The trail that loops around Elk / Beaver Lake is a popular route for those looking for a longer 10km walk or jog. The terrain is relatively flat and following the trails that are next to the lakes make it easy to follow and provide several scenic views of the regional park area.
There are several parking areas around both lakes but it is recommended to park at the southend of Beaver Lake where there are some larger parking lots. The route described begins from the Nature Centre near Beaver Beach and goes in a clockwise direction.
From the parking lot, walk down the path towards the lake and go left, following the trail next to the water. The trail leaves the Beaver Beach area and within minutes, you arrive at a bridge to your right that crosses Colquitz River. Go right and cross the bridge, following the trail until you reach a 3-way junction. Go right at the 3-way junction and continue along the trail as it begins to leave the busy Beaver Beach area behind.
The path passes through a wooded area, giving occasional glimpses of Beaver Lake. To the right, a short path leads out onto a rocky outcrop with a bench, providing a panoramic view of the lake. Continue to follow the trail, taking the routes that are closest to the lake on your right.
The wooden trail ends when it rejoins a wider, gravel path that was once used as a railway line for the area. Follow the route as it takes you north along the west side of the lake. You won't notice but you will leave Beaver Lake behind and the larger Elk Lake will be to your right as you peer through the trees to try to see it.
Eventually, the trail arrives at a fishing pier, giving you a good opportunity to walk out and see a view of Elk Lake. Pass the fishing pier and walk along a few hundred meters along Bear Hill Road until you reach a sign on your right, pointing to the trail next to the parking lot. Follow the trail through another wooded area until you cross a wooden bridge over O'Donnel Creek and reach the Brookleigh Boat Launch area. The trail begins again on the far end of the gravel parking lot / boat launch.
The trail passes through another wooded area with beautiful forest scenery. As you exit the forest, continue walking along the gravel trail that is now surrounded by bushes until you reach the Hamsterly Beach area. With its park, picnic area, playground, and beach, this is a popular place during the summer months and is also a nice place to stop to enjoy the southward view of the lake.
After leaving Hamsterly Beach, the trail follows a route next to the highway. This is the least enjoyable section as you are walking within meters and just below the busy highway, so you will want to plan to move quickly through this area until you reach the Elk Lake Rowing Centre. Despite the traffic, there can be nice views of Elk Lake with Bear Hill in the background along this section of the trail.
Pass the Rowing Centre and continue along the open trail until you reach a junction with a trail on your right. Go right and follow this trail. There is a network of trails through this section of the park, however the best and easiest route to follow are the trails that stay near the shore and offer views of both Elk and Beaver Lakes to your right. Go right at all of the remaining junctions as the trail passes a small view of Beaver Lake at North Beach.
Continue walking along the trail until it opens up and you arrive back at Beaver Beach where you began your hike.
Elk / Beaver Lake is located in Saanich right next to Highway #17 to the Swartz Bay Ferry Terminal. From downtown Victoria, drive to Blanshard Street and head northbound out of the city. Blanshard Street will turn into Highway #17 as you leave the city area. At the traffic lights at Elk Lake Drive, turn left and follow the road as it immediate veers left so you are heading back south again. Within 500-meters, turn right into the park entrance and follow the narrow road into the forest. Continue following the road until it reaches the first large parking lot area and park your car, starting your hike along the trail next to the water.
Elk / Beaver Lake are accessible by bus via two routes, either Route 70: Swartz Bay / Downtown Express or Route 72: Swartz Bay / Downtown. Both route stop along Elk Lake Drive and then the park trails can be accessed by a short walk into the park. Route 72 takes roughly 1 hour and 15 minutes from downtown Victoria. Route 70, the express route, is shorter as it has fewer stops but does not run as frequently. Check with BC Transit for schedules.
Dogs are allowed around Elk and Beaver Lakes, however from June 1 - September 15, dogs must be on a leash while passing through and cannot stay at beach or picnic areas. Please make sure to pick up after your dog and remove all excrement.
There are several washrooms throughout the park, however most are only open during the summer months. Washroom facilities can be found at the two main parking lot areas at the south of Beaver Lake, at the boat launch at the northwest corner of Elk Lake, at the Hamsterly Beach area, at the Rowing Club, and at the Equestrian Centre.