With a mountain, several hills, three lakes connected by a couple of creeks all united by several kilometers of trails, Thetis Lake Regional Park has amenities for those who enjoy exploring outdoors. Continued protection from development since the early eighteen hundreds makes about one hundred and sixty hectares of Thetis Lake Regional Park a unique area in View Royal, B.C. as well as in the Victoria area.
Thetis Lake was flooded, in the late eighteen hundreds, to form one of the water reservoirs that supplied water to Victoria and Esquimalt communities. Although the reservoir was a short term solution for the growing communities, it limited human activities in and around the lake. Further safeguards of this unique area came in the form of a nature sanctuary in the late nineteen fifties. When designation as parkland happened, in the early nineteen nineties, the parkland had increased by four hundred and twenty-four hectares. Presently, Thetis Lake Regional Park is a diverse eight hundred and thirty four hectares, although only about six hundred and thirty-five hectares remains as a second growth forest. The park is sectioned by several trails, roadways and hydro line corridors.
Four barriers were built to enlarge the original one hectare surface area of Thetis lake into the reservoir. The main swimming beach is a near the site of an earth dam. An ephemeral creek once drained from the southern end of the lake into Esquimalt Harbour near Mill Stream. A support reservoir on the south slope of Seymour Hill was built in the mid-eighteen hundred and eighty. Named Bladderwort Pond, it contains many wetland plants and amphibians. The other two barriers include a spillway and earth dams near the north end of both the lower and upper lake where the lake now drains into McKenzie Creek and toward Prior Lake. These waters eventually flow into Mckenzie Creek then Craigflower Creek and to the ocean waters of Portage Inlet. The bridge along the Trillium Trail was added when the barrier was removed to reconnect the upper and lower lake.
The terrain in Thetis Lake Park includes ancient lava beds, seen as fractured rock, granite with glacial striations and some large boulders. The step like effect on the hill on the east side and the wall on the west side of the lower lake were formed when moving ice broke away the rock in large sections. Stroll along the woodland trails through the groves of arbutus, Garry Oak and Douglas-fir trees. Visit Prior Lake or McKenzie Lake on the northwestern area or take in Stewart Mountain and Scafe Hill in the upper areas of Thetis Lake Regional Park. On the west side of the park trails connect with Thomas Francis Freeman King Regional Park in Saanich. On the southern side of the park trails connect to Mill Hill Regional Park in Langford.
There are two main lake areas and two smaller ones in this park, as well as numerous wetland areas and hills that rise to over a hundred meters. The fifty-five hectare surface area of Thetis Lake is distinct with upper and lower areas. There are many indentations along the shoreline of both areas of Thetis Lake which makes it a fun place to explore by on a paddle board, kayak or canoe. The sandy main beach along the south shore of the lower lake is the main attraction for summer visitors to Thetis Lake Regional Park. This area of Lower Thetis Lake has facilities which include change rooms, toilets, benches, picnic tables and a seasonal concession booth. This beach area is also a good site to launch kayaks, canoes or paddle boards as it is accessible from the roadway. A second beach area on the lower lake doubles a boat launch and site for dogs to access the water year round. Prior Lake and McKenzie Lake are also part of Thetis Lake Regional Park. They are written about in different posts.
The shallow waters of Upper Thetis Lake, which lies west of the lower section, can be reached from the rocky shoreline areas near the bridge along Trillium Trail. The average depth of the water is about two and half meters. There are also many small indentations which provide addition sites to reach the water; these are mainly used by animals. A narrow channel near the north end of the lower lake connects the two areas of Thetis Lake. The bridge which crosses over the channel is along of Trillium Trail; this trail is a wide pathway that is fire access road between Highland Road and Thetis Lake Parkway.
Several kilometers of forested hiking trails bring hikers, runners and dog walkers to this park. Enjoy the shoreline plants like willows, alders, red-osier dogwood and hardhack trees. Further away from the riparian area of the lake are groves of Douglas fir, oak, arbutus, hemlock, cedar, lodge pole pine, grand fir, maple, yew, alder, big leaf maple and cottonwood trees. Since Thetis Lake Park has a range of high and low moisture soils the plant life is diverse.
