Difficulty: This is generally an easy hiking trail, with a few steep sections.
Witty's Lagoon is an estuary located on the southern shores of Vancouver Island. It's about 25 minutes from Comfort Cove Cottage or about 40 minutes from downtown Victoria, BC. The Beach Trail is a 1.1 kilometer hike takes you through a thick rainforest, through an old orchard and then to the pebbly shores of the Juan de Fuca Strait. This is a short hike but encompasses all of the best sights and sounds of the region (birds, waterfall, massive trees and ocean views). This is a must-see hike for all visitors to Victoria and Sooke, British Columbia.
The hike starts at the same location as the Lagoon Trail, at the main parking lot across from the Metchosin Golf Club and beside the Nature Centre. Just as the path begins to descend, one of the largest and oldest Arbutus trees in the region stands sentry. Follow the signs that direct visitors to the beach. Cross Bilston Creek on the boardwalk and peer across the lagoon from the lookout points to enjoy the wildlife views from high above the water. Views of Sitting Lady Waterfall are partially obscured by the thick trees (the Lagoon Trail has better vantage points of the falls). The best time to enjoy the falls is during the rainy season in winter or after a heavy rainfall in spring.
The path winds through the forest and down towards the water. The salt-marsh is home to resident and migratory birds, including blue herons, swans and ducks. Over 160 species of birds have been documented to frequent Witty's Lagoon.
The hiking trail continues through an old apple orchard and ends on the beach. A long sand spit extends across the mouth of the lagoon where visitors can enjoy expansive views of the Juan de Fuca Strait. Looking out, you can see Victoria in the distance with Mount Baker towering behind. Towards the south is Port Angeles and the Olympic Mountains of Washington State. The sandy beach is a large and quiet stretch of oceanfront which attracts lots of people. Families and couples relax on the shores of Parry Bay while dog-walkers and nature-lovers enjoy the rocky length of intertidal zone. At high tide, visitors may be lucky enough to see harbour seals close to shore, or may catch a glimpse of the local orca pod in the distance.
Depending on the tide, it is possible to walk over 3 kilometers along the coastal shelf from Witty's Lagoon to Taylor Beach at Devonian Regional Park. Consult the local tide schedule to determine the best time to venture out. Make sure you leave enough time for a safe return. Hiking boots are recommended for the rocky journey.
This area was inhabited by the Salish people for thousands of years. The forest provided shelter, the lagoon supplied food and vegetation, and the ocean delivered salmon and trout. As you walk through this ancient estuary, you can see the old signs of a settlement. Today, the descendents of the Ka-Kyaakan people live on the Songhees reserve in Esquimalt.
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