Scafe Hill from Thetis Lake

Scafe Hill from Thetis Lake

Highlands

  • Difficulty
    Difficult

  • Time
    (Roundtrip)
    6 hours

  • Distance
    (Roundtrip)
    14km

  • Elevation
    198 meters

  • Dog Friendly
    Yes

  • Public Transportation
    Yes

  • From Downtown Victoria
    20 minutes

  • Camping
    No


Overview

The hike to Scafe Hill from Thetis Lake passes both Upper and Lower Thetis Lake, through several scenic, forested backcountry trails before climbing up the steep, southern slope of Scafe Hill to an incredible view. The trails north of Thetis Lake are much less traveled and offer some incredible moss covered terrain in a set in a beautiful west coast rainforest. The challenging hike up the last section to Scafe Hill rewards hikers with scenic views looking eastward and a second view looking northeast towards Gowlland Tod Provincial Park.

One should leave plenty of extra time to complete this long hike as several of the backcountry trails can be difficult to follow and somewhat confusing in some areas. For those looking for a much shorter route to Scafe Hill, it's best to follow the route starting from Westoby Road. There are several routes that can be taken to Scafe Hill from Thetis Lake but the description below follows routes that are within the Thetis Lake Regional Park area (not on private property) and tries to avoid trails shared with mountain bikers and horseback riders where possible.

Starting from the main parking lot at Thetis Lake, walk along the trail into the forest and within a few minutes, you arrive at the beach area at Lower Thetis Lake. Continue your hike by following the trail to the right of the lake and follow the route so that you stay close to the lake to your left. The rolling terrain offers many scenic views of Lower Thetis lake as you quickly move away from the crowds at the beach.

After walking just over 1km, go left at the junction. A short distance further and go left again across a bridge and continue to stay on the trail so the lake is on your left. Along the way, keeping looking to your left as you enjoy many scenic views of the lake.

When you reach a 4-way junction, go left and and within 20-meters, go right at a 2nd junction and walk up onto a rocky outcrop with a view of Upper Thetis Lake. Continue along the trail as you have left the lower lake behind and now are following a route with Upper Thetis Lake just to your left. The trail veers to the left and goes down a short hill to a junction on your right with a sign for the Seaborn Trail. Make sure to keep an eye out for the Seaborn Trail as it can easily be missed if you are moving quickly through the area.

The Seaborn Trail leaves the busy Thetis Lake area and heads up a much narrower, often muddy, rugged route and into the backcountry. Follow the trail as you carefully step up and over the tree roots. At the top of a small hill, go right (there is a small arrow on the tree) and continue following the trail next to a small rocky hill to your right. Amongst the green forest and moss, the trail is beautiful as you make your way along the narrow dirt route. The trail veers left and down a hill and crosses a wooden bridge where it reaches a 3-way junction immediately on the other side.

After crossing the bridge, you have now reached the McKenzie Trail. Going right takes you to Prior Lake, however we will go left and continue the hike towards Scafe Hill. The trail is fairly overgrown through this section but still easy enough to follow as it makes its way along McKenzie Creek. Pass over a small wooden bridge and continue through the forest until you catch a glimpse between the trees of McKenzie Lake. There is no easily accessible route to McKenzie Lake and the closest view is along the trail between the trees.

Continue along the McKenzie Trail, leaving the view of the lake behind. The next section is easy to get off track if you are not watching for the trail. As you pass through a forest section with a hill to your left, watch for a worn trail that goes up the hill and, as you hike up the hill, the trail becomes more obvious with the occasional trail marker on a rock. If you miss the worn path and end up at a makeshift log bridge over, you've gone too far and need to walk back about 50-meters. Note: Continuing the wrong way across the makeshift log bridge brings you to another wide trail and you can go left on this trail and get to the Bellamy Trail, which puts you back on the correct route, however this is not within the park boundaries.

Continuing on the McKenzie Trail, hike up the hill and and follow the trail around the rocks until it becomes to descend quickly. Watch your footing through the downhill section and as it levels, you reach a 3-way junction. Go right and follow the trail as it's relatively flat. Go left at a sign that marks the park boundary and continue a short distance until you reach the wide Bellamy Trail.

The Bellamy Trail is shared with mountain bikers and horseback riders and is an old logging road that heads northbound towards Scafe Hill. Go right and follow the route and keep following the park signage to say within the park boundaries as you pass a couple of junctions that head towards private property. After a good half-hour hike or longer, you reach a junction with the Scafe Hill Loop Trail. Go right at the junction and continue hiking along the wide path.

