We’re lucky here on the West Coast with Septembers that are usually mild and sunny. And while the leaves may have started to change, the harbinger of the fast-approaching fall, the weather is still warm and dry. This is the perfect time to get out there and explore, enjoy the late summer breeze and find a few lookout locations to admire the view from. There are so many hills, mountains and lookout areas on Vancouver Island which can make it difficult to find your favourites so we’ve made a short list of our go-to spots to take in the scenery and have a peaceful moment in Vancouver Island’s natural beauty.
If you’re looking for an easy lookout spot, Mt. Tolmie should be at the top of your list. Perfect for anyone staying in Victoria, this is a spectacular spot to find gorgeous 360 degree views of Victoria, the Saanich Inlet and beyond. The best part about Mt. Tolmie? You can drive right to the summit so you don’t have to worry about taking on a hike, unless you want to! To make the most of the views, from the parking lot, head to the railing and enjoy the sweeping southern views of Victoria, the Strait of Juan de Fuca and on a clear day, the Olympic range. On the other side, you’ll find a few steps up that takes you to an area where you can enjoy panoramic views of Mount Douglas, the Saanich Peninsula, the Saanich Inlet and beyond.
Tucked away in the picturesque neighbourhood of Oak Bay, you’ll find one of the city’s most stunning hidden gems. Anderson Hill Park features rocky outcrops, wildflowers and gnarled Gary oaks. Despite its size, this residential park has spectacular views. To the south you will see the Trial Island ecological reserve and have unobstructed views across McNeil Bay to the west.
At the edge of the water on Dallas Road, is the popular and beautiful Holland Point Park. This waterfront park is the perfect place for guests in downtown Victoria to stroll down and watch colourful kite surfers sail through the sky and sailboats skim over the sparkling ocean while the Olympic range shimmers in the distance.
At the top of the Peninsula, you’ll find the lovely Horth Hill Regional Park. With numerous trails that wind through lush plants and colourful wildflowers, Horth Hill is one of those late summer hikes that are worth the effort. As you climb to the summit of Horth Hill, you can enjoy the beautiful sun speckled trails and marvel at the huge Douglas firs. At the summit, take a break and enjoy the view of Satellite Channel, the Saanich Inlet and the Salish Sea.
To the south of Horth Hill you’ll find the lush, forested trails of John Dean Provincial Park, a great places to find incredible views. John Dean offers stunning panoramic views of the Saanich Inlet and the Salish Sea for anyone willing to brave the steep climb.
One of the newest attractions on Vancouver Island is the incredible Malahat SkyWalk. This stunning experience starts with a ten minute walk on a boardwalk through a beautiful arbutus forest leading to a gentle spiral ramp that takes you to the summit 32 metres (104 feet) up. At the summit, you’ll have unmatched panoramic views of Finlayson Arm, Saanich Peninsula, Mount Baker and the distant Coast Mountains. If you have the stomach for it, you can walk out onto the sturdy Adventure Net and look straight down to the ground below! Kids of all ages will love coming down from the tower on the 20 metre spiral slide or take a leisurely walk back down and enjoy the descent.
Another great lookout point for guests in the Cowichan Valley and a worthwhile drive for anyone staying in Victoria is the amazing Kinsol Trestle that draws thousands of visitors every year. As one of the only free-standing timber trestles in the world, the Kinsol trestle stands at an impressive 44 metres high and offers visitors an incredible view of the Koksilah River as it winds its way through the valley. Being among the tops of the fir trees at this historic site is something you won’t want to miss!
Linley Valley is one of the most popular hiking areas in Nanaimo to go and experience nature on the West Coast. This incredible park has a mix of wild meadows, hidden ponds and streams, lush forested areas and rocky outcrops, providing visitors a real sense of West Coast beauty all in one park. For spectacular, panoramic views of Nanaimo, Gabriola Island and the Strait of Georgia, the Peak Lookout is your best bet.
While a beach may be a surprising addition to a list of incredible views, guests staying at an EMR Parksville property will be thrilled to discover that Rathtrevor is no ordinary beach. With a tide that recedes almost a kilometre from the shoreline and stretches five kilometres, this beach is a truly unique experience. Here, you can look out at the Strait of Georgia, across to Sechelt and watch the clouds roll over the Sunshine Coast in the distance, see the weather roll in and enjoy some big sky watching.
This hike is as gorgeous as the view at the destination, Cruikshank Canyon should be your next outing. Starting at the trail access at Mt Washington, you’ll hike through immaculate sub-alpine terrain, past numerous crystal clear lakes, perfect for cooling off on a hot late summer day and lush alpine meadows strewn with wildflowers. At the summit you’ll find mind-blowing 180 degree views of the Comox Valley where you can watch the shadows of the clouds on the mountains as they move through the sky and hear nothing but the wind blowing through the valley. Friendly Whiskey Jacks will land on a steady, outstretched hand looking for seeds and other treats but be careful of the cliff edges, there are 100 foot drops that are as dangerous as they are awe-inspiring