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Enjoy a stroll through an urban Douglas fir and Garry oak forest to see the inspiring views of Richards Island, Fisgard Lighthouse and the distant Olympic Mountains in Washington State in Portage Regional Park, View Royal, B.C. This park lies along the north shore of Esquimalt Harbour and is along the portage route between the harbour and the Gorge Waterway. The portage route encompasses several roadways although the distance is about six hundred meters from shore to shore. This six point two hectare community park is bordered by residential homes and businesses on its east and west sides while the northern perimeter is formed by the Island Highway. Thetis Cove beach and Esquimalt Harbour are on the south side.
The CRD Rail Trail lies beside the VIA rail tracks and divides the park into an eastern and western portion. The western side of park is larger and has the majority of the trails as well as the playground and beach. The pedestrian pathways form about two kilometers of trails through the Douglas fir, Garry oak and woodland shrub forest. Enjoy the thimbleberry, blackberry and snowberry bushes as well as salal, ferns and mosses. Many bird species use this parkland as well including great blue heron, turkey vultures, common ravens, northwest crows and northern flickers. This makes it a popular place for local birders as well as dog walkers, hikers and those who enjoy a stroll in the urban forest. Richards Island is part of the parkland and is accessible by private vessels, like kayak, paddleboards or canoes. There are shallow rocky reefs around this island that has small Garry oak and Douglas fir trees. Thetis Cove has an average depth of about a meter with the deepest water along the western side of the cove near Dyke Point.
The partial paved and gravel trail to the beach starts near the town hall building and is about one hundred and seventy meters. The washrooms are also near here. There is a flight of about twelve steps down to the dirt and wood chip trail which branches south to the Thetis Cove beach and east toward the Rail Trail. The beach trail crosses over an ephemeral stream during its one hundred meter length. Thetis Cove beach is a mud flat beach area and is best accessed at higher tides. The eastern woodland trail also has some with steep stairs that makes wheelchair access difficult although the Rail Trail can be used with relative ease. A fire hydrant in the forest marks the junction of the trail which branches to the beach and to the Island Highway. There are benches and picnic tables in several locations in the parkland. A shell midden was revealed by a seasonal storm several years ago. A sign marks this location where the organic debris may depict over five thousand years of periodic usage by humans. Thetis Cove beach, at low tide, is a mud flat with a few small areas of fine sand. A secondary access directly to the mud beach is from Thetis Cove Green Space using a steep fifty meter long trail. This green space is found along View Royal Road between homes 101 and 95.
Geographical location N48° 27’ 06” W123° 26’ 1”
Portage Regional Park can be reached from the Trans Canada Highway also called Hwy 1. Turn south onto Admirals Road at the McKenzie Avenue-Admirals Road junction. Continue along Admirals Road across the bridge over the Gorge Waterway. Turn right onto the Island Highway and pass under the railway bridge and take the next left onto View Royal Avenue. The Four-Mile Pub and Restaurant is located at this intersection. The main entrance and parking area for this park is on the west near the View Royal Town Office on View Royal Avenue. Additional routes in the park are from along the Island Highway and from the CRD Rail Trail. The eastern side is accessible from Glentana Street near Ethos Place, Falstaff Place, Aldersmith Place and Hallowell Road. City buses travel along the Island Highway and View Royal Avenue.
Several documents have been produced for the Town of View Royal about this park and provide a worthwhile read.
The school is part of the Victoria School District number sixty-one and as such the school grounds are used for students during school hours. The area is landscaped with a few arbutus and Garry oak trees as well as a large grass covered field. This is the sports field that is used for soccer, baseball and rugby as well as track and field. There is a trail along the ridge of grounds that parallels the sidewalk along the Island Highway. The road forms the south border of this green space. An excellent playground is along the ridge near the fenced basketball court. The playground is on a wood chip based and a linear setup that is great for climbing and balancing. The view of Portage Inlet from the playground makes this a favorite place. The green space is near the portage route or the shortest walking access to Esquimalt Harbour via Portage Park. This portage route was used haul boats and supplies from the Inlet to the Harbour. Craigflower House and Shoreline Drive Green Space are close by. Portage Park and the E&N Rail Trail are to the west.
Parkcrest Park is natural area along the east bank of Craigflower Creek in View Royal, B.C. At one end of the two tenth of a hectare area there is an asphalt walkway that merges with a one hundred meter long gravel trail meandering down to a site that provides a view Craigflower Creek; View Royal Park lies on the west side of the creek. This split-cedar fenced trail can also be accessed from Channery Place. The second trail is a fifty meter concrete sidewalk to the creek side. The sidewalk is has chain-link fences on both sides. Garry oak, Douglas fir and some arbutus trees as well as snow berry, Oregan grape and salal bushes are seen here. Ferns and mosses are seen along the slopes of the ravine of Craigflower Creek. The Galloping Goose Trail, MacLennan Trail, View Royal Elementary School, Caton Place Park, Gull Road Green Space as well as Helmcken Centennial Park are nearby.
