Witty’s Lagoon Regional Park

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Witty’s Lagoon Regional Park is composed of a diverse number of habitats over the 560 square kilometer (56 ha/138 acre) park. With five kilometers of woodland trails, a salt marsh, meadows, and a tidal lagoon this is a comprehensive nature appreciation park. Witty’s Lagoon Park is in the District of Metchosin, a coastal community in the Capital Regional District of British Columbia. Witty’s Lagoon is wheelchair-accessible and was created in 1969 then became a CRD park in 1986. Along with its diverse habitats is the flora and fauna that accompanies the various habitats. In spring, the open meadows above the lagoon contain a brilliant array of wildflowers including camas lilies, saxifrage, and nodding onions.  Witty’s Lagoon is a stopover for migrating birds such as osprey before they attempt the 13-mile (21-km) crossing of the Strait of Juan de Fuca to the Olympic Peninsula. Other birds, such as the belted kingfisher, orange-crowned warbler, and dark-eyed junco overwinter in the shelter of the lagoon. Migratory birds that stop in the lagoon include sandpipers, turnstones, and surfbirds.   The Bilston Creek watershed forms the small valley and contains a soothing waterfall called Sitting Lady Falls. If you approach the beach at Witty’s Lagoon from the Sitting Lady Falls or main entrance, the waterfalls can be observed from several vantage points. The water from Bilston Creek spills through a cleft in the granite. The park has plenty of berry bushes in summer and apple trees in the autumn. The marshland is lined with Garry oak and arbutus trees. Stop at the information display to learn more about the natural history. There are several bridal trails in the park that are frequented by equestrians year round.

Tower Point is also part of Witty’s Lagoon Park but is separate by a tidal sandy beach area. A short trail leads to a small beach at Tower Point where the ocean has hollowed tide pools in the granite outcropping. A rich variety of marine life shelter in the pools and stand revealed at low tide. Bring your rubber boots. You’ll also be rewarded with good views from here of aptly named Haystack Islands, where long, thick strands of grass grow in the shape of old stacks. Harbor seals can be seen sunbathing just off shore from Rocky Bluff Trail on Tower point. Farther out in the strait are the Race Rocks, Canada’s most southerly point on the west coast. Hurricane Ridge in Washington States Olympic Mountains forms the plateau on the distant southern horizon.

Geographical Location N48º 23’ 21” W123º 33’ 33”

Witty’s Lagoon can be reached from Highway 1 when you exit at the Millstream Veteran Memorial Parkway exit. Head south along the Veteran Memorial Parkway to reach Latoria Road. Turn left onto Latoria Road and continue along to each Metchosin Road. Turn right onto Metchosin Road and look the parking area for Witty’s Lagoon across from the golf course.  Park near the nature house and the other which provides wheel chair access into the park. This is well-marked trailhead at Sitting Woman Falls is located opposite the Metchosin Golf Course.   Tower Point parking lot is near the junction of Olympic View Road and Bradene Road.Additional access points into the park have limited parking including along Metchosin Road, Duke Road, via the very long  staircase at the end of Witty Beach Road, Bradene Green Space and the end of Cliff Drive.

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View Royal Elementary School Green Space

Located near Craigflower Creek and Portage Inlet, View Royal Elementary School Green Space is a terrific area to enjoy outside of school hours. The school grounds are just under three hectares. The area at the front of this fifty year old building is a tri-level area. The lower area is a paved parking space for teachers, staff and parents. A dozen concrete stairs lead up to the basketball court, a ball toss basket and circles painted on the asphalt for fox and hound outdoor games. There is a chain-link fence surrounding this raised area. The concrete retaining wall around the basketball court depicts colorful images of children at play. The upper level has a playground with a wood chip base and is bordered by a grass covered area. This playground has various climbing apparatus that connect to a platform with a slide. A cedar hedge fence forms a partial barrier along Helmcken Road while the chain-link fence is decorated with fish in a colorful display. A map of North America is painted on the asphalt near this playground. A small sloped grass covered area provides a natural play area along Rudyard Road and Glenairlie Drive. Several spruce and big leaf maple trees as well as several shrubs grow in this area. Near the entrance to the school are six raised garden beds near the school.

Two other playground areas are shared with the preschool and out-of-school care facilities that are part of the school campus. A playground area, around the back of the school building, has swings, metal monkey bars and climbing apparatus. There are two squares painted into quarters and a painted spiral for hopscotch on the asphalt near this playground. A large grass covered sports field lies along the E&N Railway track and rail trail. This north side of the school grounds is framed by a row of deciduous trees. A footpath connects the green space to both Rudyard Road, via these series of multi-step concrete staircases, and to Glenairlie Drive along a paved sloped pathway that is bordered by a black berry bushes and a row of trees. The green space and building that forms the elementary school grounds are part of the school district of Victoria number sixty one. Helmcken Park, Glenairlie Park, Portage Park and View Royal Municipal Park are nearby.

Geographical location N48° 27’ 27” W123° 26’ 13”

 

View Royal Elementary School Green Space can be reached from the Trans Canada Highway (Hwy 1). Exit onto Helmcken Road and turn south. Continue past the first traffic circle to the second one, near Craigflower Creek, and exit into the school parking lot. City buses travel along Helmcken Road.

Gonzales Hill Regional Park – Victoria

Gonzales and Ross bays Victoria Gonzales Observatory Gonzales Hill Park 7

This rocky urban wilderness park of the Capital Regional District has amazing views of the Victoria area like Clover Point, Government House, Craigdarrach Castle, Mt Tolmie, Mt Douglas and the Gulf Islands. The highest point of Gonzales Hill is sixty-six meters above sea level and has views of Trial Island and Lighthouse, McNeil Bay, Gonzales Bay and across the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Across the waters are the Olympic Mountains of Washington State, USA. Further east are Mt Rainer and Mt Baker. Part of Gonzales Hill Regional Park is in the City of Victoria who shares this hill top with Oak Bay Municipality. There are few benches throughout the park with one located near the summit. The views of the stars from Gonzales Hill once were further enhanced by the unique observatory that was built in nineteen fourteen for the Dominion Meteorological Services and used by Environment Canada for the next seventy five years. There are three trail accesses into the park. The main route, about a hundred meters to the summit or the observatory, is from the parking lot off of Denison Road. It connects with the thirty-five meter pathway up from Fairfield Place. The third pathway, about sixty meters long, is called Centennial Trail and zigzags down between the down the south side of Gonzales Hill to Barkley Terrace. There are stairs along the Centennial Trail access route. This area is frequented by dog walker, hikers and runners. Walbran Park is east along Denison Road and Gonzales Beach is down the hill.

Geographic coordinates N48° 24′ 48” W123° 19′ 30″

Gonzales Hill Regional Park can be reached from Blanchard Street. Turn east onto Fairfield Road and follow along to Fairfield Place or Denison Road. At the end of Fairfield Place there is a short trail up to the observatory with a limited roadside parking across from 1968 Fairfield Place. Along Denison Road there is a parking area near the observatory as well as the cairn for Walbran. City buses travel along Fairfield Road between downtown and the University of Victoria.