Reay Estuary Green Space, North Saanich

Reay Estuary Green Space, North SaanichReay Creek flows into Bazan Bay, a sheltered bay located  between James and Vancouver islands. The Reay Estuary Green Space is located near Reay Creek and is a wonderful secluded place to catch the sunrise over James and Sidney islands. The cobble rocky shore is often covered with harvested timbers and other woody debris which makes it fun for beach walks and beach combing. Many of the rocks provide refuge for the young Dungeness and red rock crab that many of us enjoy when they are large enough to harvest. Great blue heron and many other smaller shore birds can be seen along the shoreline too. There are several points along Lochside Drive that allow access to the bay and are easier to find this place that I call Estuary Green space yet this is about exploring your backyard. There is a large willow tree near the gravel trail that leads from the roadside pull off. The trail reaches the beach south of Reay Creek estuary.
Geographic coordinates N48° 38′ 2″ W123° 24′ 27″
You can get to Lochside Drive from Pat Bay Highway. Turn off at Exit 26, the McTavish Exchange, the unique and confusing set of traffic circles designed to deal with the traffic efficiently, and follow the signs at the roundabout to take the second exit onto Lochside Drive. Continue northward on Lochside Drive toward Sidney paralleling the roadside Lochside Trail cycling pathway. This green space located between 9265 Lochside and the estuary of Reay Creek Park. The pathway to the beach is close to the pumping facility. Look for the gravel roadside pull off along Lochside Drive. The unmarked trail leads toward the beach, where there is a rough six step wooden staircase, near this parking site.

Rotary Park – Field of Dreams

Rotary Park is a busy ball park during the spring, summer and autumn months. This well designed park hosts five groomed ball diamonds as well as a small toddler playground. The baseball and softball practices and games are organized by the Peninsula Baseball and Softball Association.  Each diamond is slightly different to accommodate the various baseball and softball divisions. Ball games can be watched from the spectator stands or from one of the many picnic tables in the park.  The concession, washrooms and facility are open during events. The park is set amongst the agricultural lands of Pendray Farms and is located next to the Victoria International Airport. The walking and cycling trail called the Flight Path passes by Rotary Park along East Saanich Road.

Geographic coordinates  N48° 38’ 16″ W123° 25′ 8″

You can get to Rotary Park from Pat Bay Highway.  Turn left at Beacon Avenue and left again onto Stirling Way. Follow the road as it curves around the fence line of the airport to become Ocean Avenue West. At the junction with Canora Road turn left and look for the ball park, on the right, just after passing the sign for British Columbia Aviation Museum. Turn right onto Chipmunk Court and continue onto the large gravel parking area which is well away from the ball diamonds. Rotary Park can also be reached from Pat Bay Highway exiting at the McTavish Interchange, an unique and confusing multi-circle roadway overpass, which leads to the southern section of Canora Road.

Patricia Bay Beach Park

This wonderful waterfront park is a great stop for those who enjoy watching ships and float-planes in Patricia Bay and Saanich Inlet.  The park overlooks the seaplane docks and the Institute of Ocean Sciences and Coast Guard wharf.  An information sign shares habitat and animal descriptions for this unique marine shoreline.  A circular and nicely sloped asphalt trail along the shore of Pat Bay provides an area to stretch your legs and makes using wheeled chairs easy.  The park has toilets and picnic tables.  A small parking lot completes the park.

The shore area of the beach has a lot of large rocks with some sandy areas. Most of the seashore is a lovely mudflat, for those who enjoy them, with eel grass and marine algae.  At lower tides a multitude of small marine animals are visible.  TenTen Creek flows into the bay on the southern end of the park. The estuary of this urban creek provides habitat for a variety of fish and other organisms including coastal cutthroat trout. It is easy to extend a walk along the beach using Scoter Trail or around the airport using the Flight Path. Or if  you feel tempted go for a swim in the very refreshing shallow waters of Patricia Bay.

Geographic coordinates N48° 39′ 12″ W123° 26′ 44″

This park can be reached from Pat Bay Highway.  Turn left onto Beacon Avenue and follow the road as it turns to eventually become McDonald Park Road. At the intersection turn left onto Mills Road.  Continue on Mills Road to reach West Saanich Road. Turn left onto West Saanich Road and for the signage for Patricia Bay Beach Park and the small paved parking area near the toilets. There is limited roadside parking along West Saanich Road.

