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Panoramic view from the south ridge of Mount Douglas overlooking a suburban area with the ocean in the distance, under a blue sky with scattered clouds.

PKOLS – Mount Douglas Park in Greater Victoria

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Activity:
Hike, Park
Difficulty:
Options For Everyone
Location:
Victoria
Time:
2hrs
Distance:
4km

Activity:

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playground
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Accessibility:

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Highlights Include:

Info Map

PKOLS - Mount Douglas Park in Greater Victoria

Where to this weekend, Vancouver Island: PKOLS - Mount Douglas Park

Known by the locals as Mount Doug, it’s a popular park with a beach, playground, picnic areas, and washrooms. But what makes it stand out from other parks in Greater Victoria is that it’s the largest urban forest in the area and offers visitors a chance to explore 21km of trails that wind through its 188 hectares. 

Visitors can start their journey from sea level and climb to the summit through four levels of habitat zones, with varying trail difficulty, the higher you go, the more challenging the trail becomes.

Hikers enjoying the panoramic view from the summit of Mount Douglas, overlooking the town and distant hills as the sun sets.

Don’t let the name Mount Douglas fool you. The trails can be challenging, but they aren’t long. It turns out Mount Douglas is more of a large hill that still offers breathtaking views.

Hiking Mount Doug 4-Zones Easy to Moderate 

Mount Douglas Park is layered into four zones, each offering a unique experience with diverse ecosystems and trail difficulty. As you gain elevation, the plant life can change drastically, as does the trail difficulty. Here’s a breakdown of the zones and what to expect when climbing to the summit of Mount Douglas.

Habitat & Hiking Zones

An informative graphic showing the habitat zones of Mount Douglas Park, highlighting areas like the Gary Oak Rock Outcrop and Coastal Zone.

A serene Mount Douglas Beach strewn with driftwood, the calm sea touching the shore, under a soft, cloud-filled sky.

Layer 1 – Coastal Zone 

Trails Short, easy trail from the main parking lot to the beach with a staircase right before reaching the sand.

The Coastal Zone is the smallest of the four layers. The trail to the beach can be found across from the main washrooms. Follow the signs, and you’ll come across a set of stairs that will lead you down to the beach. 

Your experience at the beach will depend on the tide. When we last visited the area, it was during high tide, and the beach was tiny, with little to explore other than a section of sand with driftwood. 

During low tide, you can walk along the shoreline, which features eroding cliffs and large pebble beaches.

A peaceful trail leading from the parking lot of Mount Douglas, lined with towering cedar trees and a carpet of fallen leaves.

Layer 2 – Lower Forest

Trails – The trails through the lower forest are wider, easy to navigate and well-marked. They skirt along the edge of the east and south sections of the park.

The Lower Forest has a dense, lush canopy consisting of Douglas-fir, big-leaf maple, and western red cedar trees. Douglas Creek meanders through this peaceful rainforest as it leads to the ocean.

Along the easier lower trails, you may encounter occasional obstacles such as roots or rocks. They are generally not suitable for strollers or buggies.

Twisted Garry oak trees beside a wooden fence capturing the unique flora of Mount Douglas Park.

Layer 3 – Upper Forest

Trails – As you reach a high elevation, the trail can follow natural contours around trees and other obstacles. It is often more narrow and can have prolonged elevation gains. 

The Upper Forest provides a transition from the lower forest and the rock outcrops of the mountain summit. 

At this level, you will see more arbutus trees, a Douglas fir forest, and a mix of a few big-leaf maple and Garry oak trees. The shrubs and understorey growth of Oregon grape ocean spray, snowberry, and roses support an extensive bird population. 

A hiker ascending the rocky south ridge trail of Mount Douglas, showcasing the rugged terrain and sparse vegetation.

Layer 4 – Garry oak & rock outcrops

Trails – As you get closer to the top, you will find more challenging trails with steep, narrow paths, traversing loose rock surfaces with exposed drops. Sturdy hiking shoes are recommended. 

The rock outcrops at the higher elevation become exposed, offering magnificent views and less vegetation. However, intermingled throughout these dry, exposed rocky bluffs are Garry oaks, meadow grasses, and spring wildflowers. 

