Named after the Malahat First Nation, this rugged region of heavy forest and steep cliffs north of Victoria is traversed by one of the most beautiful roadways in the world, with viewpoints providing scenic vistas of Saanich Inlet, the Saanich Peninsula, Saltspring Island, and the BC Gulf Islands in the distance.
First cut as a cattle trail in 1861, it was upgraded to wagon-road standards in 1884, and became a paved road in 1911. The Malahat Drive climbs to a summit of 356 metres (1,156 ft). Today, the Malahat highway begins in Goldstream Provincial Park, just north of Langford, and takes a famously winding and steep route over the 356-metre (1,156-feet) Malahat Summit to end just south of Mill Bay.
Travelling north from Victoria, Malahat Drive climbs over rugged mountainside and through imposing mature forests of Douglas fir, arbutus, hemlock, and western red cedar before dropping down into the Cowichan Valley.
In spite of the highway, the Malahat is of great ceremonial significance to the Malahat First Nation, whose ancestors used the caves for spiritual enchancement. An earlier aboriginal name for the mountain was Yaas, the home of a legendary rainmaker. The First Nations people believed that it would rain if one pointed at the mountain. Malahat Mountain remains one of the most sacred sites on southern Vancouver Island.
The name Malahat describes the 16-mile (25-km) portion of the Trans-Canada Highway 1 as well as the locality, which is an unincorporated area in the Cowichan Valley, with services delivered by the Cowichan Valley Regional District. While there is no Malahat town, there are accommodation, dining and commercial establishments either side of Highway 1 that cater to visitors.
Location: The Malahat is located on the west side of the Saanich Inlet, south of Duncan and 30 minutes north of Victoria on southern Vancouver Island, British Columbia.