Hiking Trails

“Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt.” – John Muir

Following a recent hike, I felt the urge to share an aspect of our tiny Saanich Peninsula that brings to me so much pleasure, again and again:  our hiking trails.
Just seeing the photo makes me smile!
Gowlland Tod Provincial Park is one of my favourites and offers a variety of terrain and distances.
Run with me along just a handful of my fave trails, using photos, starting with the Timberman Trail.
Our first stop overlooks Squally’s  Reach which offers perfect rocks to set up a picnic.

Carrying along the Timberman Trail, we continue south to Jocelyn Hill, and then to Holme’s Peak.
The waters of Finlayson Arm lie far below this serene spot.  Isn’t this worth all that panting?!

Utterly beautiful, in all seasons.

Gowlland Tod Provincial Park has about 25 km of trails of varying levels of difficulty.

The Park stretches from the south end of the Saanich Inlet north to the town of Brentwood Bay and the Butchart Gardens.

Now, let’s go a few km north of Butchart Gardens and Brentwood Bay to John Dean Provincial Park.
Like others who live in or near Dean Park Estates, I feel as if this Park is my personal playground!
  
Both this trail and the moss-covered trees are so typical of this Park.
We start up Dean Park Road (my daily running route!) and very soon we take the first trail on the right which is the Barrett Montfort Trail.

From Victoria Capital Region’s naturalists, I’ve learned that this Park is home to scores of different mosses and ferns.
What a pleasure to see them remain green, no matter the season!

A spur off the trail takes us to the West Viewpoint where we look west and north over the Saanich Inlet which we already saw, albeit from a much different viewpoint, on our visit to Gowlland Tod Prov’l Park.

Another spur off this Surveyor’s Trail takes us to Cy’s Viewpoint where we look west across the Saanich Inlet to Mill Bay.

The trails pass by pools of water — or dry wadi, depending what season we’re here — the most notable one being the Emerald Pool, below.

An amazing reflecting pool!
Decades ago, determined hikers built rock stairways which can raise our pulse significantly if we tackle them briskly — or is that a heart-pump of gratitude?!

We loop around the southwest arm of the Surveyor’s Trail and find a recently installed bench at this viewpoint looking south over the Saanich Inlet.
John Dean Provincial Park protects one of the last stands of old-growth Douglas fir and Garry oak on the Saanich Peninsula.
Trees thrive here, as witnessed by the size of this random maple leaf.
This Park is set on Mt Newton, so we encounter definite elevation shifts as we hike.
We can go to the summit, but frankly, the viewing platform there offers an underwhelming view.
Much preferred, in my view (pun totally intended!) is the vista from Pickles Bluff.
We’ve hiked here as part of a larger group, or a handful of friends, or a bunch of my family, or just a couple of us, once with our little Yorkie (carried!), and I also come here by myself……….Pickles Bluff is certainly not a private hideaway, but I always find a personal getaway space here.
Raptors soar majestically and ominously around the curve of Mt Newton.  The Bluff overlooks our local Peninsula below, the Gulf Islands beyond, and the Cascade Mountains in the distance on a clear day.

Recently we walked from our current home in Dean Park Estates to our under-construction house off Land’s End Road at the very northern tip of the Peninsula.
We estimated the distance to be about 13 km and it took us 2 hours and several litres of water!
My sister and her husband were part of this trek.  Our route wound around YYJ, Victoria International Airport, which has a 10 km paved “trail” around the perimeter.  In the background is Patricia Bay.
Descending from the foot of Mt Newton in Dean Park, we were thankful to walk on flat terrain……until we hit Horth Hill, which is another popular hiking spot on the northern tip of the Peninsula.


This (above) is a view from Horth Hill, looking back (south) from whence we came, over the Peninsula.
This is a view from Horth Hill looking southeast toward Sidney.

The terrain on Horth Hill varies, from some rocky clambering at the very top, to typical woodland trails.

Okay, let’s catch our breath!  We have one more stop on this tour.  Yes, it requires an ascending hike!

We’re going up Lone Tree Hill!  I tell my out-of-town guests that this is the biggest bang for their hiking buck!
For a less-than-30-minute persistently ascending hike, you get a spectacular view!

We can see that Lone Tree Hill is less than a kilometre from Gowlland Tod Provincial Park, so we’ve come full circle on the Peninsula.

The view from the top of Lone Tree Hill is astounding — 360 degrees of a vista!
The camera doesn’t do the view justice at all!
We can see Victoria to the southeast, and beyond that, freighters lying offshore in the Juan de Fuca Strait, and the Olympic Mountains in Washington State beyond that.
To the east we see the USA’s San Juan Island.
To the west lies the Malahat and western Vancouver Island.
And close at hand are the bald eagles, hawks and turkey vultures soaring patiently and deadly.
The park is named after a wizened Douglas fir tree which was more than two centuries old.
On a sunny summer day, we seek the shade of the few arbutus trees up here.
In the winter, we appreciate shelter from the wind provided by the many rock outcroppings.
But always, we marvel anew at some aspect of this magical place.
I can’t help it — I LOVE this place!

See the world from another view!
Hike it! 