Watch for an unmarked path to your left that goes up a rocky trail and take this trail (Note: the trail approaches Scafe Hill from the south and is not on CRD maps. If you begin walking down a long downhill section, you have missed it). The rocky trail climbs very steeply and is very difficult keeping your footing was you walk on the loose rock. Continue the uphill trek and the trail slightly veers to the right and seems to get steeper.

Eventually, the trail levels and climbing up onto the rocks to your right gives you the first view looking towards the northeast. Take your time enjoying this incredible view after working hard to reach the top of Scafe Hill. A second view is located further along the trail. Return to the trail and follow it through a fairly fast section until you reach a junction. Go right at the junction and climb over a couple of rocks and up onto a rocky outcrop that looks northwest towards Holmes Peak and Jocelyn Peak in Gowlland Tod Provincial Park.

Once you have enjoyed the views, return to the trail and follow the route you took back to the first viewpoint, then begin hiking down the steep trail. Take your time walking down the trail as you watch your step on the loose rock. At the bottom, go right and follow the wide Scafe Hill Loop trail back to the junction, then go left at the junction and walk southward along the old logging route known as the Bellamy Trail.

Pass the first couple of junctions, following the signs and staying within the park area (except a brief section of the Bellamy Trail that passes through private land) until you reach the McKenzie Trail which you came from earlier. Go left onto the McKenzie Trail and follow this route as it's more scenic and meant for hikers only.

Hike past the junction with the park boundary sign and at the junction where you came from along the McKenzie Trail earlier, this time go right and take the route that you did NOT come from as it weaves through the forest and reaches another junction a short distance later at the bottom of a small hill. Go left at this junction and continue to follow the trail towards Upper Thetis Lake as it passes over rocky areas and through an incredible, lush rainforest. Go left at another junction and continue through the forest until you eventually make your way up a small hill, down the other side and reach the Upper Thetis Lake Trail with the lake visible between the trees.

From this point, go right and continue your loop around Upper Thetis Lake as you head back towards the parking lot. Cross a small bridge and go left at the next two junctions, passing the trails that lead to Phelps Road, as you follow the lake so it's just to your left. There continues to be several scenic views of the lake combined with sections that pass through forest.

The trail will eventually reach a junction with the Trillium Trail. Go right and walk up the short hill as the trail veers left and reaches a boat launch and small gravel parking area. Walk across the gravel to where the trail continues and follow it as it passes, what is now Lower Thetis Lake, just to the left. Just after passing the water next to the trail, a 15-20 minutes side route goes left and out onto a rocky section offering views of Lower Thetis Lake.

Back on the trail, continue past this side route and up the straight hill, going left at the next trail junction. Within meters, you reach the Thetis Lake beach area where you began your long hike. Return to the parking lot by walking back and away from the beach and following one of the trails directly south.


Driving Directions

The hike to Scafe Hill from Thetis Lake begins from the parking lot near Thetis Lake. From downtown Victoria, drive to Douglas Street and head northbound out of the city as Douglas turns into the Trans-Canada Highway (Highway #1). Continue driving along the highway and take Exit #10 to View Royal / Colwood. Make sure that you stay in the left lane just after exiting as you pass underneath the highway. Now on Island Highway, follow this road a short distance and turn right at the lights onto Six Mile Road. Follow Six Mile Road as you, again, pass under the highway, and before arriving at a large parking lot. Park in this parking lot and the trail begins at the far corner.


Public Transportation

Bus #50: Langford / Downtown via Coldstream stops near Thetis Lake but it will require an approximately 20-minute walk from the bus stop to the Thetis Lake area and the start of the trail. This bus begins from Government Street next to the Parliament Buildings and has multiple stops along Douglas Street. The bus ride takes about 40-minutes.


Additional Information

Dog-Friendly

Under-control dogs are allowed on the trails around Thetis Lake and Scafe Hill, however they must be on a leash and cannot stay at beach and picnic areas from June 1 - September 15. Please make sure to pick up after your dog and remove all excrement from the park.

Toilets

There are bathrooms located in the building by the main beach area of Thetis Lake. The main beach is located a few minutes walking distance from the parking lot and is the area for the start and finish of your hike around the Thetis Lake area. There are no other toilet facilities along the trails in the park nor are there any facilities near Scafe Hill.

Although we try to keep information as current as possible, www.victoriatrails.com makes no warranty or representation as to the availability, quality, fitness for purpose, conditions or accuracy of the information provided with respect to this trail or trails. The information provided herein is further subject to our Terms of Use.

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