Tips and Suggestions

Amenities: The main parking lot has clean washrooms with running water. During the summer months, seasonal porta potties are located at the top and in one of the smaller parking lots.

Dogs: The trails are dog-friendly but must be kept in control and on the trail.
Pets are not permitted in the Picnic Area, Playground and Beach or adjacent to the washroom buildings from May 1 to Aug 31.

Parking:  The parking lot is large but does fill up on weekends and other busy times. There is the main parking lot, and two small ones are located around the park.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Can I drive to the summit of Mount Douglas?
Yes, you can drive to the summit of Mount Douglas. However, vehicle access is restricted from dusk until after 12:00pm daily to allow for pedestrian and bike use.

Are there any entrance fees for visiting Mount Douglas Park?
No, there are no entrance fees to visit Mount Douglas Park. It is open to the public and free of charge.

Is the park dog-friendly?
Yes, Mount Douglas Park is dog-friendly, but specific regulations are in place. Dogs must be on a leash in certain areas and are restricted in specific areas from May 1 to Aug 31. Be sure to follow park signage and local bylaws regarding pets.

How challenging are the hiking trails?
The hiking trails at Mount Douglas Park vary in difficulty from easy to challenging. Some trails are gentle and suitable for families, while others are steep and more suited for experienced hikers. The park offers trails for all fitness levels.

Can I have a picnic in the park?
Yes, picnicking is a popular activity in Mount Douglas Park. There are designated picnic areas with tables. Remember to pack out all your garbage and leave no trace.

Is there a parking fee?
There is no fee for parking at Mount Douglas Park. However, parking spaces can be limited, especially on weekends and holidays, so consider arriving early or using alternative transportation.

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The Summit Experience at Mount Douglas Park

Rugged trail leading to the summit of Mount Douglas with a bench and clear skies above, presenting a scenic hiking challenge.

At its highest point, Mount Douglas is 225m (738ft). There are two ways to reach the top.

Hiking Trails

There are a few ways to get to the top, all of which start off easy and get more difficult as you gain elevation through the zones. Although it is not a difficult hike for most people who have adequate gear and are in good shape, the trails towards the top are not easy, as they get steep, and the footing is loose, so you may have to do some basic scrambling. 

Your hike may look different depending on which route you take, but here’s a rough idea of what to expect when reaching the top from the main parking lot.

Length: 5.5 km
Time: 2hrs
Elev. Gain: 229m

Other than the road up, there are no easy trails that reach the top of Mount Doug.

The upper parking lot at Mount Douglas, featuring a viewing area where people are gathered, overlooking a dramatic sky and the distant horizon.

Drive or Bike to the top – Churchill Drive

The road opens to cars at 12:00 p.m. and closes just after dusk, allowing pedestrians and bikes to safely use it during the morning hours.

The narrow paved road starts at Cedar Hill Road and takes you to a concrete patio lookout with benches and bike racks. The parking lot is small, but there are reserved handicap spots, making the view accessible to everyone.

The lookout faces southwest, making it a wonderful place to watch sunsets. However, to experience the full 360-degree, you can hike up a short trail to the octagon lookout. 

Wide-angle view from the Mount Douglas summit, featuring the directional compass and protective walls with stunning views of the sky and landscape.

What is the Concrete octagon at the top of Mount Douglas?

Reaching the summit of Mount Douglas offers a unique opportunity not found in many places in Southern Vancouver Island. Few places offer unobstructed views where you get amazing 360-degree views of the Salish Sea and the Saanich Peninsula.

At the summit, there is a strange-looking concrete octagon. Why is this here? Well, the reason for the lookouts unique shape goes back to WWII.

1939, the military built a radio direction-finding tower in that exact location. This wooden structure housed a VHF antenna and receiver and was constructed with eight walls using an octagonal concrete foundation.

1950, the tower was removed and replaced with a wooden observation deck. 

In 1960, the current concrete structure was added using the eight-sided foundation. Although the 60s Brutalist design looks out of place and maybe outdated, it’s still as solid as ever sitting up at the top of the hill, offering some protection from the wind and a fantastic 360-degree view. 

