Blue Heron Park, North Saanich

For a break from the beach walks around Sidney and North Saanich head to Blue Heron Park.  This sixteen hectare parkland is connect by a pathway behind the sport fields of Parkland Secondary School forming two sections. The western section of the park, closest to McDonald Park has the sports field for soccer and baseball. This is where are two parking areas, several picnic tables and benches as well as toilets and a seasonal concession. The eastern section of Blue Heron Park has the forest grove with trails and as well as the high school’s grass covered sport fields and track oval.

For a forest stroll, walk along the parking area near highway, from the sports field,  to find the gravel and wood chip trails that lead past Parkland’s school grounds into the second growth forest. The network of trails is through the cedar, Douglas-fir, maple and alder trees. It can be muddy in the wet season so be prepared. This park is maintained by the Memorial Park Society.

Geographic coordinates near entrance N48° 40′ 21″ W123° 25′ 26″

Accessible from trails off John Road via McDonald Park Road and another trail near 10542 McDonald Park Road, the main parking area for Blue Heron Park is closer to McDonald Park.  Turn off Pat Bay Highway onto McDonald Park Road and look for the park signage and roadway, on the right, to access the park. The entrance is before the private homes and before the high school. The city bus travels along McDonald Park Road past this park.

McDonald Park – Gulf Island National Park Reserve

Part of the Gulf Island National Park Reserve, McDonald Park and its campground are set under a picturesque second growth forest of cedar, Douglas-fir, maple, oak, and Arbutus trees. Established in 1948 from the property settled by Donald McDonald, this is a central location to camp while visiting the Saanich Peninsula and Victoria area. It is close to urban amenities including the main highway, that circles part of the park, yet achieves the ambience of forest camping. It is only meters west of Tsehum Harbour and marinas.   There are forty-three car sites and six walk-in sites for camping as well as water and toilet facilities. The walking trails and gravel road meander through the forest camp sites. This park is next to Blue Heron Park and its sports fields are an easy way to extend your walk. Another option is to stroll over the McDonald Park –Wain Road Overpass to reach the trails through McDonald Park West or head north across McDonald Park Road to Marina Way to stroll by the Tsehum Harbour Lagoon Park and Nymph Point Park.

Geographic coordinates near entrance N48° 40′ 23″ W123° 25′ 27″

McDonald Park can be accessed from Pat Bay Highway (#17). Look for the signs for both the park and McDonald Park Road. The campground is about a kilometer west of the Swartz Bay Ferry Terminal and is along the route of the Lochside Trail. Turn onto McDonald Park Road then look for the entrance up the slight rise into the campground road.

For reservation and site information see the Gulf Island National Park Reserve of Canada.