The capital region is an outdoor lover's paradise, especially in summer when the days are long and even the rain takes a vacation. Today, the Times Colonist brings the fourth installment in our new summer series: Eight Hidden Gems, where our reporters and photographers introduce you to some of the region's lesser-known outdoor getaways.
TODAY WE VISIT DEVONIAN REGIONAL PARK IN METCHOSIN.
Take in Victoria's skyline, Mount Baker's peak, the crashing waves of Juan de Fuca Strait and the Olympic Mountains - all from one beach.
It's the Capital Regional District's own "little gem" - Devonian Regional Park.
Nestled between two farm properties in Metchosin, the park boasts a one-kilometre trail that takes visitors through lush vegetation to a cobble beach in only 15 minutes.
Just 16 hectares in size, Devonian Park is home to a variety of ecosystems that can all be observed while walking the trail.
"For such a small park, you really have a lot of diversity with the creek, pond and cobble beach," said Nancie Dohan, co-ordinator of environmental interpretation with CRD parks. "The park supports an amazing variety of species."
For bird watchers, the dense woodlands are home to birds such as the pileated woodpecker, the great horned owl and the small kinglet with its yellow marking.
Follow the curves of the trail past Sherwood Creek and look out for cutthroat trout in the spring - they spawn in the creek.
You'll notice the variety of trees and plants as the park is home to a Douglas fir ecosystem and the Garry oak ecosystem, which has become increasingly rare on southern Vancouver Island because of development.
"Most of Victoria used to be covered in Garry oak, and the wildlife and the wildflowers that used to be associated with it have disappeared," Dohan said.
Once you reach the beach, find a spot on a log for a picnic lunch, search for a flat, smooth rock to skip on the water or simply walk the shore.
And don't be surprised if you have the beach to yourself.
Sarah Cormode has been going to Devonian Park for 10 years, despite the fact that she lives near Thetis Lake. She says the peacefulness of the park makes the trip worth it.
"The water is pristine and there are tons of good vantage points here," John Hurley of Victoria said after his first trip to the beach at Devonian Park.
Otters and harbour seals can be seen passing by Devonian's shores and Dohan says late summer is the best time to catch a glimpse of orcas.
The CRD has been protecting Devonian's beach and parkland since 1980, when it acquired the land with the help of a philanthropist group, the Devonian Foundation.
Although based in Calgary, the group was looking for conservation efforts to support outside Alberta. The Devonian Foundation along with the province helped the CRD acquire the land that now makes up Devonian Regional Park.
From Victoria, follow Metchosin Road, which turns into William Head Road, and turn left at the sign for Devonian Regional Park.
Head to Devonian's beach for a reminder on what makes living on Vancouver Island so special - its spectacular views. firstname.lastname@example.org
DEVONIAN FAST FACTS
Difficulty Rating: 2-3
Highlights: Take in the view on a clear day of Victoria's skyline, Mount Baker, the Juan de Fuca Strait and the Olympic Mountains. Enjoy a picnic on the cobble beach, skip stones and beachcomb
Time: 15 minutes to walk through the trail to the beach
Facilities: Restrooms and picnic beaches at park entrance. Accessible by B.C. Transit.
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