Victoria is one of the most pedestrian-friendly cities in North America. Waterfront pathways make it possible to stroll virtually all around Victoria's waterfront. For some interesting self-guided walks around the city's historic areas, check out www.victoria.ca/tours or pick up a free walking-tour map at the city's visitor information center. Though popular with cyclists, the area's long-distance paths are also great for long walks. For views and elevation, check out the trail networks in the area's many provincial and regional parks.
Goldstream Provincial Park. This wilderness park, just 10 miles north of town, has a vast network of trails, from wheelchair-accessible paths through ancient Douglas fir and cedar forests to challenging hikes to the view-blessed peak of Mt. Finlayson. Trails also lead to the 157-foot Niagara Falls. Hwy. 1, at Finlayson Arm Rd., West Shore, Victoria, BC, V0R 2L0. 250/478–9414. www.env.gov.bc.ca/bcparks.
Mount Douglas Regional Park. Trails through the forest to the 758-foot summit of Mt. Douglas reward hikers with a 360-degree view of Victoria, the Saanich Peninsula, and the mountains of Washington State. Off Cedar Hill Rd., Saanich, Victoria, BC. 250/475–5522. www.saanich.ca.
Swan Lake Christmas Hill Nature Sanctuary. This sanctuary, with its 23-acre lake set in 150 acres of fields and wetlands, is just a few minutes from downtown Victoria. From the 1½-mile Lake Loop Trail and floating boardwalk, birders can spot a variety of waterfowl and nesting birds year-round. For great views of Victoria, take the 1½-mile round-trip hike to the top of Christmas Hill. The sanctuary's Nature House is open weekdays 8:30–4 and weekends noon–4. 3873 Swan Lake Rd., Saanich, Victoria, BC, V8X 3W1. 250/479–0211. www.swanlake.bc.ca. Free. Daily dawn–dusk.