Geographical location N48° 27’ 41” W123° 26’ 2”
Parkcrest Park can be reached from the Trans Canada Highway Hwy1. Exit off Hwy1 onto the Helmcken Road and turn south. At the traffic circle, exit onto Vickery Road. Turn left from Vickery Road to Viewcrest Drive and follow the road along the residential homes to Levista Place. The gravel trail can be access from Viewcrest Drive near home number 11 opposite the roadway to Levista Place. The second trail access is from between homes 23 and 25 on the end the Parkcrest Drive. There is limited roadside parking along Viewcrest Drive and Parkcrest Drive. City buses travel along Helmcken Road.
The Garry oak and Douglas fir forest on the corner of Burnside Road West and Watkiss Way forms an area of one point three hectares that is called Burnside Watkiss Park in View Royal, B.C. This park has a fairly flat gravel pathway that is about one hundred and eighty meters long. Oceanspray, mosses, ferns and many other plants can be seen in the second growth forest. A bench with views of the forest is near the end of the trail. The path connects to the chain-link fence that forms western perimeter of Eagle View Elementary School Green Space and to the pathways of the townhouse complex that is northwest of the park. Stoneridge Wetlands Park, Aldersmith Park, Burnside Road Green Space, Galloping Goose Trail-View Royal, Game Nature Park, the Trans Canada Trail-View Royal and Francis View Park are nearby.
Geographic location N48° 27’ 56” W123° 26’ 42”
Burnside Watkiss Park can be reached from Hwy1, the Trans Canada Highway. Take the Burnside Road West exit to the intersection with Watkiss Way and continue along Burnside Road West. The park is on the right and the trail is about a hundred meters past the intersection. There is limited roadside parking. City buses travel along Watkiss Way.
A gravel footpath along Burnside Road West from Meadow Park Lane to the school grounds provides a walkway for school children, parents and other pedestrians. This one hundred and eighty meter pathway connects along Meadow Park Lane to make a circular stroll that passes through Aldersmith Park and Eagle View Elementary School Green Space. The pathway is under the boughs of Douglas fir and Garry oak trees and is bordered by the roadway and narrow grasslands. There are also a couple of wildlife trees, perhaps used by woodpeckers and squirrels. A small grove of catalpa trees with long slender bean pods are found along Meadow Park Lane. Several parks and green spaces are nearby such as Watkiss Way Park and Stoneridge Wetland Park.
Geographic location N48° 28’ 5” W123° 26’ 37”
Burnside Road Green Space can be reached from the Trans Canada Highway also known as Hwy1. Take the Helmcken Road exit to the Burnside Road West intersection and turn left onto Burnside Road West. Continue to Meadow Park Lane and turn left into the residential area. The foot path can be accessed from the corner of Meadow Park Land and Burnside Road West. There is limited roadside parking. City buses travel to the hospital using Watkiss Way.
Eagle View is a Victoria School District 61 elementary school in View Royal, B.C., with a wonderful playground and green space. There is limited access to the school grounds during school hours. There are trails and sidewalks onto this green space from Burnside Road West, Aldersmith Park and Talcott Road. These routes are frequented by school children and their parents before and after school. Many dog walkers and hikers stroll around the school grounds for a morning or evening walk. The maze of trails through the Douglas fir and Garry oak trees on the southwest side of the grounds were created by the school children. A small area is sectioned off with a split cedar fence. A grass covered sports field is marked with goals at either end. The asphalt around the back of the school building is marked for outdoor games such as four squares, hopscotch as well as quartered circle games like fox and hound. The playground has a wood chip base with an climbing structure that leads to platforms and a slide. The school grounds are surrounded by a chain-link fence and access gates. There are several parks that are nearby including Aldersmith Park, Watkiss Way Park and the Galloping Goose Trail.
Geographic location N48° 27’ 58” W123° 26’ 35”
Eagle View Elementary School Green Space can be reached from the Trans Canada Highway also called Hwy1. Take the Helmcken Road exit (#8) off the freeway and turn north to reach the intersection of Watkiss Way and Chancellor Avenue. Turn left onto Watkiss Way. Continue along Watkiss Way to Talcott Road. Turn right onto the short section of the roadway that leads to school; the gate might be closed. There is limited roadside parking along Talcott Road or Burnside Road West. City buses travel along Watkiss Way.