Gowlland Tod Provincial Park is located on the east shore and uplands of the picturesque Saanich Inlet on Vancouver Island.
The park protects a significant part of the Gowlland Range, one of the last remaining natural areas in Greater Victoria, and a portion of the natural shoreline and uplands in Tod Inlet, which adjoins the Saanich Inlet south of Brentwood Bay near Butchart Gardens.
The presence of First Nations peoples is evident at Tod Inlet, the place of Blue Grouse. They also utilized numerous sites within the park for medicinal, ceremonial and spiritual significance. Included in this park are representative examples of the rare, dry coastal Douglas-fir habitat that features old-growth forest, wildflowers, and stands of arbutus and manzanita.
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In the afterglow of goodwill that followed Victoria’s hosting of the 1994 Commonwealth Games, local and provincial governments, as well as interested private companies, joined together to create the Commonwealth Nature Legacy. The grand purpose of the project was to further protect the remaining natural spaces that surround the ever-expanding city of Victoria, and Gowlland Tod Provincial Park was created as a result of this legacy.
Tod Inlet has long been valued for its natural beauty, ecological significance and recreational opportunities, providing a safe and secluded overnight anchorage, and marine access to the park.
Farther south down Saanich Inlet, MacKenzie Bight serves as a day anchorage and provides shore access to the park’s trail systems, including the trails in the adjacent Mount Work Regional Park.
The Gowlland Range is a rich area of biodiversity where seashore, open forest and rocky outcrops support more than 100 resident species of bird, in addition to cougar, Black-tailed Deer and the occasional Black Bear. In spring and early summer, the moss-covered knolls offer an abundant display of wildflowers.
The clear waters of Finlayson Arm are home to a rare and fascinating variety of marine life, such as cloud sponges, lamp shells, anemones, wolf eel, Killer Whales, River Otter and seals. Scuba diving opportunities from shore abound along the Finlayson Arm of Saanich Inlet.
The 1,219-hectare park contains an extensive network of hiking trails that date back to the area’s history of logging and mineral development. These old mining and logging roads in the park now serve as hiking trails today, providing more than 40 kilometres of trails, with magnificent opportunities for day trips.
There are three access points to the park, which shares a common boundary with Mount Work Regional Park. For those hikers who enjoy easygoing trails coupled with access to Tod Inlet’s shoreline, take Wallace Drive from either of its two intersections with Hwy 17A. The trailhead at the north end of the park is located on the west side of Wallace Drive opposite Quarry Lake. A second trailhead is located on Willis Point Road west of Wallace Drive and is shared with Mount Work Regional Park.
Trails provide seaside access to McKenzie Bight and climb to spectacular viewpoints and rocky outcroppings on Partridge Hills and Jocelyn Hill. The southern entrance to the park is reached by following Millstream Road north from Hwy 1 to Caleb Pike Road, then a short distance west to the trailhead. From here trails lead to Holmes Peak, Mount Finlayson, and Jocelyn Hill.
Facilities in the park include an information shelter, parking, viewpoints, toilets and picnic areas.
Gowlland Tod Provincial Park is located north of Victoria in Saanich, with the northern end of Gowlland Tod being reached on Wallace Drive. Millstream Road and Caleb Pike Road will get you to the southern end of the park.
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