Francis / King Regional Park has a network of forested trails to explore that pass old growth trees and lush west coast rain forest. There are interpretive signs throughout the park that contain education information about the plants and animals within the region and there is a Nature Centre that is open Saturdays, Sundays, and Holiday Mondays from noon to 4pm.
There are quite a few trails within the park and many of them are well marked. While you can customize your hike and choose the route that you want to take, we are suggesting one of a couple of options below: either the short Elsie King Trail or the longer Centennial Trail.
Elsie King Trail
This short loop is just 800-meters long and wheel chair accessible but it provides an impressive walk through the beautiful west coast forest of Francis / King Regional Park. The trail begins to the left of the Nature Centre building and follows a relatively smooth path along gravel or over boardwalks as it circles the forest. You will pass huge Douglas Fir trees as well as pass underneath an old fallen tree along the route.
This is a much longer route that circles a good portion of the park area. Adding an extra loop to the High Ridge Trail will mean the entire hike is about 5.3km long.
The Centennial Trail begins to the right of the Nature Centre (not the same path as the Elsie King TraiL) next to a sign and several bird feeders. Follow the trail as it leaves the parking lot area and heads along the forested route. The narrow trail is quite lush with greenery and vegetation, even though it's close to the nearby road. At a junction with the Shooting Star Trail, go right and continue following the Centennial Trail as it loops around the eastern part of the park.
Eventually the trail veers to the right and then left again before reaching a road. Carefully cross the road to the other side and walk into the forest, passing the gates. There are several trail junctions through the next section, so be sure to watch the signage carefully and continue to follow the Centennial Trail. Go right at the first junction and pass the Grand Fir Trail. Walk a short distance and then go right at the next two junctions that are close to each other, as you follow the signage.
The route then heads down a small hill as you continue your hike through the scenic first. Depending on the time of year, small creeks meander through the forest and section of trail can be quite muddy. At a junction next to a wooden bridge that passes through the mud, go right, then immediately go left at the end of the bridge. If you do not make the left and continue straight, you will end up in Thetis Lake Regional Park, so watch the signage and watch for the trail to the left.
The trail eventually reaches a junction with the High Ridge Trail and it is at this point where you will need to decide whether you want to extend your hike or return to the parking lot. To do a loop along the High Ridge Trail, go right and follow the trail through a short flat section before the trail begins to climb. At a junction go right to begin the loop through the forested route. Just after the trail makes a sharp turn to the right, make sure to go left to follow the High Ridge Trail and continue your loop. The trail passes along side the Highland Pacific Golf Course before passing over several rocks and eventually heading back to the junction at the beginning of the loop. After arriving at the junction, go right and retrace your steps back downhill and return to the junction where the High Ridge Trail meets the Centennial Trail.
From the junction with the High Ridge Trail, walk back towards the parking lot, passing the junction with the Heritage Grove Trail and the second junction with the Marsh Trail. The trail makes its way up a hill and reaches the road. Carefully cross the road and return to the parking lot next to the Nature Centre.
To drive to Francis / King Regional Park from downtown Victoria, drive towards Douglas Street and head north as you leave the downtown area. Douglas Street turns into Highway #1 as you leave the city. Take Exit #10: Burnside Road West Northbound and stay in the furthest right lane as you exit the highway.
After exiting, follow Burnside Road up the hill and go straight at the stop sign. Continue before turning left onto Prospect Lake Road. Drive along the weaving road and when you come to a junction, go left onto Munn Road. The gravel parking lot to Francis / King Regional Park will be on your right just a few seconds later.
Dogs must be leashed when on the Elsie King Trail. On all other trails in Francis / King Regional Park, dogs must be under control at all times. Please ensure to pick-up after your dog and stay on the trails to not disturb the sensitive ecology.
Toilet facilities are located near the parking lot for Francis / King Regional Park. There are no other toilets on trails throughout the park.