Mount Tolmie Park is located in Saanich on southern Vancouver Island and just a short drive from the provincial capital of Victoria. It is famous for being ‘The Best Place to View the City’ making it a very popular spot for hiking and sightseeing. The park was named after the biologist, Dr. William Frazer Tolmie who was a prominent and well respected resident in the area in the1960’s. The hike to the summit is well worth the panoramic views where you can see:
- San Juan Islands
- Olympic Mountains
- Mount Baker
- Race Rocks & Lighthouse
- Mount Douglas
Several of the 1500+ metres of hiking trails will take you to the summit of Mount Tolmie as it winds its way up rocky slopes and through lush meadows. The rocky bluffs of Mount Tolmie are the perfect environment for the Garry Oak, which is the province’s only native oak species. Another tree you will find here that is exclusive to the region is the Arbutus. It is a broadleaf evergreen with a satiny bark that changes to reddish-brown and peels away during the fall.
The grey bedrock on the summit and surrounding outcrops were formed about 200 million years ago during the Jurassic period! Here, you can also see signs of the last ice age from about 12,000 ago. Look for signs like:
- Shallow grooves from glaciers which once moved along the surface
- Slickensides which are fine scratches in the broken rocks
There are a wide range of places to explore throughout Mount Tolmie that include a combination of natural pathways through rocky outcrops and man-made structures like the water reservoir. There are five picnic areas that you can either hike to or drive to each which have nearby parking areas. It is possible to reserve any one of these picnic areas through the park permit system or are also available on a first-come-first-served basis.
While Mount Tolmie is an incredible display of history and a paradise for nature lovers, it is also a sensitive and balanced ecosystem protecting the Garry Oak and many other natural areas. It is for this reason that all visitors are highly encouraged to care and ensure the preservation of the area by following a few simple rules.
- Always stay on designated trails
- Keep dogs under control at all times
- Cycling should only be on paved roads within the park
- Never leave anything behind
- Do not pick wildflowers
Visitors are encouraged to take advantage of all the wonders that Mount Tolmie has to offer and through careful preservation of the area, it will be there for future generations to enjoy.