Bear Hill Regional Park covers nearly 46 hectares of hilltop landscape on the Saanich Peninsula north of Victoria - some of the oldest rock on Vancouver Island.
Bear Hill on the Saanich Peninsula
The last of the glaciers, 1,000 metres thick, passed over the Saanich Peninsula nearly 15,000 years ago, scouring out Elk and Beaver Lakes, and leaving behind residual hills, called monadnocks.
Bear Hill is the result of the smoothing and rounding action of glacial ice. Grooves and polished surfaces on Bear Hill's abundant rocks are still visible today, and bear witness to the ancient glaciers and the hardness of the bedrock.
Located in the heart of Victoria's farmland today, Bear Hill is known for its woodland trails through Douglas-fir, Arbutus and Garry Oak forest. The Garry Oak and Arbutus woodland here is rather impoverished in comparison to the larger tree specimens growing in more sheltered areas around Victoria. These trees survive on Bear Hill in extreme dryness and a shallow layer of soil covering the solid bedrock.
The park is popular with hikers and horse riders, and a profusion of wildflowers attracts naturalists every spring. Watch for Song Sparrows and Golden-crowned Kinglets. Trails in the park lead from the base of the hill, and are steep, rocky and quite slippery during rainy weather. The 30-minute hike (1 km) provides panoramic views of Sidney, the Saanich Peninsula, and the Gulf Islands, plus Mount Baker and the San Juan Islands in the US. Bear Hill offers a good vantage point from which to observe Bald Eagles as they ride the thermal updrafts.
View looking west over Saanich Farmlands
There are no facilities in Bear Hill Regional Park other than a small car park on the left side of the road at the Bear Hill Road entrance to the park that accommodates about 6 vehicles. Allow approximately 20 minutes driving time from Victoria.
Bear Hill Regional Park is located in Saanich, on the Saanich Peninsula north of Victoria.
View over Sidney and the Gulf Islands
Drive 12 kms north from Victoria on the Pat Bay Highway (Hwy 17) and turn left into Sayward Drive at the first traffic light after seeing Elk Lake (it's huge, and close to the highway). Go left on Hamsterly Road and right on Brookleigh Road, continuing to Oldfield Road. Turn right on Oldfield Road and right on Bear Hill Road.
Take BC Transit bus #75 from Victoria to Central Saanich and Tanner Rd. The park is approximately a 2-kilometre walk from the bus stop. Contact BC Transit for schedule information.