Mount Douglas Park is located on Cordova Bay Road in Gordon Head, Victoria. From the park, visitors can walk the shores of Cordova Bay, hike trails lush with the abundance of ferns and wildflowers, towered by Douglas Fir and Cedar trees overhead. Trails lead you to the summit elevation of 213 metres. This 360 degree lookout is spectacular, with views of rural Saanich, the city lights of Victoria, and further, the Olympic and Cascade mountains in Washington State.
Mount Douglas was first known as the “hill of cedars” to the local Songhees people. Later, after the Songhees harvested lengthy cedar planks from its forests to construct palisades around Fort Victoria, its title was formalized as “Cedar Hill”. Still later, when Capt. G.H. Richards was syandardizing the local geographic nomenclature, he called any rise under one thousand feet a hill, and any above, a mountain. He made an exception for Mount Douglas, as he did not wish to ‘lower’ the governor and, as he explained, “Douglas Hill does not sound well..”
Several of the trails in Mount Douglas Park are named after local pioneer families. Peter Merriman, John Irvine and Sam Norn purchased parcels of land between April 1857 and January 1858. Nearby Cordova Bay was first known by its Saanich name, meaning “white colour”, after the snowberry bushes that thrive along its coastline. In 1790, Sub-lieutenant Quimper of the Spanish naval sloop Princessa Real (the siezed British Princess Royal) gave the name “Puerto de Cordova” (in honour of the forty-sixth viceroy of New Spain) to what is now Esquimalt Harbour. Around 1842 the Hudson’s Bay company transferred the name to this bay. For many years British maps showed it as Cormorant Bay, but in 1905 the Geographic Board of Canada made the name Cordova Bay official.
This parkland was originally set aside in 1858 by Sir James Douglas as a Government Reserve (the creek and hill ar both named after him), and has been protected as crown trust since 1889. In November 1992 it was transferred to Saanich Municipality.
The park is located 5 miles (8 km) northeast of Victoria at the north end of Shelbourne Street. Another 1.5 km up Churchill Drive brings you to the summit parking lot, and to several very fine viewpoints.
We can credit early Victoria mayor, Bert Todd, with the foresight to construct an “auto road” to the summit as a tourist attraction. Recent parkland purchases have included “Little Mount Doug” and increased the size of the park beyond its original 175 hectares.
Excellent parking and picnicking facilities are provided in the park. Near the intersection of Ash Road and Cordova Bay Road, is a large parking lot from where a trail leads down to the beach. Several trails are signposted from Cordova Bay Road from which you can plan some good hiking, but note that no parking is allowed along Cordova Bay Road. The Irvine Trail leads up to a viewpoint over Cordova Bay.
Near the old quarry on Cordova Bay Road, the Merriman Trail leads to the summit of Mount Doug – well defined and easy hiking in the lower section, but somewhat steeper with a little scrambling near the summit. The Norn Trail is well defined and provides easy walking on fairly level ground. It roughly parallels Cordova Bay Road passing through tall timber.
Access is provided along Blenkinsop Road, but there is very little space for cars. Between house numbers 4351 and 4411, find the Mercer Trail (signed) and then pick up the Munson Trail, which takes you to the old mine workings. You can then climb up over a rocky ridge with Garry Oak and low bush and in spring time will find lovely flowers. Or you can go north from the mine on the Whittaker Trail and make side trips to excellent views.
No camping is permitted in the park. In the picnic area no horses are permitted at any time; dogs are allowed here from September to April only. Cycling is not permitted on any of the trails in the park.
The Friends of Mount Douglas is a society formed to preserve the park in a natural state and to preserve the original park boundaries as set out by Sir James Douglas in 1889. Information is available c/o 4623 Cordova Bay Road, Victoria, BC, V8X 3V6.
Nearby Regions & Towns
This park is a Regional Park, Municipal Park, or proposed park, and does not fall under the jurisdiction of Parks Canada (National Parks) or the BC Ministry of Environment (BC Parks).