From the top of Mount Newton, John Dean Provincial Park overlooks the Saanich Peninsula, the Cascade Mountains, and the Gulf Islands. Located on southern Vancouver Island, the Park is home to one of the last old-growth Douglas fir and Garry Oak forests on the Peninsula. This day-use park offers several hiking trails ranging from easy to more challenging that take you through this pristine forest. Spring brings with it a display of native B.C. wildflowers some of which include:
- Common red paintbrush
- Blue camas lilies
- Sea blush
- Shooting stars
Adventurous hikers who trek to the top of Mount Newton are rewarded with spectacular displays of soaring ravens, bald eagles, turkey vultures, and red-tailed hawks. The summit is also well known for taking in one of the most spectacular sunsets on the Island.
The fragile ecosystem that exists in the park is also home to five at-risk plant communities. Pileated woodpeckers make this old-growth forest their home and play a major role in protecting the Calypso orchid along with some of the more mature Douglas fir trees.
There are many activities that one can enjoy in the park including:
- Hiking – There are 6 km of trails that range from easy hikes to more difficult ones that can take you up to the top of Mount Newton.
- Cycling – Cycling is permitted but all bicycles must stay on the roadways. It’s also important to note that bicycle helmets are required in B.C.
Pets and other domestic animals are allowed in the park but must be on a leash at all times. You will want to stay away from backcountry areas with any pet to avoid confrontations with bears and other wildlife. There is a wildlife viewing platform at Pickles Bluff that also offers awe-inspiring views of the Saanich Peninsula.
There are picnic tables available which makes this park a perfect spot to spend the day. A pit toilet and an information shelter are also located near the parking lot. Vehicle traffic is prohibited from November to March and the park gate is locked from dusk until 8:00 a.m. You can view a park map directly from the website.
John Dean Provincial Park is an excellent example of the natural beauty that exists throughout southern Vancouver Island. Residents and visitors alike know just what a privilege it is to be able to have so many opportunities to experience places like John Dean Park.