Location & Seasons

The Salish Shores Discovery Trail crosses the southern tip of Vancouver Island. It starts near the town of Sidney-by-the-Sea, located at the north end of the Saanich Peninsula. It runs south and west for about 100 km to Sooke Basin and inland to Sooke River Park.  

Scroll down for tips on climate and on hiking in all seasons.  Click here for a route map.  (Please note that the exact route for each tour depends on duration and accessibility.) 



 

Geography of Vancouver Island

Vancouver Island is the largest island off the west coast of North America. Situated next to the mainland coast of British Columbia and the north shore of Washington State's Olympic Peninsula, Vancouver Island occupies an area about the size of Holland. It stretches 500 kilometres (320 miles) southeast to northwest with an area of 3,175,000 hectares (9,493,171 acres) and 3,460 kilometres (2,150 miles) of coastline.

Vancouver Island is separated from Vancouver, BC by the Strait of Georgia to the east and from Washington State by the Strait of Juan de Fuca to the south and southeast.

Victoria is situated on the southern tip of Vancouver Island, on the Saanich Peninsula. It lies at 123 degrees 22' west longitude, and 48 degrees 25' north latitude. Its latitude is about the same as Dijon, France in the northern hemisphere and the southern end of New Zealand in the southern hemisphere. Greater Victoria covers an area of 695 square kilometres (432 square miles). There are 48 regional, provincial and federal parks, totalling more than 7,600 hectares (22,724 acres).

The greater Victoria region consists of rolling lowlands, out of which granite rises to heights of up to 300 metres (985 feet).  Old deltas and marine shorelines in the Langford, Metchosin and Saanich area show signs of past glacial activity where the land has risen 90 metres (295 feet) above the present sea level. In parts of Victoria's north and west shorelines, waves cut into layers of glacial till and delta material to produce cliffs, spits and lagoons.

(Courtesy of Tourism Victoria)

Climate

Located in a sub-Mediterranean zone, the region boasts the mildest climate in Canada with an average of 2,183 hours of sunshine each year.  Average temperatures are

January: 6.5°C (44°F)
February: 8.4°C (47°F)
March: 10.2°C (50°F)
April: 12.9°C (55°F)
May: 16.3°C (61°F)
June: 19.3°C (67°F)
July: 21.8°C (71°F)
August: 21.8°C (71°F)
September: 19.1°C (67°F)
October: 14.1°C (57°F)
November: 9.4°C (49°F)
December: 6.8°C (45°F)

Hiking in all Seasons

In spring, summer and fall, bring sunscreen, a bathing suit and a hat.  And: anywhere near the water - and that’s almost everywhere around here - it cools off markedly in the evening and a fresh breeze can be felt most of the time.

Dress in layers, have a light wind and water-proof outer layer.  Bring light walking shoes or sandals, but don’t omit your serious, waterproof hiking boots. Salt-water resistant can come in handy, too.

The weather can be great as early as Easter and blossoms are seen all around. July-August are the safest time for outdoors vacations, but also the busiest for parks and accommodations. September and even early October are often superb, with trees changing colour, the temperatures moderate, the days still long enough to take your time while hiking.

We Islanders maintain that it never rains around here. It is nonetheless a good idea to carry waterproof clothing, so as not to tempt fate.

Hiking, even cycling, is a pleasure year round.  During fall, some trails can get pretty muddy, so prepare your hiking boots.  Also, shorter daylight hours give you less time to reach your destination. Our winter trips take that into account. If you are tempted, contact us with questions.  We will be honest about conditions and advise against a hiking trip if we are having one of our Pineapple Express (i.e., especially rainy) seasons.