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“Beautiful”

Swan Lake Christmas Hill Nature Sanctuary
Ranked #5 of 13 things to do in Saanich
Attraction details
Victoria, Canada
Level 5 Contributor
73 reviews
32 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 24 helpful votes
“Beautiful”
Reviewed July 6, 2014

I took my Meetup Group there for a hike around the lake. I had never been there before so I was not sure what to expect. It is certainly a bird sancturary. They are everywhere. The Nature house does not open until noon on the weekends, so if arrive early and you have to use the washroom, which I did, you have many trees to pick from. Would be nice to see an outhouse somewhere along the trail. I found some of the trails are not great for strollers. There is no cost but a donation is appreicated. There are no picnic tables either to enjoy a picnic or lunch. I guess it would be probably a good thing with all the birds around. Overall, it was a peaceful walk.

Visited July 2014
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Thank NavygirlComox
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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20 reviews from our community

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Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
Victoria
Level 4 Contributor
40 reviews
15 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 32 helpful votes
“A relatively convenient way to experience nature in the city, but the traffic can be noisy!”
Reviewed August 4, 2013

I'm a local who visits periodically and thinks the sanctuary is worth a visit for out-of-towners who want a nature-oriented change from the usual touristy attractions in Victoria. The sanctuary consists of a nature house, lake and surrounding wetlands, and nearby Christmas Hill, all connected and surrounded by well-marked walking trails. Depending on the time of year, native turtles, a variety of native birds, and even otters can be seen from the boardwalk which extends across one arm of the lake. The hill contains Garry oak woodland and spring wildflowers, has nice views of Greater Victoria, and is a relatively easy walk. The Nature House is a good first place to stop to find out about the site's history and ecosystems, trails, programs, and ecological restoration projects. Staff are very knowledgeable and friendly. There is no charge to enter although donations are welcomed. However, trails can be accessed from any number of locations.

Access to the Nature House is easy and convenient for those with a car, but more difficult via city bus. For cycling visitors, access from downtown is convoluted at best and the route is not always well-marked. The "best" cycling approach from downtown may be to get onto the Galloping Goose (paved) trail, turn onto the Lochside (again, paved) trail, cut through the Saanich Municipal Hall parking lot to a paved path adjacent to Hwy17, then follow the street east to the nature house where there is a bike rack. If one doesn't get lost, a cycling trip to Swan Lake can easily be extended to Blenkinsop Lake and to Mount Douglas Park for additional hiking and views.

The sanctuary is surrounded by urban Saanich, is adjacent to Highway 17, and the lake and hill are separated by a major thoroughfare. Hence, nature sounds in the sanctuary can be overwhelmed by traffic noise. That's my one complaint, although I appreciate that noise happens in an urban setting. A quieter (but further from downtown) nature experience can be had in Mount Douglas Park, especially before noon.

Visited August 2013
Helpful?
Thank 65Rambler
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Victoria, Canada
Level 4 Contributor
40 reviews
14 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 26 helpful votes
“A birders/photographers paradise!”
Reviewed June 13, 2013 via mobile

Early mornings are best for this stellar location! Lots of other photogs out and the occasional jogger ignoring signs and jogging on the boardwalk despite the annoyance of others. Beautiful in the spring with wildflowers in abundance! Great nature house too with snakes, frogs and fish! Bring the kids and feed the ducks while you are there. Grain is sold in the nature house to help support programing at the centre(worth checking out as well!)

Visited February 2013
Helpful?
1 Thank mec380
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Vancouver Island, Canada
Level 4 Contributor
43 reviews
16 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 17 helpful votes
“Peaceful”
Reviewed May 6, 2013

The path to Christmas Hill is 2 minutes away from our place. It is a short hike up a slight incline and the view at the top is gorgeous. The rock formations at the top are very unique and is the home of many beautiful plants and flowers. The Swan Lake part of the Sanctuary is just as nice. It includes a bridge all the way across the lake. The walk is about 2.5 km and the nature house supplies seeds if you wish to feed the ducks. It is a lovely contribution to Victoria and locals would get the most out of it. I sure appreciate having it so close.

Visited May 2013
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1 Thank Snoopyslim
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Victoria
Level 6 Contributor
246 reviews
120 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 156 helpful votes
“Required for nature lovers”
Reviewed February 27, 2013

This is a large urban sanctuary, a ten minute drive from the centre of Victoria. Excellent nature house, well posted trails, places to get onto the lake, lots of birds. If you have kids this is a must do, even if you only have two days in Victoria. You can get a feel for it in an hour, but you could easily spend three or four there.

Visited September 2012
Helpful?
Thank ianjc
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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