I’m also looking for hikes that are easy to moderate skill level. My oldest daughter, aged 8, has hiked around Mt. Doug quite a bit but with the younger sisters, we want something a little easier – they are usually for 60 minutes at most. We also like hikes that have a varied elevation change as opposed to a straight uphill hike for 45 minutes. I can hear the kids now: “Are we there yet?”
Great Family Hikes in the Oak Bay / Fairfield area
Anderson Hill Park
Anderson Hill Park is a hidden gem in south Oak Bay. Accessible from Island Road or a pathway of Transit Road, this park is quite an easy hike for kids ages 4 and up. It has plenty of open space so older kids can run ahead while still remaining in sight of parents. As a hike, this park can probably be traversed in 30 minutes, but a typical visit to Anderson Hill for my family usually last about an hour. Great views of the Trial Islands and the Straight of Juan de Fuca.
Tip: In the northwest corner of the park, atop an old Douglas Fir is a resident eagle. We usually see it about 1 in 4 visits.
Old Observatory (Gonzales Hill Park)
Back in my teens, this was not officially a park and simply called the “Old Observatory”. I used to climb the fence to hike around this area, and when I took my kids here recently, we were prepared to do the same. I was delighted to learn: no trespassing required – the Old Observatory is now a park accessible to the public (officially called Gonzales Hill Regional Park). Like Anderson Hill, this park is a fairly easy climb but with some steep rocky knolls. A great spot for watching the sun as it sets behind the Sooke Hills, Gonzales Hill Park is accessible off King George Terrace or Fairfield Place.
Walbrank Park is fairly unknown. It is only accessible by Dennison Road, a fairly untraveled road off Beach Drive. That is, unless you know of the hard-to-find pathway that leads to the park from King George Terrace (corner of King George and Sunny Lane). The pathway from King George Terrace is worth trying to find. Once you do, you will be taken on a 10 minute climb up to Walbran Park. The views are spectacular.
The park is divided into two halves, split by Dennison Road. The north half of the park features a historical marker cairn as well as some great views of Victoria. The southern half of the park feature a historical WWII lookout point and has sweeping view of the Juan de Fuca and Haro Straights. Both parts of the park are good moderate hikes for kids 5 and up.