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The Ultimate Guide to Hikes and Walks in Langford

The Ultimate Guide to Hikes and Walks in Langford

Langford is an exciting place to live. We are so fortunate on Vancouver Island to be surrounded by the ocean, mountains, forests, and an abundance of trails and parks. As a Langford resident, you are gifted with such landscapes a stone’s throw away (and of course, we are happy to share these gems with Langford visitors also!). Read on to discover (or be reacquainted with) 10 noteworthy trails in our city.

Ed Nixon Trail/Langford Lake:
Level of difficulty: easy
Terrain: some boardwalk and mud packed trail
Time to complete: approximately 1 hour to 1 hour and 30 minutes round trip

Ed Nixon Trail stretches 4.5 km between the parking lot on Goldstream Avenue (near the end of Goldstream Avenue) to the Langford Lake Beach Park and is a fun for all ages walk that falls on the backdrop of beautiful Langford Lake. The lake itself is a gathering place for activity throughout the year for swimming, fishing, even kayaking. For those who enjoy viewing the water more than interacting with it, Ed Nixon Trail is a great place to bring kids, walk your dog, or go for a run or a relaxing walk. On the boardwalk towards the Goldstream Avenue end of the trail, you can observe protected natural habitats and vegetation as you meander around the lake.

Mount Finlayson:
Level of difficulty: difficult
Terrain: rocky and uneven in parts
Time to complete: 1 hour 30 minutes to 2 hours round trip

Mount Finlayson is deceptive in appearance, and make no mistake, this hike can be challenging. You will need appropriate hiking footwear and other necessary hiking supplies. Although challenging, it is an enjoyable hike where you can see a few different ecosystems in one adventure. You will start in the parking lot of Goldstream Park (which has lots of trails to explore), walk over Goldstream River, where you will find the notorious stairway. Navigating upwards (and downwards), you’ll see the impressive tree root system to help keep your footing. Before long, you will be fully rock climbing your way to the summit. Once at the top, there will be a most impressive 360-degree view of Langford and beyond. Watch your footing on the way down as the rocks can be slippery, especially after a rainfall.

There is a “backside” to hike as well. The general consensus is this way is a little easier than going by the main trail, but you still get the workout and the views!

Goldstream Provincial Park:
Level of difficulty: easy to difficult (depending on the trail chosen)
Terrain: ranges from mud packed trail to rocky
Time to complete: 30 minutes to 2 hours (depending on the trail chosen)

If Mount Finlayson is a bit too adventurous, there are many other trails at Goldstream Park, some as easy as following the path along Goldstream River, which is relatively level and flat. You can stop along the way and enjoy the picnic areas, maybe even a small campfire. Keep walking, and you will find the Freeman King Visitor Centre, which features nature displays and information about the park.

Mill Hill Regional Park:
Level of difficulty: moderate
Terrain: gravel to mud packed
Time to complete: 30 minutes to 1 hour round trip

Mill Hill is an excellent hike for those who do not have a lot of time but want a good workout and an amazing view to top it off. People might disagree on the level of difficulty. Some argue it is easy, while others will say the opposite. Regardless of opinion, there is no denying that to get a good view of Langford and the surrounding area, you need to climb—and Mill Hill is steep. There are several places to catch your breath, refuel and enjoy the view once you get to the top.

There is the option to do a complete loop around the park if you didn’t want to return the way you came. The loop shows off its collection of wildflowers and Garry Oaks, but it can be challenging and uneven at times, especially if it has rained.

Mount Wells:
Level of difficulty: moderate
Terrain: rocky to mud packed with uneven tree roots
Time to complete: 1 hour to 1 hour 30 minutes round trip

Dubbed a mini–Mount Finlayson, Mount Wells is a great option for a challenging hike, with killer views of Humpback Reservoir and Langford that doesn’t take quite as long as Mount Finlayson. From the main parking lot, follow the trail, which will bring you to a road that you must (carefully) cross. As you venture up the mountain, you will be surrounded by awe-inspiring yet sensitive ecosystems and vegetations like Garry Oaks, Douglas Firs and Arbutus Trees (and during the spring, you can witness the Insta-worthy wildflower bloom).

