Improvements are being made to a popular destination for hiking and mountain biking in a section of Gowlland Tod Provincial Park on Vancouver Island.
Approximately 16 kilometres of multi-use trails in the Partridge Hills area are being formalized and upgraded with new boardwalks and bridges, along with signs to provide clear directions for people using the trails. A small gravel parking lot is being developed at the trailhead to improve safety and help to reduce congestion along the shoulder of Willis Point Road.
Partridge Hills is near Durrance Lake on the Saanich Peninsula and has approximately 24 kilometres of unmapped trails created by hikers and mountain bikers. Some trails are damaging sensitive ecosystems and creating difficulty for first responders trying to find lost or injured people.
About 7.6 kilometres of user-created trails in ecologically sensitive areas are being closed to protect rare and sensitive dry coastal Douglas-fir habitat that includes rocky outcrops, meadows, wetlands and fragile bluff ecosystems. Ecological restoration work will take place in these areas.
Established in 1995, Gowlland Tod Provincial Park has more than 25 kilometres of multi-use trails that are accessible from three trailheads. The park protects a significant portion of the Gowlland Range, which is one of the last remaining natural areas in Greater Victoria, and a significant portion of the natural shoreline and uplands of Tod Inlet.
The South Island Mountain Biking Society has volunteered to work with BC Parks to maintain the multi-use trail system. Construction is expected to be underway until June 2023. During this time, there will be intermittent trail closures.
The project cost is estimated at $500,000 and is part of a $21.5-million investment to expand and enhance opportunities for outdoor recreation throughout the province, which includes new campsites and trails, and upgrades to existing facilities.