The view from Mount Finlayson
The view from Mount Finlayson in Goldstream Provincial Park

Hiking Safety

Hiking along British Columbia's beautiful, but often rugged, trails means there is the potential risk of injuring yourself or becoming lost. It is important to take the proper precautions to ensure your safety.

Preparation

  • Plan your hike thoroughly, finding as much information about the route and area as you can, including terrain, elevation change, weather for that day, tidal information (if hiking near the coast or an inlet), etc.
  • Ensure you are in proper physical condition for completing such a hike.
  • ALWAYS tell someone where you are going and when you plan on being back. Be detailed about the area where you will be hiking in case they have to pass this information along to search and rescue.
  • It is never recommended to hike alone.

What To Bring

The following is a recommended guideline for the 10-essentials that you should pack when hiking. These safety supplies will be very valuable if you become lost or injured and have to spend the night in the woods.

  1. Flash light
  2. A signalling device, like a whistle
  3. A fire making kit
  4. Extra food and water
  5. Extra clothing
  6. First aid kit
  7. A pocket knife
  8. Navigation and communication devices
  9. Emergency shelter or blanket
  10. Sun protection

Wild Animals Animals

Cougars

There are known to be LOTS of cougars on Vancouver Island and many have been spotted on trails close to the Victoria area. Cougars can be dangerous for anyone but particularly dangerous towards children and dogs.

If you encounter a cougar:

  • Stay calm, immediately pick up your child and / or leash your dog, and slowly back away. Maintain eye contact with the cougar and do not run.
  • If the cougar follows you, continue to maintain eye contact, make lots of noise, and grab sticks and rocks to defend yourself. Stay as "big" as possible to convince the cougar that you are not prey it should mess with.
  • If the cougar attacks you, fight back. Use rocks, sticks, or anything else you can as a weapon. Try to focus the attack around the cougar's face.

Bears

Black bears are common throughout Vancouver Island and have been spotted on many hiking trails around Victoria.

If you encounter a black bear:

  • Stay calm and avoid eye contact with the bear as they might see that as a sign of aggression. Talk softly to the bear as you slowly back away.
  • If a bear follows you, drop something as a distraction. Dropping food should only be done as a last resort as bears will the associate food with humans.
  • If the black bear charges, do whatever it takes to escape. If the bear attacks, fight back using anything nearby as a weapon.

Grizzly bears are not known to live on Vancouver Island.

Other Wildlife

There is plenty of other wildlife that you can encounter while hiking, including many types of birds and sea animals. Sea lions and orca whales have even been spotted along the hiking trails near the Haro Strait or the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Stay at a safe distance from wildlife and do not feed any wild animals.

Photo of the Day

The view from the top of Bear Hill look north over Saanich, BC.

Trail: Bear Hill

The view from the top of Bear Hill look north over Saanich, BC.