Hiking in Francis/King Regional Park (Victoria, BC)
We were looking for a regional park near Victoria, BC to take my elderly mother. It couldn't be a strenuous outdoor adventure since she had limited mobility but the hike needed to be easily accessible, quiet and scenic. We found all of that in Francis/King Regional Park.
Rating – Easy to moderate
Distance – 200 meters to 3 kilometer loops
Elevation Gain – Negligible
Duration – 15 minutes to 3 hours
When to Go – Year round but the trails can be a bit wet & muddy in sections from November to March
Where to Park - Parking is available near the Nature House Interpretive Centre.
There were over 11 kilometers of well-groomed trails in the Francis/King Regional Park and we took my mother on the Elsie King Interpretive Trail, a short loop on a packed-gravel trail and a boardwalk. The path was smooth and easy with benches and even had a shelter for bird- and people-watching.
Located in suburban Victoria, this regional park feels more like a wilderness reserve than a city park. Once inside, the urban sounds are absorbed by the thick forest of Douglas Fir and Arbutus trees. And these trees are HUGE!
View Francis/King Regional Park near Victoria, BC in a larger map
As we were returning to the parking lot, we followed an organized tour group to one of the largest and oldest trees in the Victoria area. A short distance away, in Heritage Grove, was a 500 year old Douglas Fir with a circumference of over 32 feet! The group, shown in the photo, was the Ancient Forest Alliance and they were touring the largest trees on southern Vancouver Island.
We enjoyed visiting Heritage Grove. The towering trees made us feel small and their longevity made us realize how brief our time is compared to them. I continued along the path, down a steep grade and across a foot bridge. The Centennial Trail was a short loop that went past rocky outcrops and a marshy area. Signs posts pointed to paths leading to neighbouring Thetis Lake Regional Park.
The wildflowers were in full bloom and the ferns and moss covered all but the steepest rock faces. The bird calls were deafening and in the distance, the sounds of a woodpecker making a new home echoed through the trees. I had to watch my step so as to not step on any deer droppings. This was a wildlife haven.
It was an amazing nature experience that was so close to the city. An afternoon at the Francis/King park was an excellent family outing in the wilds of Victoria.
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