Swan Lake Christmas Hill Nature Sanctuary is for everyone

The Nature Sanctuary is an accessible greenspace in urban Victoria, BC that works to protect two distinct ecosystems: a low-lying wetland around Swan Lake and a rare Garry oak meadow on the rocky summit of Christmas Hill. The Nature Sanctuary is vital for protecting threatened species and the Colquitz River watershed.

Visitors regularly come to enjoy a picnic on the Founders' Wharf, birdwatch on the floating boardwalk, collect data for iNaturalist, sit quietly or visit our gift shop!

Hours and Admission

The Nature House has summer and winter hours (see schedule below). The Nature House is closed on Statutory Holidays. The grounds, trails and parking lot are open dawn until dusk every day.

Nature House hours

Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday: 9am - 3pm

Wednesday and Friday: 9am - 1pm

Saturday and Sunday: closed

Closed on Statutory holidays as well as Easter Monday.

The Nature House is wheelchair accessible. There is no admission fee, though visitors are encouraged to use the donations box just inside the front door. Download a map.

Swan Lake Christmas Hill Nature Sanctuary

Basic rules

Let’s make sure everyone -non-humans as well as humans - can enjoy the Nature Sanctuary long into the future!

  • NO DOGS - Bylaw # 7462 No dogs in the Nature Sanctuary. Read where Saanich permits and does not permit dogs in parks.
    • Even the presence of predatory animals make this critical migratory bird stop feel unsafe. Many of the birds on-site travel all the way from Alaska to South America. You can learn more about keeping your cat safe and saving birds lives here and with this helpful brochure. More information about threats to birds can be found on the Birds Canada website and there are more bird friendly resources on our website here.
  • NO FIRES – Saanich limits outdoor burning in Saanich for a few reasons:
    • To reduce fire risk
    • Preserve air quality
    • Protect our environment
  • NO BOATING or any other water recreation in the lake

Read Saanich’s Fire Prevention Bylaw [PDF - 51 KB].

  • NO BBQs - No charcoal or briquettes BBQs are permitted without express interest and an issued permit from the Nature Sanctuary.
  • NO SMOKING - No smoking, vaping or use of cannabis products. Read about the CRD-Clean Air Bylaw
  • NO BIKES – While you are encouraged to cycle to the Nature Sanctuary, Saanich Bylaw # 7753 stipulates no person shall ride a bicycle in the Swan Lake Christmas Hill Nature Sanctuary except in a parking lot or on a paved roadway Read more about this and other Parks Management and Control Bylaw stipulations.
  • NOISE - Keep noise levels down. Music or loudspeaker use is okay as long as those around you are okay with it!
  • PARKING - Park only in approved designated parking areas. Use the overflow lot as a last resort.
  • PICNICS – You are welcome to enjoy a small picnic on the front lawns of the Nature House or in the Teaching Shelter providing, you follow the above-mentioned rules and, the location has not been rented out for a private function (see rentals)

Respect nature

Swan Lake Nature Trails

The Nature Sanctuary offers an extensive nature trail system.  For those who like to meander or need a more accessible hike, the Swan Lake Loop trail is an easy walk and the floating boardwalk puts you right in the centre of this significant wetland area.

Swan Lake Trail Map

Christmas Hill Nature Trails

If you are looking for a little more exertion, the trails of Christmas Hill offer more of a challenge.  The summit of Christmas Hill sits at 109 meters above sea level and rewards you with a spectacular view of Victoria, BC.  In the spring, a vast carpet of wildflowers surrounds you as you venture past the endangered Garry Oak meadow.

Christmas Hill Trail Map


Running along the trails is permitted, except along the floating boardwalk for safety and animal habitat preservation.  Please use the running/jogging trail adjacent to the boardwalk to navigate around the lake. The jogging trail is denoted in yellow in the image below.

Jogging trail at Swan Lake Christmas Hill Nature Sanctuary

Nature Trail Updates

The Nature Trails remain open during inclement conditions, however, we encourage all visitors to exercise care and attention at all times. Parts of the trail may be closed during peak flood periods.  Check our Facebook page for any trail closure updates or call the office at 250-479-0211.

As per Saanich by-laws, bicycling, pets, and smoking (including e-cigarettes) are all prohibited anywhere on Swan Lake and Christmas Hill properties including the trails and parking lot.

A map of the nature trails can be found HERE.

Bird Watching

Interested in birds?

Bring your binoculars and walking shoes and dress for the weather!

Swan Lake Christmas Hill Nature Sanctuary is an excellent place for year-round birdwatching, especially during the spring and fall migration periods.

Download a trail map HERE.

Click here for a list of recently-sighted birds at the Nature Sanctuary on eBird.

Here is a checklist of Swan Lake Christmas Hill Nature Sanctuary Birds of compiled by Chris Saunders.

Alternate Pet Friendly Locations in the Area

Cedar Hill Park

Cadboro Gyro Park

Cordova Bay Park

(PKOLS) Mount Douglas Park

Please read each park's regulations about animal by laws.