Goldstream Provincial Park is one of the best known and most frequently visited parks on Vancouver Island. Just 16 km from downtown Victoria, Goldstream Provincial Park is a true local gem. Steep mountainous terrain, towering trees, a cascading river flowing through to the ocean, incredible waterfalls, wildlife, hiking, walking, picnicking, camping and even an impressive salmon run in the fall are a few of the things that make this one of Victoria’s most popular parks.
When hiking around Goldstream you can cross through two dramatically different vegetative zones. On the slopes and lower regions along the river grow 600 year old Douglas fir and western red cedar trees, and a mix of hemlock, western yew, red alder, big leaf maple and black cottonwood.
Up on the drier ridges you will find arbutus, pacific dogwood, and lodgepole pine. The very distinctive arbutus, has thick leathery evergreen leaves, and very red, peeling bark. It is Canada’s only broad-leafed evergreen and is found exclusively on Vancouver Island , the Gulf Islands and the south coast. In the spring and early summer, colourful wildflowers, including the western trillium, calypso orchid, shooting stars, fawn lilies and many more appear in the forest glades
An extensive network of trails meander through Goldstream Provincial Park ranging from easy, wheelchair accessible walks to strenuous hikes that track along the river and creeks and up through the forested uplands. Trails start from either the day-use area or the campground on the west side of the highway. Some of the longer trails may take several hours to hike.
Some trails even pass abandoned gold diggings from the days of the Gold Rush! If you’re looking for a real challenge, you can climb to the top of Mount Finlayson, the highest point in Greater Victoria.
Mt. Finlayson Trail Warning: This trail is very steep and rugged; where proper footwear and clothing, and take water and snacks with you. Watch the weather, stay on the marked trail, and allow adequate time for return in daylight. The summit can be accessed from Finlayson Arm Road which is not as steep or arduous, or the day-use area.
Another trail leads you to the amazing Niagara Falls, which falls 47.5 metres down the rocky cliffs into the pool below. You can also hike a trail up to the top of the falls and you can carry on to a beautiful old railway bridge, built in 1910, spanning the Niagara Canyon. Do not climb onto the tracks or try to cross the bridge as these are on private property.
For your own safety and preservation of the park as the ecosystems of this park are fragile, hike only on marked trails and obey posted signs.
Click HERE for a map of the park and it’s trails.
There are limited biking opportunities at Goldstream Park. Bicycles are allowed on roadways and the paved trail from the day-use area to the Freeman King Visitor Centre, however, they are not permitted on the hiking trails. Bicycle helmets are mandatory in British Columbia.
There are two campsites at this park, with picnic shelters, woodstoves, electricity and water. These sites are reserveable during the main camping season. Reservation information
This park has a large day-use/picnic area with a picnic shelter, wood stove, flush toilets, fire rings and numerous picnic tables. Nature walks and trails of varying lengths starting at the day-use area offer the opportunity to see some of the park’s more notable features. This is not a reservable facility.
Freeman King Visitor Centre
The Visitor Centre at Goldstream Provincial Park is well worth a visit. It has some really interesting displays on the flora and fauna of the park and a small gift shop. Park naturalists are also available, offering interpretive programs and informative lectures about the area’s natural history for individuals and groups.
The building itself has some historical significance, being constructed in 1947 as a clubhouse for the Victoria Fish and Game Protective Association, It became a Provincial Park nature education centre in 1976.
The Freeman King Visitor Centre can be reached by a short trail from the day-use area parking lot. The centre is open daily, year-round. The trail is wheelchair accessible.
Dogs and other domestic animals must be on a leash at all times. They are not allowed in beach areas or park buildings. and you must pickup and dispose of their excrement. Due to the sensitive nature of the salmon spawning cycle, dogs must be kept out of the river. BC Parks recommends that backcountry areas are not suitable for dogs or other pets due to wildlife issues and the potential for problems with bears.
Goldstream River Salmon Run
The park is also the site of an annual salmon spawning run, which draws thousands of salmon and and visitors every year. Riverside trails and observation platforms provide great opportunities to view this natural phenomenon, which also attracts lots of Bald Eagles and gulls looking for an easy meal of dead salmon. The salmon appear about mid-October, and may be seen for about nine weeks, the dates varying from year to year. It is the Chum salmon that is most abundant in the Goldstream River however, you may also see some Coho and Chinook salmon, as well as Steelhead and the Cutthroat trout.
For more on the Goldstream Salmon Run, click this link.
For more images of Goldstream Provincial Park, or to purchase images, click this link.