While on a trip to Victoria in the summer of 2020, I embarked on a hike in Gowlland Provincial Park. The hike takes you alongside Finlayson Arm. For a hiker used to the landlocked views of the Rockies, it was so much fun to hike along the water.
Jocelyn Hill is a 8.9 km loop with 438 m of elevation gain. Enough elevation to feel like a hike, but not as drastic as many of the mountain hikes in the Rockies. We were hiking on a warm day at the beginning of July, so the shade that covers much of the trail was greatly appreciated.
The trail begins through forest, but as you approach Holmes Peak, a view of Finlayson Arm opens up. The trail heads uphill, to give you a view of the entire arm. Though the sky was overcast, the air was warm and we were ready for a break at the top of Holmes Peak, to rest and rehydrate.
The top of the hill had a treat waiting for us. An adorable wooden swing sits below a branch of large tree at the peak of the hill. We took turns using the swing, and marvelled as our feet seemed to swing right above the water. We spent probably too much time here before moving on, but luckily the trail wasn’t too busy so we weren’t rushed by other hikers.
We continued along the trail, turning back into the forest, with occasional views of the water, but mostly amongst the trees. We spotted a banana slug on the path and we careful not to squish it.
We approached Jocelyn’s Hill and found the area bustling with other hikers. We sat near the steep edge leading to the water and watched the birds below, diving for fish. We ate here, taking in the views before continuing. At the far end of the loop, there is a large rock jutting out from the hillside. We climbed the rock to get a view of the islands beyond. We could see the Malahat across the water.
We decided to take the inner loop back down, rather than following the trail we took up. This path is more shaded, as it doesn’t wind in and out of the trees like the west side of the loop. The air was cooler here, which was refreshing after the warm hike up. The loop rejoins the original trail a little before Holmes Peak. We didn’t stop at the swing on the way back, having spent so much time there on the way up.
This was a gorgeous hike, that was not too strenuous, but I would consider moderate for the length. I would definitely recommend this trail to anyone who is in the Victoria/Saanich area!