Located in Gowlland Tod Provincial Park, the hike to Tod Inlet passes through a lush forest above Tod Creek before reaching the scenic inlet that is home to many different types of plants and wildlife. The main trail to the inlet has a fairly gradual hill and is relatively easy, requiring you to walk uphill on the way back. There is a route that follows the creek that can be taken on the way back to make a small loop, however it is more challenging with several steep uphill sections.
The area around Tod Inlet has plenty of history when it comes to industry. The inlet was used by the Vancouver Portland Cement Company for years and there are many remnants of old buildings, train tracks, and pillars that were used as a large dock for steamships. While the heavy industry is gone today, the park land sits right next to the popular tourist attraction, Butchart Gardens.
The trail to Tod Inlet begins on the north end of the Provincial Park. After parking along the gravel along the west side of Wallace Drive, walk past the metal gate and the wooden park signs and down a small hill to a junction. Immediately go right and follow this path as this will be the one that takes you all the way to Tod Inlet.
The beginning of the trail is wide and gradually descends down into the lush forest with the sound of Tod Creek below, towards your left. The trail passes through a narrow section with wooden railings meant to protect the sensitive ecology along the route. When you reach a map on the left of the main trail, there is a trail that goes down towards several viewpoints of Tod Creek. Continue walking down the main, wide trail and keep in mind that you will loop around and return to that map later in your hike.
Eventually you reach a clearing to your left where an old building used to be. Continue straight as the gravel trail merges with an old, cement road and follow that road to the end. Where the road loops around to the left, look for a path on the right side and follow that trail as it passes behind Butchart Gardens, before veering left and arriving at Tod Inlet. Walk to the end of the jetty for a scenic view of the area.
You are at the end of the hike at this point. Instead of walking back along the path you came, walk back and follow near the edge of the water, walking over a wooden bridge towards the dock. Continue up the gravel path to an open area with some park benches, continuing to enjoy the view of the inlet. There is an old building left over from the days when the cement factory dominated the area.
When you are ready to return to the parking lot, continue walking along through the open area by the water as it becomes a trail at the far end. Follow the trail for several minutes until it veers 90-degrees left. Almost immediately on your right, there is another trail. If you want to take a different route that follows Tod Creek that is a bit more challenging, go right at the point. If you would prefer to walk back along the main trail, continue walking straight where the trail meets the main trail within 40-meters, and then go right.
For those who are taking the other route along Tod Creek, after going right, follow the much narrower trail as it crosses two wooden bridges and follows a route through the forest, descending quickly down some wooden stairs. Pass a junction and continue walking right to the bottom where the trail opens up at the mouth of Tod Creek.
Walk back up the trail you came but go right at that junction you passed, following the trail uphill. This route has several stairs and steep sections as it passes along Tod Creek uphill, offering several views of the rushing water below. Hiking up one last steep section, you return to the wide trail next to the park map that you passed earlier. From here, go right and walk up the main trail back towards Wallace Drive where you parked. As you enjoy the beautiful forest, do not forget to go left at the junction before walking the last 50-meters to the metal gate.
The trail to Tod Inlet begins along Wallace Drive near Butchart Gardens. From downtown Victoria, drive to Blanshard Street and head northbound out of the city. Blanshard Street becomes Highway #17 the Patricia Bay Highway as you leave the city. Continue along the highway and take Exit #11: Royal Oak Drive. After exiting, turn left and cross over the highway following Royal Oak Drive for less than 1km. At the traffic lights, turn right onto West Saanich Road.
Follow West Saanich Road for about 5.5km, watching for signs to Gowlland Tod Provincial Park. Turn left onto Wallace Drive and follow it for about 3km. There is little signage for Tod Inlet, so it’s easy to miss but if you see cars parked along the road to your left, this is a good indication to the start of the trail. If you reach a stop sign at Benvenuto Avenue where there are signs to Butchart Gardens, you have missed the trailhead by about 700-meters and need to turn around.
The trail begins on the west side of Wallace Drive at a metal gate between Garden Gate Drive and Benvenuto Avenue.
There is a bus stop about 500-meters from the start of the trail to Tod Inlet. From Douglas Street in downtown Victoria, take bus #75: Saanichton all the way to the corner of Benvenuto Avenue and Wallace Drive, which is just up the street from Butchart Gardens. From this bus stop, walk south along the west side of Wallace Drive to the metal gate where the trail begins.
Bus #75 takes approximately 50-minutes, however you should check the schedule with BC Transit to ensure this route goes direct or whether you have to take a separate bus and transfer.
Dogs must be kept on a leash and under control at all times at Tod Inlet due to the sensitive ecology and water birds in the area. Please pick up after your dog and remove all excrement from the park.
There are outhouse toilets at the Tod Inlet area. There are no other toilets located along the trail or near the parking area.