The hour-long hike up Mount Work provides excellent views of the Saanich Peninsula and a good view of Finlayson Arm. The trail head is a 30- to 45-minute drive. Take Highway 17 north to Saanich, then take Highway 17A (W. Saanich Rd.) to Wallace Drive, turn onto Wallace Drive and turn right on Willis Point Drive, and right again on Ross-Durrance Road, looking for the parking lot on the right. Signs are posted along the way. Equally good, though more of a scramble, is the hour-plus climb up Mount Finlayson in Gowland-Tod Provincial Park (take Hwy. 1 west, get off at the Millstream Rd. exit, and follow Millstream Rd. north to the very end).
Botanical Beach marks the beginning of the 47km (29-mile) Juan de Fuca Marine Trail, just one of many great wilderness and urban trails around Victoria (www.juandefucamarinetrail.com). It is a rugged, multi-day hike along the rocky coastline, with some camping along the way, and several trailheads for those who want to hike it in smaller portions. Hiking is free, but camping is C$5 per person per night.
A somewhat more accessible—and, at 10km (6 miles), much shorter—trail with equally spectacular views is the East Sooke Coast Trail, located in East Sooke Regional Park, about a 40-minute drive west of Victoria (www.eastsookepark.com).
Then there is the Galloping Goose Trail (www.gallopinggoosetrail.com), a mostly paved pathway that travels 60km (37 miles) from Sooke to Saanich and right through Victoria. It’s a rails-to-trails conversion that goes through urban, rural, and wilderness areas, ideal for hiking, running, cycling, inline skating, and even horseback riding. If you’re looking for a more strenuous sort of hike, there are the trails in Goldstream Park, especially the trek up to the top of Mount Finlayson.
For serious backpacking, go 104km (65 miles) west of Victoria on Highway 14A to Port Renfrew and the challenging West Coast Trail, extending 77km (48 miles) from Port Renfrew to Bamfield in a portion of Pacific Rim National Park. The trail was originally a lifesaving trail for shipwrecked sailors. Plan a 7-day trek for the entire route; reservations are required, so call tel. 800/435-5622 or 250/387-1642. The trail is rugged and often wet, but the scenery changes from old-growth forest to magnificent secluded sand beaches, making it worth every step. You may even spot a few whales along the way. Robinson's Outdoor Store (1307 Broad St.; tel. 250/385-3429; www.robinsonsoutdoors.com) is a good place to gear up before you go.
For something less strenuous but still scenic, try the Swan Lake Christmas Hill Nature Sanctuary (3873 Swan Lake Rd.; tel. 250/479-0211; www.swanlake.bc.ca). A floating boardwalk winds its way through this 40-hectare (99-acre) wetland past resident swans; the adjacent Nature House supplies feeding grain on request.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.