Credits – http://jproc.ca/ve3fab/mount_douglas.html

Nice hike to the top, moderate difficulty, not for newbies tho as there are some hard sections. Top has very nice viewing platform. Or you can drive to the top to see the view!

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Activities Beyond Hiking

Beyond its trails, Mount Douglas Park offers numerous other recreational opportunities. The park’s beaches are perfect for a quiet afternoon surrounded by trees, while its open fields provide ideal spots for picnicking, bird watching and group activities. The facilities include picnic areas, playgrounds and restrooms, making it a comfortable visit for all.

Sunlit picnic area in Mount Douglas Park with several wooden picnic tables amid large evergreen trees, suggesting a peaceful spot for outdoor meals.

Things to Know before you visit

There are some park rules you should be aware of before visiting.

Dogs are not permitted in the Picnic Area, Playground and Beach or adjacent to the washroom buildings from May 1 to Aug 31. Dogs must be on a leash when within 10m of any Saanich Playground

Dog owners are required to pick up after their dog and ensure dogs remain on the trail.

Cycle only on paved roads, no cycling allowed on park gravel or bare earth trails.

No smoking, as per the CRD Clean Air Bylaw, is permitted in any park or public space. 

Many fragile ecosystems exist within the park – from the rock outcrops at the summit to down between the tide lines on the beach. Please treat PKOLS with respect and preserve these sensitive habitats.

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History - The name PKOLS

Pre 1800s – For thousands of years, local First Nations People have lived in the area
1843 – Fort Victoria, the wood for its cedar pickets came from this hill and at the time was known as “Hill of Cedars”.
1858 – Governor James Douglas established this park as a Government Reserve.
1889 – the City of Victoria took over the land from the Province, and it became Mount Douglas Park.
1992 – Saanich began looking after managing the park.
2022 – the park’s name was officially restored to PKOLS. PKOLS is the name of Mount Douglas in SENĆOŦEN and is an important place for the W̱SÁNEĆ people. 

Restoration and Volunteering

Volunteers with the Saanich Pulling Together Volunteer Program and the Since 1991, Friends of Mount Douglas Park Society has been working collaboratively to restore natural areas by removing 50 hectares of invasive species and planting thousands of native trees and shrubs.

Getting to Mount Douglas Park

DirectionGoolge Maps

Mount Douglas Park is located on South Vancouver Island in British Columbia and is easily accessible from Victoria and other parts of Saanich. For those driving, ample parking is available, making it convenient to visit for a few hours or a full day. 

A spacious parking lot at Mount Douglas Park, flanked by dense trees, filled with cars and a camper van indicating popular visitor interest.

Parking

Main Parking lot – Large paved parking lot with many amenities and access to the Beach

Churchill Drive Parking Lot – Good place to park if you want to bike or walk up Churchill Drive to reach the summit

Blenkinsop Road Parking Lot – Small parking lot with access to Little Mount Douglas

Bus

BCTransit Bus Route 39 goes directly to Mount Doulas Park

 

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FAQ:

Can I drive to the summit of Mount Douglas?
Yes, you can drive to the summit of Mount Douglas. However, vehicle access is restricted from dusk until after 12:00pm daily to allow for pedestrian and bike use.

Are there any entrance fees for visiting Mount Douglas Park?
No, there are no entrance fees to visit Mount Douglas Park. It is open to the public and free of charge.

Is the park dog-friendly?
Yes, Mount Douglas Park is dog-friendly, but specific regulations are in place. Dogs must be on a leash in certain areas and are restricted in specific areas from May 1 to Aug 31. Be sure to follow park signage and local bylaws regarding pets.

How challenging are the hiking trails?
The hiking trails at Mount Douglas Park vary in difficulty from easy to challenging. Some trails are gentle and suitable for families, while others are steep and more suited for experienced hikers. The park offers trails for all fitness levels.

Can I have a picnic in the park?
Yes, picnicking is a popular activity in Mount Douglas Park. There are designated picnic areas with tables. Remember to pack out all your garbage and leave no trace.

Is there a parking fee?
There is no fee for parking at Mount Douglas Park. However, parking spaces can be limited, especially on weekends and holidays, so consider arriving early or using alternative transportation.

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Modified: April 2, 2024
Last Visit: December 8, 2023

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