There are challenging parts to this hike, including some parts that are akin to rock climbing. The rocks and boulders can get slippery, and in one part, there are chain link rails for people to use to help with the climb.

Sooke Hills Wilderness Trail:
Level of difficulty: easy to moderate
Terrain: gravel path
Time to complete: 30 minutes to 3 days (depending on how much of the hike is chosen to complete, but you can do as much or as little as you like)

The Sooke Hills Wilderness Trail is a popular and smaller part of the Great Trail. The Great Trail is the longest trail in the world and spans 27,000 km over 13 provinces across Canada. On Vancouver Island, that can take you from Langford all the way to the Cowichan Valley Regional District (if you want to hike for three days). In most areas of the trail, the path is wide, suitable for two-way traffic for walking, running, cycling or horseback riding. Keep in mind, once you pass the suspension bridge, you should expect some steep hills, since you know, you’re in the Sooke Hills! You will get the forests—ranging from young plantations to old-growth—river views and hilltop views. Just off the trail, there’s a wooden platform that offers a fantastic viewpoint of Waugh Falls. A couple of fun features on this trail include the Goldstream River Suspension Bridge and walking beside the (inactive) E&N railroad.

Thetis Lake Regional Park:
Level of difficulty: easy to moderate
Terrain: mud packed, some gravel, chance of uneven tree roots
Time to complete: 40 minutes to 1 hour 30 minutes (depending on the trail taken)

There are several trails to explore at Thetis Lake, but the main two are the loops named “Upper” and “Lower” Thetis. The park is a very popular spot for people (and dogs) of all ages and fitness levels. The main beach is a popular place to spend the day during the summer, and the lake is usually full of activity with people swimming, paddle boarding and kayaking.

Beginning in the main parking lot, you will enter the trail at the main beach. Since the trail is a loop, you can go left or right. If you follow the path starting right (it’s the closest starting point from there), there will be some fairly steep areas, with a few slippery spots as well after a rainfall. The trail around Lower Thetis follows the outline of the lake almost the entire way around, which means you get to enjoy the view of the lake and the trees at the same time.

If you are up for a bit more of a challenge, you can follow the trail from Lower Thetis and about halfway around, you will see markers to guide you to Upper Thetis. Upper Thetis can get quite rocky in some parts and does not follow the outline of the lake as closely. You will know when you have completed the Upper loop as the path will guide you back to the Lower Thetis Trail (at the small stone steps, you will have the option to go left or right, if you go right, you will follow the loop in the direction you started it and will bring you back sooner to the main beach).

E&N Trail:
Level of difficulty: easy
Terrain: asphalt
Time to complete: about 3 hours walking (if you complete the full 17 km stretch but you can do as much or as little as you like)

The E&N Trail is one of the newer additions to the CRD trail network, mimicking the pathway of the E&N Rail Corridor. Some parts are still under construction; however, when the trail ceases in a spot, there are roads or sidewalks that will connect you to the next completed part of the trail. It is a great option for those who want to get out for a walk that isn’t too challenging, or a leisurely bike ride.

The trail is a great artery to connect walkers and cyclists to other parts of Langford (and Victoria) without navigating busy roads and traffic. In Langford, you can use the trail to access downtown Langford, Westhills or, visit City Centre Park.

Galloping Goose trail:
Level of difficulty: easy
Terrain: flat, mostly a mix between gravel and asphalt
Time to complete: 2-3 day trip (if you complete the entire trail)

The Galloping Goose Trail is named after a noisy passenger train that ran twice a day from Sooke to Victoria in the early 1900s. The trail spans over 55 km and would not be considered a day walk. Still, many people enjoy sections of the “Goose” daily, especially for commuting by bicycle from Langford to Victoria and vice versa. Following the Goose can take you to many different areas worth visiting (who doesn’t like creeks and trestles?).

So, what are you waiting for? Get out there and see how beautiful (and fun) our Island, but more importantly, our city can be! And make sure to tag us in your photos on Instagram and use #ExploreLangford for a chance to be featured!

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