Sunday, 1 June 2014

Phyllis Park

Dogs permitted - on leash
Accessibility - not wheelchair accessible at all, somewhat steep, rough trails down to the shore.

Phyllis Park is one of those spots you probably wouldn't know about unless you lived in the neighbourhood. It provides some of the best uninterrupted views over the San Juan Islands to Mount Baker that you will find around Victoria, in the midst of a Garry Oak and Arbutus grove.
Keep going!!! There's more trails

Phyllis Park is one of a number of loosely connected small parks at the very south end of Arbutus Road, where the road heads up the hill to some rather expansive homes that were part of a 1980's development of the area.  If you are tromping through the park, you will find some of the park trails at the South end connect up with Mount Baker View Road and Phyllis Road in Ten Mile Point at the lower level, and there are a number of other parks on the other side of Arbutus Rd. near the top of the hill, including Viewpoint Park, Wedgewood Park, Wedgepoint Park and Benson Park,

The main park entrance, off Arbutus Road has prominent signage, with on-street parking.  You go directly up a few stairs to access the lookout deck (with the only bench in the park!).  There is some fencing to discourage the more adventurous from slipping and falling over some of the steeper sections of the rocky outcropping at the top.  And if you stopped at the top you might be fooled into thinking the lookout and moss-covered rocks and scattering of Garry Oaks and Arbutus trees was all this park had to offer.

Take a turn to the right, before you go up the stairs, however, and there is a whole trail network that takes you over the rocks, and into the forest below, and ultimately right to the rocky shoreline - the park covers more than 5 hectares in total! The trails are fairly steep in spots, and minimally tended (there were piles of dry broom in spots, indicating crews come through periodically to remove invasive species), so make sure you wear comfortable shoes, and have at least one hand free for easier going.

As you make your way down the trail, you will see many species of plants typical in the Garry Oak habitat - lots of grasses, Camassia Quamash, some Elegant White Death Camas (this one IS poisonous, don't eat it!!!), yarrow and plantain.  Further down the slope, the trail winds its way into a more forested zone, with Douglas Fir cover, and lots of Rosa Nutkana, trailing blackberries and wild honeysuckle.  The trail goes right down to the shoreline, where you can scramble down to a rocky beach area, or follow the shoreline along the rocky cliffs.  On a late spring day, there was evidence of otters, so be careful depending on the time of year - if they are nesting, they can be quite protective!

Some of the trails loop around, and straight up the cliff if you are feeling adventurous, but I recommend heading up the way you came down, as you need a sharp eye to make out where the trails pick up in spots.

Link: Saanich Parks info for Phyllis Park

All images © 2014 Janice Mansfield