'The Malahat' is the term commonly applied to the Malahat Drive, a 25 km (15.5 mi) portion of the Trans Canada Highway 1 running along the west side of Saanich Inlet and to the region surrounding it. The road was first cut as a cattle trail in 1861, and was then upgraded to wagon road standards in 1884. It became a paved road in 1911. Its name comes from the Malahat First Nation, whose ancestors used the caves for spiritual enhancement. The Malahat Drive climbs to a summit of 356 m (1,156 ft), and the mountain is considered one of the most sacred sites on southern Vancouver Island.
Malahat is located 27 km (17 mi) north of Victoria and 34 km (21 mi) south of Duncan on the Trans Canada Highway 1.
Just 17 km (10.5 mi) north of Victoria, Goldstream Provincial Park lies amid the splendour of an old-growth temperate rain forest. There you can see a world-class salmon-spawning stream with thousands of Chum Salmon returning between October and December. During this amazing time of year you can visit the park and its always-changing Visitor Centre. The centre is named after Freeman King, an early naturalist who probably inspired more children than any other naturalist on Vancouver Island. The centre is at the mouth of the river, overlooking the Goldstream estuary, nestled among giant black cottonwoods and red alder trees. It also has a wildlife viewing platform. Hiking trails in the park take you from valley floor to ridges, even to the top of Mt. Finlayson. Enjoy two different waterfalls, an abandoned gold mine, and incredible views.
Spectacle Lake Provincial Park is located 14 km (8.7 mi) south of Mill Bay just off Highway 1. It is popular for fishing, swimming and in winter, skating. An easy hiking trail winds around the lake with much of the trail wheelchair accessible.
Goldstream Provincial Park is the site of an annual chum salmon spawning run, which draws thousands of salmon - and visitors - every year. Riverside trails and observation platforms provide extraordinary opportunities to view this natural phenomenon, which also attracts Bald eagles, who swoop down to devour the bodies of the spawned out salmon.
Trails in Goldstream Provincial Park range from easy, wheelchair accessible walks to strenuous hikes and track along creeks, through forested uplands and past abandoned gold diggings from the days of the Gold Rush. More adventurous hikers can climb to the top of one of the highest points in Greater Victoria - Mt Finlayson, a recent addition to the park in 1994. Another trail leads you to stunning Niagara Falls, which cascades 47.5 m (156 ft) down a rock cliff into a crystal clear canyon pool below.
Background Photo Credit: Destination British Columbia