Elk/Beaver Lake Regional Park
The Elk & Beaver Lake Trail is one of many beautiful lakeside trails in Victoria. From the convenient parking lot the trail is mostly flat, gravel or dirt, densely forested at times and runs around both Elk and Beaver Lakes to complete a 10k circuit. The park is very popular for swimming, picnicking, windsurfing, boating, fishing and rowing. Though it can get busy the large size of the park disperses people quite well.
If you are running here you will find the trails around the lake peaceful and quiet even if the sandy beaches are crowded and noisy. Like other BC Provincial Parks there are excellent toilet facilities at several points along this beautiful and relaxing trail. Concession stands are located at both ends of the park as well as water sport equipment rental shops at the Elk Lake end of the park.
A connecting trail extends from the north end of the park leading to Bear Hill Regional Park. Bear Hill sits high above the surrounding area and has beautiful views of Saanich Peninsula as well as the more distant San Juan and Gulf Islands. On a clear day you can easily spot Mount Baker in the United States.
Depending on what you want to do in the park with dictate where you park. The Beaver Lake parking area is large and easy to get to(see directions below). Beaver Lake is very nice with a huge beach in a lush forest with trails going in either direction.
Elk Lake has a couple of main parking areas. If driving from Victoria you will see a left turn lane and sign to the park. This parking area is a great central location and home to the Elk Lake Rowing Centre(see map below). Additionally there are other parking areas around the lake. The one off Sayward Road is where much of the summertime activity takes place. Food outlets and water-sport rentals shops operate here.
Elk/Beaver Lake Regional Park - Directions
For the Beaver Lake entrance to the park from Victoria take the Royal Oak Drive exit off of the Pat Bay Highway(exit right then turn left onto Royal Oak Drive), then turn right onto Elk Lake Drive. After about 1k you will see the Elk/Beaver Lake Provincial Park sign on your left. There are two large parking areas and all of them are convenient for running the 10k circle route. The 2nd parking area might be preferable for running though as it avoids the often chaotic, main beach parking area. For the Elk Lake entrance to the park you just have to continue north on the Pat Bay Highway and you will see Elk Lake on your left. Turn into the dedicated turn lane to the parking near Eagle Beach or continue to the Sayward Road intersection at the end of the lake. Turn left onto Sayward and you will find parking near food outlets and the windsurf rentals gear shop.
More Trails Near Elk/Beaver Lake Regional Park
Bear Hill Regional Park is a nice hill trail, just north of Elk/Beaver Lake in Saanich. It is an easy 2k hike to the summit where the views are sensational. From the trailhead to the summit only takes about 20-30 minutes. High up on the Saanich Peninsula you can see the Gulf Islands and even the San Juan Islands in the United States. The technically active, and alarmingly close volcano, Mount Baker in Washington State is very visible as well on a clear day. The trail to Bear Hill is easy and runs through a beautiful forest of Douglas fir trees that lead to the unexpected grove of Garry oak trees at the summit. From Bear Hill's 220 metre elevation you may be able to spot other, distant Victoria mountains. If you look toward downtown Victoria you should be able to make out Mount Douglas and possibly Mount Tolmie. The beautiful wilderness hiking trails in Francis King Park take you past massive, old-growth Douglas Fir trees. Some estimated to be as old as 500 years and the Elsie King interpretive trail gives beautiful descriptions of the forest around you. There are over 11 kilometres of trails in the park and some of them connect to the adjacent, Thetis Lake Regional Park. Thetis Lake Park then connects to the beautiful Mill Hill Regional Park, combining these three beautiful parks into one, massive, interconnected hiking paradise. Francis King contains the massive old growth forest, Thetis the beautiful lakeside trails, and Mill Hill the wonderful mountain views out to the ocean around Victoria. Gowlland Tod Provincial Park is a beautiful park running along the Saanich Inlet. Accessible from Goldstream Park at one end and Brentwood Bay, near Buchart Gardens at the other. From beautiful ocean views of the inlet to wonderful mountain views from Mount Work, this park has a great variety of characteristically Victoria hiking. Mount Work is a popular hiking trail in Gowlland Tod and the most challenging trail at 5k from trailhead to summit. Gowlland Tod Provincial Park is quite large, spread out and the trails so varied, that you feel far from the city. The trails and views to and along Finlayson Arm are amazing and breathtakingly serene. An amazing park, so convenient to Victoria. And much like most other Victoria area parks, astoundingly quiet and wild. Naturally peaceful and astoundingly beautiful. Lone Tree Hill Regional Park has a beautiful panoramic view from its summit. The hike is fairly short and relaxing at just 1.6k trailhead to summit. Expect to hike for under 30 minutes to reach the viewpoint. The views for such a short hike are quite amazing. You can see the distant Malahat, Victoria as well as the very distant Olympic Mountains in the US. Dogs are welcome in the park, however, bikes, camping and fires are not. From Victoria take Douglas Street and continue to the Trans Canada Highway, after 12k take exit 14 toward Langford/Sooke/Highlands, keep right at the fork and follow the signs for Millstream Rd N, after 8.2k look for the Lone Tree Hill Regional Park sign on your right. Mill Hill Regional Park is a well hidden though wonderfully short hike to amazing views of Victoria, Esquimalt and the Western Communities. The hike is only 15 minutes to the summit with a branching trail that leads to Thetis Lake Park. This is a remarkably seldom hiked park in Victoria. It is rare to see anyone on the trail or at the beautiful summit. The views are amazing. What makes them even more amazing is that the views look as though you are on a much higher mountain than the small and short hike that brought you to this great summit. The hike is only 15 minutes to the summit with a branching trail that leads to Thetis Lake Park. or Mount Doug as it's locally known is a remarkably easily accessible park with both 360 degree mountain views as well as a beautiful beach. The beach and mountain are connected both by trails and roads allowing for a quick and beautiful visit by car or a longer, interesting and varied hike on foot among the huge Douglas Fir and Cedar trees. Parking is available in four areas. At the summit of Mount Doug (accessible by car only after 12pm daily), near the shores of Cordova Bay, at the gate, at the base of the road to the peak as well as further along the park at Glendenning Road. Among the spider web of trails on Mount Doug there is quite an amazing cave. Long abandoned from the old mining days it runs nearly 20 metres from the tiny entrance. Don't forget to bring a flashlight. las Mount Tolmie is another beautiful, easily accessed mountain in Victoria with 360 degree views.