The challenging hike to Jocelyn Hill from McKenzie Bight in Gowlland Tod Provincial Park follows the Timberman Trail and passes some scenic views of the Saanich Arm looking west towards the Malahat. One of the most popular viewpoints, and an endpoint for some hikers, is the Squally Reach Viewpoint which sits high above on a rocky outcrop, offering a great view on a sunny day.
The trail is easy to follow and well defined but a steep uphill section along the Timberman Trail between the Cascade Falls junction and the Squally Reach Viewpoint makes for a challenging hike.
From the parking lot area at McKenzie Bight, walk along the road heading southwest for about 300 meters until you reach a metal gate with a sign pointing to the Timberman Trail. Follow this trail as the terrain is an easy walk through a beautiful, lush west coast forest. Within about 15-minutes, you will reach a bridge and a trail junction just on the other side. The Timberman Trail continues to Jocelyn Hill to the left, however you might want to make a quick side trip to the right and down part of the steep trail to see the scenic waterfall called Cascade Falls.
After going left at the junction, continue along the Timberman Trail as it remains relatively flat for about 5-10 more minutes, at which point, it begins to climb steeply. The relentless uphill feels like it goes on forever, as you pass some trees in the middle of the trail and then walk up some wooden steps.
Note: Some older park maps show an area called the Saanich Inlet Viewpoint, however this view is largely blocked by trees. In addition, some maps show a side trail that goes to the Malahat Viewpoint. This trail is blocked by a log and is not recommended. The view at Squally Reach will be much better.
After hiking uphill for quite sometime, the trail will dip down into a small ravine and cross a wooden bridge over a scenic creek. This marks the end of the long, steep uphill section as the next section of trail will have a variety of more gradual uphill and downhill sections. After crossing the bridge, follow the trail and within roughly another 15-minutes, you reach a sign pointing to the Squally Reach Viewpoint to your right. Follow the side trail out onto the rocks and admire the incredible view.
Return to the trail and continue hiking towards Jocelyn Hill. The trail passes through various sections of vegetation, some areas having lots of moss, some much drier, some dirt trail sections, and some that are very rocky.
After hiking for about an hour from the Squally Reach Viewpoint, you reach a junction with a sign and map. Go right and begin hiking up to the top of Jocelyn Hill. The trail weaves its way around, climb up over slippery rock while offering little in the way of views. The first view point will be on your left and looks directly south over the other hills in Gowlland Tod Provincial Park and towards Mount Finlayson.
The best viewpoint is located on the west side of Jocelyn Hill and you will have to continue hiking as the trail wrap arounds the summit before heading south. The viewpoint will be on the right in an open clearing, where you can step down onto the rocks and find a place to enjoy the view overlooking the Saanich Arm.
After stopping for lunch and enjoying the view, you can either return the way you came or continue to follow the trail as it descends steeply and arrives at a junction with the Jocelyn Hill Loop Trail. Go left at this junction and within about 300 meters, go left at another junction that returns you to the Timberman Trail. Hike along this route until you reach a 3rd junction, which is the one you arrived at earlier to go up to Jocelyn Hill. This time, go right at this junction and begin the long hike back towards McKenzie Bight.
Jocelyn Hill can also be hiked from Caleb Pike at the south end of Gowlland Tod Provincial Park. Or, if you are able to plan it so you can park a vehicle at both ends, you can do Jocelyn Hill as a through-hike taking you from one end to the other.
The McKenzie Bight area of Gowlland Tod Provincial Park is easiest accessed via the West Saanich Road from the Victoria area. From downtown Victoria, follow Blanshard Street northbound as it leaves the city and turns into Highway #17 heading towards the ferries. Take Exit #11: Royal Oak Drive. After exiting, turn left and cross over the highway, following Royal Oak Drive to the 4-way intersection with West Saanich Road. Turn right onto West Saanich Road and follow this road for the next 5-6km. Turn left onto Wallace Drive and Drive 0.5km. Turn left onto Willis Point Road and drive about 4km until you see signs for Gowlland Tod Provincial Park. Turn left at the signs, onto Ross Durrance Road and the gravel parking lot will be within 200 meters on your left.
Note: If the parking lot is full, you are allowed to park alongside the road, however you must park off the road so that your tires are not on the pavement. Parking can be an issue in this area on a busy weekend.
Dogs are permitted in Gowlland Tod Provincial Park but must be kept on a leash at all times. There is wildlife in the park, including several cougar sightings annually, so it is important to be extra cautious for your and your dog’s safety. Please ensure to pick up after your dog and remove all excrement from the park.
There are no toilets located on the trail to Jocelyn Hill. However, there are pit toilets located near the parking lot at McKenzie Bight but you will have to walk down the McKenzie Bight Trail a short distance to reach them (only a few minutes from the parking lot).