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. It will also be closed between December 24, 2022 and January 1, 2023. The grounds, trails and parking lot are open dawn until dusk every day.
Summer hours, March 1 - October 31:
Monday and Tuesday: 9am - 3pm
Wednesday: 9am - 1pm
Thursday and Friday: 9am - 3pm
Winter hours, November 1 - February 28:
Monday, Tuesday and Thursday: 9am - 3pm
Wednesday and Friday: 9am - 1pm
Some basic rules
Let’s make sure everyone can enjoy the Nature Sanctuary.
- NO DOGS - Bylaw # 7462 No dogs in the Nature Sanctuary. Read where Saanich permits and does not permit dogs in parks.
- NO CATS
- Even the smell of pet urine can make this critical migratory bird stop feel unsafe. Many of the birds on-site travel all the way from Alaska to South America. Added stress from non-native predators affect their survival. 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 HUNTING
- NO FISHING
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 ALCOHOL
- 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)
- Stick to formal trails.
- Pack it in, pack it out. Please take all garbage, recycling or compostable materials with you.
- Please do not pick or eat plants or flowers.
- Leave trees alone.
- Enjoy wildlife from a distance.
- Read more about these and other Saanich Parks Management and Control Bylaw rules and regulations.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.