Mt. Finlayson Hill Challenge
Goldstream and Highlands
Mt. Finlayson provides one of the most challenging climbs in the Victoria area. Though short, this loop route includes seriously technical trail and may not be suitable for novice runners. If this loop is not quite tough enough, you may extend the route by including the myriad of hilly trails in Goldstream Park, or the nearby 12-km (one-way) Gowlland Tod trail.
Mt. Doug - Mt. Tolmie Hill Challenge
One doesn’t need to travel far from downtown Victoria to find challenging hill climbs. This awesome loop includes two of Victoria’s best hills. Fortunately, the route begins with a long, gentle downhill, then several kilometres of flat running before the first climb starts…and it’s epic. Churchill Drive is a steep, unrelenting 1500m journey up to the top of Mt. Doug, where the view is spectacular! The route then plummets down a series of trails on the other side of the mountain, and follows rolling back streets to the foot of Mayfair Drive and the final climb. Though not as long as the road up Mt. Doug, the 600m Mt. Tolmie climb has its own take on intensity. Runners seeking an elevation challenge will enjoy this route!
Mt. Newton Hill Climb
Central Saanich and North Saanich
Hilly, with many delightful single track dirt trails, John Dean Park at the top of Mt. Newton provides a formidable vertical challenge. This 18.5 km route offers lightly used, yet very scenic trails, some quiet up-scale residential roads and several good climbs. Washrooms at top of Dean Park Rd. only. Little water available, so bring your own. Dogs can be off-leash, but under control.
Gowlland Tod-Mt Work loop
If the technical, 12-km one-way route over Gowlland Tod is not quite challenging enough for you, you can make an epic 22+ km run by adding the legendary Mt. Work and looping back to the start. This is an arbutus lover's dream! Spectacular views, lots of elevation gain and great trails make this a 'must-do' run for serious runners.
The Great Trail
Recently completed, The Great Trail starts at the Humpback reservoir near Goldstream Park and traverses the Malahat before ending at the south end of Shawnigan Lake. As part of the vast Trans Canada Trail, TGT is an engineering marvel, boasting a superbly built footpath over challenging terrain. Be prepared for some long uphill grades, but your efforts will be rewarded!
Colossal Cobble Hill Climb
Challenging single-track, great views and some awesome climbs... this 12-km Cobble Hill Mountain running route is epic! Prepare for a great adventure! To extend your run, you can include the trails around the Quarry (Kingslet Lake) and towards Kinsol Trestle.
Prevost Perfection or Pergatory?
One of the most challenging climbs in the Cowichan Valley, the views from the summit of Mt. Prevost are stunning and worth the pain. This area is blessed with a myriad of delightful trails, a great mix of terrain and some serious elevation gain. Most main trails are well marked. While the main trails are fairly well maintained, many of the smaller branch trails tend to be more technical “single-track”. Expect mountain bikers!
Epic Mt. Tzouhalem Challenge
This Mt. Tzouhalem Challenge route is truly epic. 20 km of technical single-track, challenging climbs to some of the most spectacular views on the southern Island, this is a must-do run for serious trail runners. For an easier route up the mountain, begin at the Kaspa Rd. trailhead at the top of The Properties subdivision off Maple Bay Road.
Maple Mountain Madness
The CRD has invested considerable effort developing Maple Mountain into an exceptional trail network for runners, mountain bikers and hikers. This challenging 22-km loop provides more than a taste of what makes Maple Mountain such an awesome destination for serious and not-so-serious runners alike. Blessed with a myriad of delightful single track trails, forest richly laden with maple and arbutus, and some serious elevation gain, we cannot recommend this park highly enough. Most trails are well marked. Caution: expect mountain bikers!
Cowichan Valley Routes
The Maxwell-Erskine Epic
Salt Spring Island
This almost 25-km loop will punish and reward in equal amounts. The climbs can be long and difficult in places, but the stunning vistas from the summits of Mt. Maxwell and Mt. Erskine erase all the pain of getting there. Forests bursting with maple and arbutus, delightful single-track and moss-covered old logging roads give runners an authentic taste of trail running on the Gulf Islands. Several kilometres can be omitted from this route by starting and finishing at Cranberry and Toynbee Roads, and selecting only one mountain loop to run.
Mt. Geoffrey Gallop
Mt. Geoffrey on Hornby Island is one of the very best running destinations on the coast! Immerse yourself in the myriad of delightful and easily runnable trails that meander through cool, fern-laden forests of maple, fir and arbutus on the lower sections of the mountain, then enjoy the great views over Denman and Vancouver Islands to the west on higher sections. Did we say runnable? You will love running these trails! Beginning and ending at the ferry (think pub!), this route will show you why we keep coming back year after year…
High Divide - Seven Lakes Basin Loop
At 30 km and with an elevation gain of 1620m, the High Divide - Seven Lakes Basin Loop near Port Angles, Washington makes for a worthy day trip from Victoria. Spectacular mountain scenery, delicious single-track running and enough climbing to satisfy any mountain goat, this route will reward the serious trail runner with an unforgettable experience. Note that bear spray is required.
At an elevation of 2093m, Mt. Albert Edward is one of the highest peaks in Strathcona Park, which is one of the largest parks on Vancouver Island. The route up Albert Edward begins and ends at Paradise Meadows (Mt. Washington) with a few hundred metres of easy boardwalk. From here the trail becomes increasingly more technical and steep the closer to Albert Edward one gets. This is high alpine running at its best: remote and scenic, with alpine lakes, wildflowers, whiskey jacks and incredibly crisp, clean mountain air! The final climb up the exposed, scree slope of Albert Edward is long and arduous, but spectacular vistas of snow-capped mountains are your reward. The return route takes you past several beautiful alpine lakes, where swimming is sublime and the perfect way to end your epic 33-km mountain run.