You are hereThe Malahat - A Short Road Trip near Victoria, BC

The Malahat - A Short Road Trip near Victoria, BC

By touring - Posted on 07 July 2011

Malahat Drive - Scenic drive from Victoria
A full moon over Malahat Drive looking towards the Saanich Peninsula (Victoria, BC).

Driving the Malahat

Considered to be one of the most scenic roadways in the entire country, the highway climbs from sea-level to the heights of the heavily forested mountains on southern Vancouver Island.

While this stretch of the Trans Canada Highway (#1) is only 25 kilometers, the scenic views of Finlayson Fjord are never far away. From the scenic viewpoints, visitors will stand high with commanding views of the entire region, including the Saanich Peninsula, Salt Spring Island, Bellingham, Washington and Mount Baker standing stoically in the background.

Travelling north out of Victoria, the Malahat starts at and travels up the eastern coast of Vancouver Island. The road hugs seaside mountains and carves through thick forests of Douglas Fir, Arbutus, maple and Red Cedar.

The Malahat is actually a part of the Trans Canada Highway but locals have given it it's own distinction due to the steep inclines, large curves and its dangerous reputation for winter driving.

The Malahat is located 30 minutes south of Duncan, BC and 30 minutes north of Victoria’s downtown core. Visitors to Victoria may want to consider driving north since the roadside viewpoints can only be accessed from the northbound lanes.

The Malahat Circle Route

An optional circle route is possible. Keep heading north to Mill Bay and take the short ferry ride ($30) across Finlayson Arm back to Brentwood Bay on the Saanich Peninsula. From there, you can head back to Victoria.

View in a larger map

History of the Malahat Highway

The Malahat Highway was named after the local First Nations in the area. They have been there for thousands of years and still manage the local fishery.

An original wagon trail was cut through the dense forest in 1884 and the muddy trail was then paved in 1911. It climbs 356 meters (1156 ft) in just a few kilometers.

The sea is full of life in this area. The annual migration of the Coho and Chinook salmon takes place every autumn from October to November. The Malahat Highway comes within meters of the spawn area as it clings to the steep mountainside.

Malahat Web Camera

Source: - Current Driving Conditions along the Malahat Highway near Goldstream Park.

Tips for Driving The Malahat

  • Take the drive when it's not raining. Fog and inclement weather is common in the mountains.
  • Your vehicle should have all-season tires in the winter as road conditions can be slippery.
  • Don't expect the traffic to be fast in the summer when most tourists plod along the roadway.
  • The Malahat is one small section of the larger .
  • The prettiest time to go is on a clear evening as the full moon rises over the mainland.
  • On the way back to Victoria, consider taking the in Goldstream Park to see Vancouver Island's version of . The parking lot is only accessible from the southbound lanes.

When visiting Victoria, make sure to drive the scenic Malahat Highway and witness the beauty of southern Vancouver Island.

Check out other .

Get more insider tips on Canadian Adventures at Scenic Travel Canada.

Authors & Contributors