Love heading out for a hike with your dog? You don’t want to leave your pup at home when you head out for some outdoors time. Luckily, with plenty of dog-friendly hiking trails, Victoria, BC is one of the best places to hit the trails with your four-legged friend.
Whether you’re a hiking pro or a beginner, Greater Victoria has plenty of great pet-friendly hikes that you can enjoy with your furry friend. There are hundreds of excellent hiking trails around the city, just waiting to be explored. You don’t even have to go that far out of town!
From paths through towering rainforests to difficult mountain summit hikes, there’s really something for everyone. And the best part? Most of the hiking trails in Victoria are dog-friendly so you have lots to choose from. You’ll never get bored!
If you’re not sure which hiking trail to start with, we’ve compiled some of the best dog-friendly options around Victoria. We’ve hiked through all of these parks and think they’re some of the best hiking spots in the city.
So grab the leash, get out there and explore!
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Best Dog-Friendly Hiking Trails in Victoria
Here are some of the best places to hike with your dog around Greater Victoria. Get out there and explore these awesome trails with your furry friend!
1. Thetis Lake Regional Park
Thetis Lake Regional Park is a favorite dog walking spot for many people and for good reason! There’s an extensive network of trails, the main path around Lower and Upper Thetis Lakes is beautiful and there’s also a dog-friendly beach where your pup can play and cool off.
With over 40 km of trails, Thetis Lake is one of the top places to visit in Victoria for any dog owner who wants lots of choices in hiking trails. Our favorite trail is the walk around Lower and Upper Thetis Lakes — it’s the perfect trail for dogs who love to swim and features some great viewpoints of the water.
Some other great options in the park are the climbs up Seymour Hill, Scafe Hill, or Mount Stewart. All of these trails will give you awesome views of the park!
Thetis Lake is generally off-leash year-round. However, there are seasonal restrictions for beach access with dogs. No dogs are allowed at the main beach at Thetis Lake or the Prior Lake beach and dock area during summer (June 1 – September 15).
Note: If you head to Thetis Lake with your dog, watch out for warnings of blue-green algae in the lakes. These algae blooms are toxic for dogs and occur every summer!
2. PKOLS (Mount Douglas Park)
Arguably, one of the best dog-friendly hiking areas in Greater Victoria is found at the spectacular PKOLS (pronounced p’kawls; also called Mount Douglas Park). Full of towering trees, lush ferns, awesome views, and numerous walking trails, you can wander around this park for hours with your pup!
Mount Doug (as the locals often call it) is a great place to start if you’re new to hiking with your dog. Unless you’re heading straight up the mountain, it’s not too strenuous and there are plenty of places to take a break along the way. The mountain is also right in the city, making it easy to access and less remote than some of the other wilderness parks.
If you want a straightforward walk, head up the paved Churchill Drive to the summit (you can also drive up). Or, give one of the off-road trails a try. We really like the hike to the summit on Irvine or around the mountain on Whittaker.
The views from the top of PKOLS are pretty amazing. Head to the summit and look for landmarks like downtown Victoria, Mount Tolmie, and Mount Baker. The panoramic vistas are breathtaking and worth the climb to get to the top.
Dogs are allowed off-leash at Mount Doug, but there are some seasonal restrictions on where they can go. From May 1 to August 31, dogs are not allowed in the beach areas by Cordova Bay Road.
3. Sooke Potholes Provincial Park
On a hot day, one of the best places to head in Victoria for some hiking and swimming with your dog is the Sooke Potholes Regional Park. There are plenty of swimming spots to take a dip in and your dog will love cooling off in the refreshing water. Just make sure to keep your dog leashed in this park.
The hiking trail at the Sooke Potholes leads you beside the Sooke River, with various beaches and swimming spots along the way. Hike between the beautiful beaches, like Ripple Rock and Sand Pebble Beaches, or spend the day relaxing by the water at one of the potholes.
Don’t want to go too far? Stop at Crescent Beach and enjoy swimming in the large pool of cool river water. There’s also cliff jumping but watch out for rocks!
The Sooke Potholes are also right beside the Sea to Sea Regional Park. Head for a hike to Peden Lake or Mary Vine Creek Waterfall, then wash away your sweat with a dip at the potholes!