The Lower Thetis Lake Trail is along the eastern side of the lower lake provides a terrific overview of the lake. This trail has long switchback hill to traverse before it connects to Trillium Trail. Trillium Trail connects with the Thetis Lake Parkway Trail on the western and southern side of the lake to complete the circuit around the lower lake shore. Much of the lake shore, while accessible by most dogs, is not used for swimming. This route is about two and a half kilometers long and can be completed in under an hour. The trail connects to the Upper Thetis Lake Trail near the junction with Trillium Trail. There are numerous desire trails throughout the park use with care so that damage to the plant and animal life is limited.
Upper Thetis Lake Trail is about three and half kilometers long and is relatively flat in comparison to the route around the lower lake as there are a few hills to negotiate. A stroll around both lakes is about five kilometers. Seaborn Trail, Bellamy Trail and Phelps Avenue Trail and Avery Court Connector Trail branch off of this pathway.
A pleasant walk is along the Trillium Trail. It lies east to west from the parking area at the dog beach to the bridge across the narrow channel connects the two halves of the lake system. This trail is wide and designed as a fire road. It is about a kilometer from the boat launch parking area to the bridge, one direction.
There are five other areas explore in Thetis Lake Park: Panhandle Trail, Seymour Hill, Craigflower Creek Trail, Bellamy Trail and Stewart Mountain Trail. The Panhandle Trail has its own section. Seymour Hill is the one hundred and forty one meter high rocky hill. The trail to the summit is about six hundred meters long and can be reached from either the east branch of the Lower Lake Trail, along the Old Entrance Road Trail, which connects with Watkiss Way, or from Lewis Clark Trail. Enjoy the springtime flowers such as white fawn lilies and shooting stars which can be seen along these foot paths and take in the vista of Thetis Lake from Seymour Hill. Along the trail find the plaque for Lewis Clark and the direction dial at the summit.
The trail along Craigflower Creek is accessed from Highland Road. This is a pleasant stroll along the riparian area of the creek for about one and a half kilometers. The north eastern section of the park connects with trails of Francis King Park by using the Panhandle Trail (see individual post).
Bellamy Trail is a fire road that connects into Thetis Lake Park on the west side of the park. The trail meanders northward toward Scafe Hill from Bellamy Road. Bellamy Trail connects with Upper Thetis Lake Trail should you head eastward from the first junction from Bellamy Road. Take the first trail on the left to bypass the swamp and look for signs that indicate Westoby Road Trailhead. Bellamy Trail crosses over an ephemeral creek to a junction that leads south toward the lake or north toward up Stewart Mountain. Continuing northward takes you past through Douglas fir forests and past the east side the quarry. The trail will lead it way back into the main trail that you started out on as well as onward to Phelps Road.
Stewart Mountain Trail is in the northwestern section of the park. This trail connect to small pathways that lead up to Scarf Hill, which is two hundred and thirty one meters high, and over Stewart Mountain, which is two hundred and seventy one meters high. This area can be accessed from Millstream Road turning onto Stewart Mountain Road or Davis Road, respectively.
Avery Court Connector Trail is a thirteen hundred meter long pathway that is beside the Trans Canada Highway yet within Thetis Lake Park. The trail is used by cyclist, dog walkers and hikers to access the dog beach parking area of the park.
Geographic location N48° 27’47” W123°28’3” for main parking lot
Thetis Lake Park can be reached from the Trans Canada Highway also called Hwy1. Turn at Six-Mile Road and continue to the main pay parking area. Thetis Lake Parkway, a tapered road, passes by this parking area and continues about a hundred meters further into a turnabout with parking for visitors with limited mobility. A further seven hundred meters along the narrow road leads to a small parking area, also payment required, with washrooms and boat ramp. Locally known as the dog beach this area is heavily used by dogs and less frequently by horses and as a boat launch site. The park can also be reached from Highland Road from Watkiss Way. To reach the trailhead located at the very end of Bellamy Road, take Millstream Road exit and turn right on Treanor Avenue. Then turn left on Bellamy Road and continue to the turnabout where there is limited parking. There are several other streets in Langford, B.C., that border on the park and have access trails including Gourman Place, Haley Rae Place, along Phelps Avenue and Avery Court, Millstream Road and Hordon Road at Western Speedway provide access to Thetis Lake Park. City buses travel along Six Mile Road to the main entrance of the park.
For a map of the hiking trails in Thetis Lake Regional Park, see the CRD Parks brochure.
There are numerous books and reports written about this park as well as few maps.