escape the rat race.
While Victoria’s hiking trails certainly offer pause from the chaos of daily life, they also present an opportunity for selfcare in the way of personal growth and self-discovery. Heading off to one of these trails after a long day at work, on a lunch break, or to start your weekend is easy to fit into any schedule and gives you a chance to push your limits, find a bit of peace, or conquer other challenges you never thought possible.
The raw beauty of the Pacific Northwest can continue to be found just 20km north of downtown Victoria. Goldstream Park gives you a number of different trails and degrees of difficulty packed with trees, rivers, mountains, and waterfalls. As you wander along the towering ancient trees, admire the Goldstream River (most likely filled with salmon, especially if you’re visiting around the fall time), then head under the highway through the tunnel to find an Insta-worthy waterfall, the rhythmic crashing of the falling water against the mossy cliffs creates a zen-like soundtrack, inviting you to slow down, breathe in the crisp air, and fully immerse yourself in the moment. In these peaceful settings, you’ll find ample opportunities to pause, lean against a moss-covered rock, and reflect on the wonders of the natural world. If you’re not into waterfalls, head straight to the breathtaking ocean vista (aka the Eagle Estuary) where flocks of Eagles have been known to sit and wait in the treetops for salmon. It’s an incredible place to sit and relax after all that hiking!
For those heading a bit further out of town (only a 45-minute drive north), I’d recommend the swing set hike, (aka Old Baldy). Nearly 3km there and back with an elevation of 208 meters, the view and absurdly fun swing set is 100% selfcare and Insta-worthy! Surrounded by gorgeous Arbutus trees, and an unmatched view of Shawnigan Lake, you’ll wonder why it’s not packed with people. Bring a picnic lunch, because you won’t want to rush back. This is such a magical place to sit and meditate, journal or just place your hands on the earth and recharge. *there are two ways up Old Baldy; one is a steep literally breathtaking way (safer to go up than down) and the other is much more relaxed but less of a view (better on the way back).
Hiking trails in and around Victoria offer much more than just a walk in the woods. They provide a gateway to both inward and outward journeys. The stunning landscapes and peaceful moments allow for a profound connection with nature, while the physical challenges you may encounter offer opportunities for personal growth and self-discovery.
Just a little further north from Old Baldy, you’ll find Little Qualicum Falls. It’s an often overlooked hike due to its close proximity to Cathedral Grove, but do not pass it by. The stunning landscapes and peaceful moments allow for an incredible place to dive deep into selfcare and include one of the most striking opportunities to connect with nature on a deep and spiritual level. As you wander (may I suggest barefoot) through the hundred-year-old, old growth and verdant meadows, a sense of peace will wash over your weary mind. The sights and sounds of the surrounding wilderness will transport you to a world far far away.
These hikes also offer solitude and the chance for introspection. In the quiet of the forests and beside the crashing waterfalls, ponder on the deeper questions of life and gain a new perspective on our existence. The connection with nature serves as a reminder of our place in the larger tapestry of the world and instills a sense of humility.
These journeys can hold a metaphorical significance for the challenges we face in our everyday lives. Just as we conquer the steep slopes and rocky paths on these trails, we can overcome the obstacles and hardships that come our way. The physical exertion and mental resilience required on these hikes mirror the strength and determination we need to navigate life’s challenges and with each breath, you leave behind a little bit of self-doubt and fear. With each challenging section overcome, you’ll find an inner strength you never knew existed.
I hope you’ve found that the hiking trails in Victoria offer not only a chance to connect with nature but also an opportunity for selfcare, personal growth and self-discovery. They challenge us, teach us resilience and remind us to take time for ourselves and our breath. These trails serve as a metaphor for the challenges we face in our lives and offer a space for solitude and reflection.
So, lace up your boots, venture into the wilderness I call home, and let the trails of Victoria (and area) guide you on a transformative journey of discovery.