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Gowlland Tod Provincial Park
Attention Visitors – Important Notice!
Dogs must be on leash while in provincial parks
BC Parks would like to remind visitors of the requirement for all dogs to be on leash while in Provincial Parks. Failure to keep your dogs on leash is subject to fines under the Park, Conservancy and Recreation Area Regulation, and can result in serious public safety situations.
Report any cougar sightings
Any sightings or encounters with cougars should be reported to the Conservation Officer Service as soon as possible at 1 877 952-7277 (RAPP).
About This Park
Gowlland Tod Provincial Park provides excellent day-use recreation opportunities for hiking, nature appreciation and picnicking. More than 25 kilometres of trails, varying in degree of difficulty, offer spectacular views, as well as the chance to view animals in their natural environment. In spring and early summer, the moss-covered rocky knolls come alive with a carpet of colourful, vibrant wildflowers.
Located near Victoria on southern Vancouver Island, the park preserves a heritage of green space for present and future generations. It encompasses nearly the entire east side of Saanich Inlet, stretching from Goldstream to Brentwood Bay and the world-famous Butchart Gardens.
Gowlland Tod protects a significant part of the Gowlland Range, one of the last remaining natural areas in Greater Victoria, and a significant portion of the natural shoreline and uplands of Tod Inlet. The Gowlland Range is a particularly rich area of biodiversity, with more than 150 individual animal and plant species identified. The protected area preserves a rare, dry coastal Douglas fir habitat that features grassy meadows, rocky knolls and old-growth forest. The park also protects a wetland area which provides habitat for the blue-listed Northern red-legged frog and associated riparian areas habitat for the fragrant white rein orchid.
The Gowlland Range towers 430 metres over Finlayson Arm, a unique fjord that only replenishes its marine waters once a year. Species that are rare elsewhere in the world flourish in this isolated and stable habitat. The abundance of marine activity attracts scuba divers from around the world, as well as boaters seeking the calm waters and sheltered anchorage of Tod Inlet.
Visitors to the park will find reminders of the area’s early pioneer activity, as well as remains of settlements associated with the Vancouver Portland Cement Company, which thrived here in the early 1900s. The area has been, and continues to be, important to First Nation peoples, who utilize areas of the park for medicinal, ceremonial and spiritual purposes.
Established Date: July 22, 1995
Park Size: 1,280 (955 hectares of upland and 325 hectares of foreshore)
Know Before You Go
- Bring your own drinking water as potable water is not available in the park.
- Be prepared for wilderness hiking conditions.
- Be prepared for sudden weather changes. Extreme and adverse weather conditions can occur at any time, all year long.
- Be prepared with appropriate outerwear and footwear for wet weather, foggy and slippery conditions. Carry adequate supplies to allow for an emergency on day hikes.
- Leave a detailed trip plan, including intended route and estimated return time, with a friend or relative.
- You are reminded to assist in retaining and conserving the fragile habitats of the park. Many rare or endangered plant and animal species can be found in the park. In order to protect their extremely fragile habitat, portions of trails may be closed or seasonally relocated. Please stay on designated marked trails and observe the code of ethics for hiking or other activities.
- There is no boat launch in the park. The nearest launch is located at Brentwood Bay.
Location and Maps
The park is located on the east side of Saanich Inlet on Southern Vancouver Island. There are three park accesses: Tod Inlet, Mackenzie Bight and Caleb Pike.
The Tod Inlet access is located near Brentwood Bay, off Wallace Drive; Mackenzie Bight access is located off Rossdurrance Road, off Willis Point Road; the Caleb Pike access is on Caleb Pike Road, off Millstream Road near Langford. Gowlland Tod Park can also be accessed by boat via Tod Inlet.
Nearby communities include: Brentwood Bay, Saanich, Sidney, Langford, Colwood, Victoria.
Maps and Brochures
Nature and Culture
- History: Established in 1995, Gowlland Tod was dedicated under the Commonwealth Heritage Legacy Program, which was created to commemorate the spirit of the XV Commonwealth Games held in Victoria in 1994. Comprising more than 1,200 hectares, the park is a result of a unique partnership between the provincial and local governments, organizations and companies. The focus of this park is to preserve a heritage of green space on southern Vancouver Island for present and future generations.
- Cultural Heritage: The long history of settlement on Finlayson Arm is evident from the many archaeological village and midden sites found here. There is continuing importance of this area to First Nations for medicinal, ceremonial and spiritual values. An early copper mine, Vancouver Portland Cement Company (later developed as Butchart Gardens), the Caleb Pike homestead and an extensive network of old logging and mining roads are testament to the early pioneer settlement in the area.
- Conservation: Tod Inlet has long been valued for its natural beauty, ecological significance and recreational opportunities. The range of habitats and the waters of the inlet, the shoreline, Tod Creek and uplands support a diversity of wildlife. Blue herons, bald eagles, Peale’s peregrine falcons, river otters, black-tailed deer and red squirrels frequent this area, as well as black bears and cougars. Dozens of plant species, some rare or threatened, are found in the mixed forest of arbutus, western red cedar, alder and coastal Douglas fir. Pockets of Garry oak forest, recognized as one of the most imperiled ecosystems in Canada, are located throughout the park. The rugged highlands of the Gowlland Range preserve rare, dry coastal Douglas fir habitat and feature grassy meadows, moss-covered rocky knolls and old-growth forest. More than 150 individual plant and animal species have been identified here including many birds and wildflowers. Nine identified species at risk, including the phantom orchid and Peale’s peregrine falcon, can be found in the park. The Gowlland Range towers 430 metres over Finlayson Arm, a unique fjord that only replenishes its marine waters once a year. Species that are rare elsewhere in the world flourish in this isolated and stable habitat.
- Wildlife: Blue herons, bald eagles, Peale’s peregrine falcons as well as river otters, blacktail deer and red squirrels frequent this area.
- Management Planning Information
- Approved Management Plan for Gowlland Tod Provincial Park [PDF]
This is not the original management planning product. This document has been scanned from the original format of the plan. It may contain some formatting changes, however the content is consistent with the original.
Activities Available at this Park
Pets on Leash
Pets/domestic animals must be on a leash and under control all times. You are responsible for their behaviour and must dispose of their excrement. Tod Inlet is home to waterfowl nesting areas and salmon spawning streams. Visitors must keep their dogs on leash and under control at all times to ensure their pets don’t disturb these sensitive areas. Dogs are not allowed on the sandy beach at the Tod Inlet dinghy dock.
Backcountry areas are not suitable for dogs or other pets due to wildlife issues and the potential for problems with bears.