We were looking for a park near Victoria to take my elderly mother. It couldn't be a strenuous outdoor adventure since she had limited mobility, and the hike needed to be easily accessible, quiet and scenic. We found all of that in the beautiful Francis/King Regional Park.
There are over 11 kilometers of well-groomed trails in Francis/King Regional Park. We took my mother on the Elsie King Interpretive Trail, a short loop on a packed-gravel trail and a boardwalk. The path was well-groomed and easy, with benches, and there was even shelter for bird- and people-watching.
Located in suburban Victoria, this regional park feels more like a wilderness reserve than a city park. Urban sounds are absorbed by the thick forest of Douglas Fir and Arbutus trees. And these trees are huge!
As we were returning to the parking lot, we followed an organized tour group to one of the largest and oldest trees in the Victoria area. A short distance away, in Heritage Grove, was a 500 year old Douglas Fir with a circumference of over 32 feet! The tour was hosted by the Ancient Forest Alliance who regularly give "big tree" tours. We enjoyed visiting Heritage Grove. The ancient, towering trees reminded us of how brief our time here on earth is compared to theirs.
I briefly left my family to explore a little more while they continued to marvel at the old-growth trees. I continued along the path, down a steep grade and across a foot bridge. The Centennial Trail is a short loop that meanders past rocky outcroppings and a marshy area. Signs posts pointed to paths leading to the neighbouring Thetis Lake Regional Park.
The wildflowers were in full bloom and the ferns and moss covered all but the steepest rock faces. The bird calls were deafening and in the distance, the sounds of a woodpecker making a new home echoed through the trees. I had to watch my step so as to not step on any deer droppings. This was a wildlife haven.
This was an outstanding nature experience so close to the city. An afternoon at the Francis/King park was an pleasant family outing in the wilds of Victoria.