Here is a small sampling of some less well-known lakes in and around the West Shore that you and your friends and family can explore this summer.
1) Pease Lake
Pease Lake is a quiet, little known beauty found in the north-west corner of Mount Work Park. It’s an ideal destination for swimmers and particularly well-suited for cyclists, as the nearest parking lot is further up Durrance Road at the entrance to the park. Trees and a handful of private homes surround most of the shoreline, so it’s best to count on bringing a float-tube, if you are fishing, or an air mattress, if you are swimming.
2) Eagles Lake
Deep in the Highlands, at the end of a series of narrow and winding roads, is Eagles Lake, one Victoria’s best places to swim. Eagles Lake is a swimmer’s paradise. The main beach and almost half of the shoreline falls within a municipal park, with a handful of residences a good distance away from the shore on the eastern side. One of the lake’s unique features is a composting toilet that was built by volunteers of the Highlands Parks and Recreation Association and Eco-Sense. This luxury outhouse features walls made of clay, sand, and straw, a living roof, and a time capsule within its walls containing a report produced by a sustainability task force. This structure was built to last for 500 years!
3) Blinkhorn Lake
Metchosin’s hidden beauty, Blinkhorn Lake, is an ideal place to take the dogs for a walk and avoid the crowds at larger lakes nearby. A small beach can be found on the south shore close to the Kangaroo Road parking lot. It doesn’t get much sun in the afternoon, so bring something to float on, if you intend to swim or soak up sunshine. Chances are good that you’ll have the lake to yourself, if you do venture into the water. An interesting feature of this lake is a fallen log at the northeast corner. While walking along the main trail, you’ll notice a puzzling clearing to the left that seems to serve no purpose, as there is no direct access to the lake. Walk along the large log through the bushes, however, and you’ll find a cozy place from which you can enjoy the lake – an ideal place for a romantic picnic.
4) Matheson Lake
At over 160 hectares, Matheson Lake Regional Park offers just about anything a person could want from a lake: a sandy beach, plenty of hiking trails, and direct access from the Galloping Goose Regional Trail. If you prefer being in the water, swim from the main beach out to Ian Gillespie Island. This small island offers plenty of space to lie down and soak up the sun after a good swim. The full lakeside trail takes about 2 to 3 hours. It connects with the Galloping Goose Regional Trail and crosses Wildwood Creek before taking an incline up Mount Matheson on the south side.
Matheson Lake is a local favourite for fishing, either from the shore, a boat, or a float tube. The lake is stocked with cutthroat and rainbow trout. If you don’t mind carrying your boat about 300 meters from the car park, it’s possible to launch small boats from the main beach area. Boats with electric motors are permitted.
5) Kemp Lake
Located just beyond the municipality of Sooke, this beautiful body of water is particularly well suited for non-motorized boats such as canoes, kayaks, and other rowboats. The boat launch and main access point is located off Chubb Road. Take a picnic lunch and watch for wildlife, dragonflies, and water lilies on the surface of the lake. Aside from being a beautiful place to visit, the lake serves as a water source for the community living nearby.
6) Crabapple, Sheilds, Grass, and Peden Lakes
These lakes are found in the Sea to Sea Regional Park Reserve, an area of a mid-growth wilderness, sizeable enough to sustain entire ecosystems. The park is within the T’Sou-ke Nation’s traditional territory and has sustained thousands of years of First Nations culture. Access to any of these lakes requires a 2-3-hour uphill hike or bike through a network of challenging, unmarked trails with an elevation gain of over 300 meters. Peden Lake is located at the higher elevation to offer a refreshing swim to reward your efforts in getting there. There is no access for motorized vehicles or ATVs in the park, so count on a day-long hike or bike ride, if you plan to visit them. Know your route, start early in the day, and bring a lunch, plenty of water, a GPS, and a friend.
7) Spectacle Lake
A 65-hectare Provincial Park, Spectacle Lake is a great spot for swimming, canoeing, fishing or spending the
day picnicking. It is also the only lake on southern Vancouver Island where you can fish for eastern brook trout. Its unique location, ease of access and developed facilities make it a favourite for a stop between Victoria and Nanaimo
Editor’s Note: We are very grateful to Adam Ungstad for allowing us to extract some local lore and lake locations from his guidebook to inspire you to visit places you might not otherwise go. Adam is planning to revise his guidebook next year and we look forward to updating you, our readers, at that time.