Elk/Beaver Lake Regional Park, located in Saanich, is rich in natural and cultural history. The last of the glaciers passed over the Saanich Peninsula nearly 15,000 years ago, scouring out Elk/Beaver Lake, and leaving behind residual hills, called monadnocks.

Nearby Bear Hill Regional Park covers nearly 46 hectares of hill top landscape, some of the oldest rock on Vancouver Island.

For thousands of years the Coast Salish people inhabited the Saanich Peninsula. The Songhees and the Saanich used the area for hunting, fishing and collecting plants. In the 1850s the Saanich Peninsula was purchased from the Coast Saanich people for 386 wool blankets.

At 434 hectares (1,072 acres), Elk/Beaver Lakes Regional Park is large enough to accommodate virtually every year-round outdoor interest, and is the most intensively used of all the Capital Region District Parks.

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The lake surface is used cooperatively by swimmers, windsurfers, sailors, water-skiers, fishermen and rowers. Some park trails are designated multi-use, for hikers, cyclists and horse riders, while others are single use only.

Whether you bask in the sun, stroll along the shore, or explore the 19 kms of woodland walking and bridle trails, this interconnecting network of lakes provides a good day outing for the whole family.

In the southern end of the park you can use the nearby ponds for retriever training, or use the Equestrian Centre to exercise and train your horse. In the north (Elk Lake), you can launch your scull from the Rowing Centre or start a hike south to Beaver Lake.

The open water is the habitat of Mergansers, Canada Geese and Buffleheads. Overhead, Bald Eagles and Osprey look for Rainbow Trout, Smallmouth Bass and Pumpkin-seed Sunfish. The wetland serves as a transition from the lake to the shore. River otters swim among the Yellow Pond Lilies, and Red-winged Blackbirds balance on Cat-tails. Listen closely for the haunting call of the Common Loon or the jug-o-rum of the giant Bullfrog.

The Grassland is a quiet refuge. California Quail, Brewer’s Blackbirds and Savannah Sparrows share the serenity with rabbits and Columbian Black-Tailed Deer. The forest is lush with life. Stands of Cottonwood and Red Alder shelter Red-legged Frogs and provide homes for cavity-nesting birds. Douglas fir and Western Red Cedar form a canopy for Yellow Warblers and Chestnut-Backed Chickadees. The lucky may even hear a Screech Owl at dawn.

Elk/Beaver Lake Regional Park is located on Victoria’s Saanich Peninsula. Drive 17 miles (2 km) north from Victoria on the Pat Bay Highway (Hwy 17), and turn left at the first traffic light after seeing Elk Lake (it’s huge, and close to the highway). For access to the south end of the park (Beaver Lake), turn left at the Haliburton Road traffic light on Hwy 17, immediately north of Royal Oak Drive. The park is a few hundred yards down Elk Lake Drive on the right.

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