4. Sea to Sea Regional Park
With 57 kilometers of trails, the Sea to Sea Regional Park is one of the biggest regional parks around Greater Victoria and one of the best spots for backcountry hiking with your dog. The trails here are moderate to challenging in difficulty, so make sure to wear good hiking shoes!
There are two sections to explore in the Sea to Sea Regional Park: Mount Manuel Quimper and the Lakes Section. All of the trails are excellent, featuring epic mountain viewpoints, mossy trees, beautiful waterfalls, and serene lakes. Your dog will need to stay on a leash throughout the park.
The hike to the summit of Mount Manuel Quimper is a 5.6 km trail one-way, starting from the end of Harbourview Road. At the top, you’ll be rewarded with awesome views of the Sooke Basin and the areas surrounding Sooke. For a shorter round-trip hike of 6 km, head up to the Mount Brulé summit, which still offers some incredible views but won’t take you as long.
The northern section of the Sea to Sea Regional Park offers a variety of beautiful lakes to choose from, including Peden, Crabapple, Shields, and Grass Lakes. Here, you can also hike up to the summit of Empress Mountain or find the beautiful Mary Vine Creek waterfall.
5. Gowlland Tod Provincial Park
Gowlland Tod Provincial Park is a beautiful protected area on the Saanich Peninsula, right beside Finlayson Arm. This stunning wilderness park is perfect for dog owners looking for a strenuous workout for themselves and their pups. There are over 25 km of dog-friendly hiking trails here, each offering unique experiences.
For incredible views of the Finlayson Arm fjord and Saanich Peninsula, we highly recommend either the Timberman Trail to the Squally Reach Viewpoint (6 km) or the Jocelyn Hill Trail Loop (9 km). Both are excellent dog-friendly hiking trails with amazing views of Greater Victoria at the top!
For a shorter dog walk, the hiking trails down to Tod Inlet or McKenzie Bight are both great options. Tod Inlet is accessed from Wallace Drive by Brentwood Bay, making it a great place to stop after exploring the dog-friendly Butchart Gardens. McKenzie Bight gets you up close to the waters of Finlayson Arm and is accessed from Ross Durrance Road.
Because Gowlland Tod is a provincial park, dogs are required to be on a leash at all times. Also, keep in mind that this is a backcountry area and you might run into wildlife like bears or cougars (this is the case for most parks around Victoria)!
6. East Sooke Regional Park
For a day of exploring the coast, head to East Sooke Regional Park with your dog. Here you’ll find 50 km of excellent dog-friendly hiking trails near Sooke that will take you along the rugged coastline, through vibrant rain forests, and up to beautiful inland hilltops.
One of the highlights of this gorgeous West Coast park is the incredible Coastal Trail. This 10.5-kilometer long hiking trail takes you along the rocky coastline of East Sooke, with amazing views of the Juan de Fuca Strait along the way. Start at Aylard Farm or Pike Road, and hike as far as you’d like. For those attempting the entire trail, make sure to park a second vehicle at the other end or you’ll be in for a long trek!
If you prefer forest walks, East Sooke Regional Park also offers several inland trails through the towering coastal forest. We enjoy the Mount Maguire Trail, as well as heading to Babbington Hill. Your dog will love hiking through the forest and smelling all the earthy smells!
7. Goldstream Provincial Park
For a park with lots of things to see, check out Goldstream Provincial Park near Langford. Only about 20 minutes from downtown Victoria, this beautiful riverside park features a salmon spawning stream, gorgeous waterfalls, and excellent dog-friendly walking trails through the West Coast rainforests of Vancouver Island.
With numerous hiking trails, Goldstream is a great place to explore with your four-legged friend. Check out some of the local waterfalls, including Niagara, Hidden Spring, and Goldstream Falls. Walk along the Gold Mine Trail to pass by an abandoned gold mine.
Or, if you want a more strenuous hike, try heading up Mount Finlayson for epic views of the area. Just watch out, some of the sections are quite steep for a dog!
This park is beautiful all year round and is especially nice in the fall when the leaves are changing colors and the salmon are running. However, you’ll need to keep your dog out of the river and on a leash at all times to protect the sensitive ecosystem. Also, the park gets quite busy during this season.