 

Patio Gardens

“Earth laughs in flowers.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

So, in search of Earth’s laughter, we visited Patio Gardens on West Saanich Road and we found it in spades!
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The vibrant colours of flowers and greenery can uplift any spirits, particularly as daylight hours shrink.

patio-gardens13The owner, Yvonne, has been gardening for more than a couple of decades.  In earlier days the business was mostly cut flowers.  Now the specialty is hanging baskets and container gardening, suitable for patios and decks, indoor containers and anywhere you’d want to have live greenery or a garden feature.
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And in our moderate west coast climate, water garden features can run year-round!patio-gardens15                   patio-gardens1

Patio Gardens features Christmas plantings right now, so there are lots of poinsettias and greenery. patio-gardens14In a spacious classroom setting, floral and gardening workshops are offered, and wreath-making is a popular one right now.patio-gardens4

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The store offers plenty of decorating and gift ideas as well.
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It’s a delight to visit Patio Gardens during this cheerful Christmas season.
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And I can only imagine how Patio Gardens will remake itself in the springtime!
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Patio Gardens
6536 West Saanich Road, Victoria
250-896-8338

www.patiogardensvictoria.ca

Mon – Sat  9 – 5:30 pm,  Sun & holidays 10 – 4 pm

MED GRILL

 “The meal was delectable, with courses of consomme and leeks, cold poached salmon with bergamot mousseline sauce and cucumbers, curried game meats, mutton joint with savory stuffering, roasted duckling and pheasant and squab with herbed root vegetables, and so on. Tabitha, whose finest meals had consisted largely of tinned meats and powered custard, nearly wept at the smells and textures and tastes flooding her senses.”

― jessic lawson

What is a perfect end to the 10 kilometre walk around Elk/Beaver Lake?  Dinner at the Med Grill and ordering from their Tuscan Table menu. It is a 3 course meal full of deliciousness and we oohed and ahhed over each delectable course.

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Antipasto: Wild Mushrooms on Toast: Toasted rye baguette, roasted wild mushrooms, confit garlic goat cheese mousse, fresh arugula and balsamic reduction. Doesn’t that sound marvelous! It was! I could have feasted on that for the evening.

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Insalata & Zuppa: I ordered the Roasted Cauliflower & Smoked White Cheddar Zuppa. Delicious!

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Have you had a dish that stays in your palate bank long after the meal has finished……….This is IT……

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Primo: My friend and I both chose the Applewood Smoked Bacon Wrapped Chicken: Cranberry, brie & spinach stuffing, oven roasted, finished with a gorgonzola & walnut cream sauce, accompanied with roasted garlic whipped potatoes. This dish was amazing!  And from a different angle…….

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Dolce: The choice was Lemon Frangelico Mousse & Blueberry Trifle

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or Chocolate Espresso Cheesecake.

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My friend chose the former and I, the latter. Both were delicious but I have to confess that I was too full to finish the dessert.

The Tuscan Table menu changes monthly and November’s menu will end during the last week of November.

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The Tuscan Table is available after 4:30 pm

Sunday, Monday, Tuesday  $22.99

Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday  $24.99

Of course there is an extensive menu that is independent of the Tuscan Table Menu. I have eaten at the Med Grill before and have found the quality of the food to be exceptional.

MedGrill
4512 W Saanich Rd,
Victoria, BC

(250) 727-3444

Med Grill Restaurant

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit”-Aristotle

MED GRILL’S CLAIM: Why We’re Here

Our goal since day one has been to deliver fresh, delicious and well-priced menu options at the highest level of service. Our servers are well-prepared to answer any questions you might have, and with everything made in-house, we can be very accommodating when it comes to substitutions and allergies.

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On reading the above paragraph I was ready to test the claims of the Med Grill with a luncheon that included my husband and dear friends visiting from New Brunswick. We were warmly greeted by the front staff and guided to a table that was part of a large but cozy Tuscan style dining room. We passed by a very large fireplace that would be most welcoming on a rainy or windy night.

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The menu was extensive. What caught our eye was the Venetian Brunch (served only on weekends)(PS The Med Grill has discontinued the Venetian Brunch 3 course menu. One can still order the Eggs Benedict and the Sticky Toffee Pudding but individually. Tis a shame). The starter and dessert were in place but there were five options for the entree. And very reasonably priced at $18.99. Three of us chose the Venetian Brunch and the fourth ordered from the menu.

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Our meals were delicious, the service was friendly and prompt and all agreed the Med Grill was worthy of a return visit.

Roasted Cranberry and Brie Turnover

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Canadian Back Bacon and Eggs Benedict

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and Sticky Toffee Pudding

Med Grill Dessert

bin 4 Burger Lounge

To eat well, I always disagree with critics who say that all restaurants should be fine dining. You can get a Michelin star if you serve the best hamburger in the world.

David Chang

 

Gourmet Hamburgers- check

Locally grown products- check

House cut Kennebec French Fries-check

Freshly made House Salad-check

House made Dip for Fries-check

Buns from Irene’s Bakery

 

What is not to love about bin 4’s menu! 17 uniquely styled burgers including the classic Heritage, the Dirty Bourbon, Mr Bean and the The Angry Bull.

 

Bin 4 bourbon burger

 

The Dirty Bourbon

I ordered the Heritage burger with aged white cheddar, a freshly made salad with a divine lemon champagne honey vinaigrette and piping hot fries…. crisp on the outside and soft on the inside. I chose the roasted garlic aioli dip….one of 9 dips and it complimented the fries beautifully. The gene pool chose the Dirty Bourbon and The Angry Bull with fries for their side. We all agreed that the burgers were awesome!!

bin 4 cheese burger

 

 

The Classic Heritage with Bacon

 

Bin 4
180-911 Yates Street
Victoria, BC
250-590-4154

&

3271 Maple Street (across from Home Sense)
Saanich, BC
250-590-6565

&

107-716 Goldstream Avenue
Westshore, BC
778-265-5464