Now that he’s marching on in years, Tucker’s daily walks are more gentle stroll than high-energy hike.
Lucky for us, our ‘hood’ on the Saanich Peninsula is abundant with short and scenic trails perfect for senior dog walks. Here are six of our favourites for you to try out!
A charming forested pathway loops 10km around Elk Lake, making it a popular spot for joggers but way too far for an old dog to get all the way round! So we typically park at Hamsterly Beach (easily accessible from the Patricia Bay Highway) and take the trail to the right of the parking lot as far as the boat launch, about 20 minutes away. We love this trail because it’s completely flat, the lake views are fantastic, the forest is cool and atmospheric, and there’s lots to admire along the way. Dogs are prohibited from the beach during the summer months, but there are several well established ‘dipping spots’ along the trail to enjoy a swim in the lake. While this is an easy and enjoyable walk, the route is busy and narrow in places, so if your dog doesn’t share space well, it may not be for you. Parking is free at Hamsterly Beach with no restrictions on how long you can stay, so you can take the time to journey as far along the pathway as you (or your dog) would like, before retracing your steps to the beachside lot.
West of the picturesque Saanichton village, Centennial Park is an interconnecting network of undulating forest pathways that your dog will love to explore! The winding trails meander through tall trees and lush greenery that provide an oasis of shade on hot sunny days. This is a popular local place for dog walking, so depending on the time of day, expect to see plenty of other pups and people around! Be aware that the northern side of the park has a few challenging inclines, but it is otherwise predominantly flat with smooth, even terrain. There are ample parking options in the small lots at the east and north entrances, or outside the adjacent ball diamonds. At the north end of the park you’ll also find a cute local farm stand with plants, flowers, and eggs for sale. Dogs can safely go off-leash in Centennial Park, but be aware especially when entering and exiting that it is not fully enclosed and bordered by busy roads.
Saanichton Bay Park
Accessed via a small, well-hidden parking lot tucked off Mount Newton Cross Road, this tranquil and unassuming little park is nestled between the waterfront and a row of private residences. The trail is flat and well-paved with wide grassy areas, offering a short but satisfying stroll at around 20 minutes from boundary to boundary and back again. If you appreciate a quiet and leisurely walk, this low-traffic route is a great option. Access the pebbly beach from one of several points along the trail, where your dog can have a paddle and you can admire the scenic ocean views. Though dogs can go off-leash on both trail and beach, the park is not fully fenced so escapes are possible!
Cole’s Bay Regional Park
For stunning bay views and a beach experience your dog with love, look no further than Coles Bay! Located about 10 minutes north of Brentwood Bay off the West Saanich Road, Coles Bay is a small, secluded yet charming regional park and one of our favourite after-work haunts. Unlike some of the busier local beaches, Coles Bay has no seasonal beach restrictions for dogs, so they can roam around freely and indulge their sniffers with the intriguing scents of the seashore. The beach is an easily accessible 500-metre walk from the main parking lot along a well-paved forested trail, but it does culminate in a moderate downward slope, worth noting for hounds and humans who may struggle with hills. Beach space is a little limited at high tide, but when the water subsides it reveals an impressive sand and pebble expanse littered in parts by shellfish (not suitable for eating though!). With clear, shallow, sun-warmed water and a big rocky beach to explore, Coles Bay is the perfect place to take your pup. Did we mention it’s off-leash too? Overall, a wonderful walk and well worth checking out.
Dominion Brook Park
Staying in North Saanich, but crossing to the east of the peninsula, you’ll find a delightful hidden gem in Dominion Brook Park. Beautifully maintained by local volunteers, this serene 11-acre space features majestic trees, a waterfall, an ocean view, and it’s very own ‘Rhododendron Ravine’, a separate trail where you can admire these impressive and brightly-coloured bushes when they bloom in spring. In addition to the rich variety of flora, dogs will enjoy the varied pathways and generously-sized open grassy area at the base of the park where they can have a run around. Not only are hounds welcome here, they can explore the park freely off-leash, with the exception of the Japanese garden which is off-limits to protect delicate plantings. Park for free right at the East Saanich Road entrance and access the park via trails to the north and south. The terrain is fairly flat and unchallenging, though there is a slight declivity from the park entrance which continues down to the easternmost border. This park showcases the true natural beauty of the Saanich peninsula and how the community works to preserve it, so we highly recommend a relaxing visit here.
Cy Hampson Park
To the south of Sidney, on Lochside Drive, this oceanside park is a safe and enjoyable off-leash location for dogs to run, play, and explore the beach. This flat, open grassy area is fully fenced akin to a dog park and runs parallel to the oceanfront, so you can choose to wander down one of two access pathways that emerge onto the pebbly beach. A gently paced loop of the park takes around 15 minutes, or a bit longer if exploring the shoreline. Though easily accessible from the Patricia Bay Highway, the slight downside to this location is that the small parking lot tends to fill quickly at peak times, including the mid-to-late afternoon, with limited on-street parking available. However, with its wide open space and beach access, this is an enticing spot for dogs with plenty to keep them busy!
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