8. Mount Wells Regional Park
For a tougher dog-friendly hike, head to Mount Wells Regional Park by Langford. This 121-hectare protected area offers a challenging 1.3-km one-way trail to the summit of Mount Wells (352 meters).
At the top of Mount Wells, you’ll be treated to spectacular vistas, from the Sooke Hills to the Juan de Fuca Strait. You and your dog will have to work hard to get to the summit, but it’s well worth the effort!
Keep your dog on a leash on this trail — some parts of the hike are quite steep or have nearby dropoffs. You don’t want your pup getting into an accident!
9. Mount Work Regional Park
Mount Work Regional Park is an excellent spot for dog owners to head for a long hike. This massive 743-hectare regional park features 11 km of hiking trails that wind through the forest, around freshwater lakes, and up to the top of the mountain.
The hike up to the summit of Mount Work (449 meters) is a great workout. The trail is about 4 to 5 km long, depending on where you start (either Ross Durrance Road in the north or Munn Road in the south).
The park also has a few beautiful lakes — Killarney, Durrance, and Pease — where your dog can swim and chase sticks. Just make sure to stay off the beaches with your dog during the summertime!
10. Francis/King Regional Park
Francis/King Regional Park is a great place to head if you’re looking for a more relaxed hike. Even so, this 107-hectare regional park is full of natural beauty, from colorful wildflower meadows to ancient Douglas-fir trees.
You’ll find 11 km of dog-friendly walking trails at Francis King Regional Park. The trail difficulties range from accessible to moderately challenging. The Elsie King Trail is a great spot for those with limited mobility to take their dog for some time in nature.
If you want something longer, try the Centennial Trail which loops its way around most of the park. And, for those who really want to stretch their legs, try combining the Panhandle and Highland Trails into a long loop around the entire park.
Tips for Hiking with Dogs in Victoria
- Most regional parks and trails are dog-friendly, but some are on-leash only or have seasonal restrictions. Check on the CRD website to check the rules for each park. All provincial parks are on-leash only.
- Make sure to bring lots of dog poop bags, as you should pack out any excrement and garbage!
- There are some hazards you should watch out for in parks around Victoria. Here are some things to keep an eye out for: poisonous mushrooms, blue-green algae (cyanobacteria) in waterbodies, cliffs, unstable or slippery terrain, and wildlife.
- Wildlife is commonly spotted around Victoria, including raccoons, owls, river otters, deer, black bears, and even cougars. In the more remote parks, carrying bear spray to deter large predators is important. You should also keep your dog in sight, under control, and on a leash, in case you encounter a bear or cougar. Don’t allow your dogs to chase or harass any wildlife.
Top Travel Tips & Resources for Victoria, BC
- Travel Insurance – If you’re travelling internationally, travel insurance is a must for any trip. Being covered by insurance is especially important when you’re going to an adventure-filled place like British Columbia. If you injure yourself while adventuring, you want to have insurance! We recommend using SafetyWing for international travel insurance. They are affordable and have great policies for travellers, digital nomads, and remote workers. Also, SafetyWing provides COVID-19 coverage, which many other insurance companies don’t cover.
- Car Rental – We find the best deal on vehicle rental prices using RentalCars.com. They compare the prices for different car rental companies so you can find the best deals out there!
- Accommodations – We prefer booking all of our hotels, hostels, and other accommodations through Booking.com because they have a flexible cancellation policy. Also, there are lots of different options on their platform, from hotels to vacation homes. Alternatively, Expedia and Hotels.com are good for booking accommodations. For vacation home rentals, VRBO is an excellent choice (they have lower fees than Airbnb, many of the same properties, and are more ethical).
- Flights – You’ll find many good flight deals on Skyscanner or Google Flights. You can book flights through these websites and they’ll help you find the best prices and flight times. If you fly at less popular times (e.g. mid-week or red-eye flights), you can also save some money.
- Tours – Get the most out of your vacation by taking a guided tour! This is a great way to see the city, adventure to exciting new locations, and learn about the local culture. Viator or GetYourGuide are great options for booking tours.