Horth Hill Regional Park, a 29-hectare hilltop park located on the northern end of the Saanich Peninsula, has some of the oldest rock on Vancouver Island. The last of the glaciers passed over the Saanich Peninsula nearly 15,000 years ago, scouring out the surrounding area and leaving behind residual hills called monadnocks.
Horth Hill is one of these monadnocks, the result of the smoothing and rounding action of ice, over 1000 metres thick! Grooves and polished surfaces, and the thinness of soiling adhering to the rounded rocks bear witness to the action of the ancient glaciers.
You can enjoy a vigorous climb to the summit, passing through varied forest communities; western red cedar, mature Douglas-fir and Garry oak. Keep an eye out for hummingbirds and swallowtails, as well as the American Robin.
There are numerous points along the trail that offer panoramic views of the Saanich Peninsula, the Gulf Islands, and the San Juan Islands.
Before European contact, the territory of the Saanich Indians included the shores of the peninsula. Here, as with other Coast Salish People, the Saanich moved with the seasons. The rhythms of the wind and tide determined the best time to net salmon or to collect shellfish.
In winter, the Saanich people retreated to the protected waters of Coles Bay, where they built permanent cedar dwellings. Then, as part of the Fort Victoria treaties in the early 1850’s, the entire Saanich Peninsula, except for village sites and enclosed fields, was traded for 336 wool blankets.
The forest communities of Horth Hill are dominated by Western Red Cedar, Douglas-fir and Garry Oak. At the bottom of the hill the Western Red Cedar community begins, forming a closed canopy where very little ground cover survives. On the edge of this community, Broadleaf Maple begin to grow, supporting mosses, lichens and licorice ferns on their trunks and branches.
Facilities include washrooms and picnic areas.
Horth Hill Regional Park is located north of Victoria, and west of the Swartz Bay ferry terminal, on Southern Vancouver Island.
From the Pat Bay Highway (Hwy 1), go west on Wain Road and then right onto Tatlow Road, which leads to the park entrance. Allow approximately 30-45 minutes driving time from Victoria.
Take BC Transit bus #71, #72, or #73 from Victoria to McDonald Park Drive at the Pat Bay Highway or take BC Transit bus #77 from Sidney (Monday to Friday only) to West Saanich Road and Tatlow Road. The park is approximately a 2-kilometre walk from either bus stop. Contact BC Transit for schedule information.
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