Gowlland Tod Provincial Park is a true gem for outdoor enthusiasts. It is one of the biggest provincial parks in the area, with its 1280 hectares covering most of the eastern side of the Saanich Inlet. The Caleb Pike and Tod Inlet access points offer more accessible trails that can be enjoyed by those using mobility devices or baby strollers. At these areas, you’ll also find picnicking facilities and outhouses, which are not available along the trails themselves. For the most part, however, the Gowlland Tod trail system is best suited to more physically capable hikers, with many trails that could be considered wilderness hiking.
Highlights of Gowlland Tod Provincial Park
- 9 stunning lookout points
- Picnicking facilities at Caleb Pike and Tod Inlet
- Trails ranging from wheelchair accessible to challenging wilderness hikes
- Parking and outhouses at the 3 access points
- 150 identified plant and animal species
- Horseback riding trails
- Wildlife spotting
Gowlland Tod is a Class A park, which means that its purpose is to protect the natural environment, plant and animal species within its borders so that they can be enjoyed by the public for years to come. In terms of the wildlife in the park, visitors may have the opportunity to spot blue herons, bald eagles, peregrine falcons, river otters, black tailed deer, red squirrels, and even black bears and cougars. Because of the range of wildlife in the area, and because of the nature of many of the trails, using a certain amount of caution when hiking here is definitely needed.
Safe and Pleasant Hiking at Gowlland Tod Provincial Park
You can bring your dog with you, but you must keep it on a leash at all times, and pick up after it. Keeping your pet on a leash will help ensure that they do not disturb the many environmentally sensitive areas in this park, like salmon spawning streams and waterfowl nesting sites. The wilderness backcountry trails are not suitable for dogs since, while it is not common, there is a very real possibility of encountering a black bear or even a cougar. If you do spot a cougar while enjoying a hike in this park, you should report it as soon as possible by calling the Conservation Officer Service at 1-877-952-7277.
If you are planning a day trip to Gowlland Tod, with the intention of hiking the more challenging trails, you will need to make sure you have proper footwear and outerwear. Since Victoria has somewhat temperamental weather, it’s good to have rain gear even if your day starts out sunny and warm. Make sure you have enough water and food to last for your entire hike, since there is no potable water and there are no shops nearby. It’s always a good idea to bring a basic first aid kit in your backpack, and having a sturdy walking stick will definitely help you navigate the more difficult sections of trail. Lastly, leaving a detailed plan (including an estimated return time) with a friend or family member will give you an added measure of security in the event of an emergency.