Scoter Trail

scotor trail ns2One of many birds seen in and around the waters of Patricia Bay is the sea bird called a scoter. An example is the surf scoter, Melanitta perspicillata, with its black stocky body and a couple of white spots on its head and neck. Its bill typically looks slightly swollen and may or not have an bright orange band. Scoter Trail starts near Patricia Bay Beach Park and continues northward about a kilometer along the shores of Patricia Bay. This walking trail has some paved and gravel sections as well a couple of staircases that lead up to West Saanich Road. Wsiken Creek flows into Patricia Bay just past the end of Scoter Trail. The waters of Patricia Bay may warm up enough for swimming during the summer months.

Geographic coordinates N48° 39′ 14″ W123° 26′ 44″

Scoter Trail can be reached from Pat Bay Highway.  Turn left onto Beacon Avenue and follow the road as it turns to eventually become McDonald Park Road. At the intersection turn left onto Mills Road.  Continue on Mills Road to reach West Saanich Road. Turn left onto West Saanich Road and for the signage for Patricia Bay Beach Park and the small paved parking area near the toilets. Scoter Trail can be access from the northern end of this park or from several pathways off of West Saanich Road to the north of this point. There is limited roadside parking along West Saanich Road.

Sangster Road Green Space

A lovely narrow road that lies parallel to Mills Road in North Saanich is Sangster Road. There are two gravel pathways connecting the east and west sections of he road that encourage exploration in your backyard. The easternmost green spaces contains a narrow gravel pathway that is shaded by Garry oak and maple trees with a few Douglas fir. This trail is about fifty meters. The western green space has a pathway about twice that distance and less sheltered due to the neighboring yards. This trail leads to West Saanich Road across from Patricia Bay. Other nearby greens spaces include the Flight Path which lies on the other side of Mills Road and just across West Saanich Road are Patricia Bay Beach Park and Scoter Trail.

Geographic coordinates N48° 39′ 24″ W123° 26′ 27″

This park can be reached from Pat Bay Highway.  Turn left at Beacon Avenue and follow the road as it curves to become McDonald Park Road. Turn left at the intersection with Mills Road.  Follow Mills Road over the hill and as you begin to see the Holy Trinity church and its parking lot, on the left, look for Meadland Road to the right. Turn onto Meadland Road and, almost immediately, turn left onto Sangster Road. There is limited roadside parking.

Flight Path, Victoria International Airport

flight pathWatch a military helicopter or a 737 land or take off along the Flight Path, a wonderful 9 300 meter paved walking and cycling trail that circles the entire Victoria International Airport property.  There are several excellent places to see the activities of the small flight school aircraft as well as private aircraft. Give yourself plenty of time as further distractions along the trail include the ocean views of Patricia Bay and Saanich Inlet, the historical building and lands around Holy Trinity Church and the rural agricultural lands of North Saanich. The Flight Path is an excellent trail to use to explore your backyard. This path pass by Rotary Park with its four excellent baseball diamonds and Phillip Brethour Park along Ocean Avenue in Sidney which has a baseball diamond. The trail also crosses over two urban creeks. Reay Creek drains eastward toward Bazen Bay from the land around the airport. This creek hosts a population of coho salmon.  TenTen Creek drains westward into Patricia Bay from the Glen Meadow Golf Course and airport areas. TenTen Creek contains coastal cutthroat trout.

Geographic coordinates  N48° 40′ 37″ W123° 28′ 48″ to Pat Bay Beach Park

You can get to the Flight Path from Pat Bay Highway. Follow the highway out to Sidney and turn left at Beacon Avenue and continue as the road curves to become McDonald Park Road. At the intersection turn left onto Mills Road. Continue along Mills Road to West Saanich Road where parking can be found near Patricia Bay Beach Park. Since the pathway parallels Beacon Avenue, Mills Road, West Saanich Road, Willingdon Road, Canora Road,  Ocean Avenue and Stirling Way there are many other options to use as starting point to explore the Flight Path. Such as parking in the gravel parking are near Rotary Park just off of Canora Road.

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.