Goldstream Park Day Use Area: Ancient Cedars

The fattest of the ancient cedars in Goldstream Park Day Use Area on trail to Nature House
Goldstream Park is a magical place, a tiny remnant of the once mighty Coastal Douglas-fir forest that covered a narrow strip along southeastern Vancouver Island. This is the closest old growth forest to a major urban center on Vancouver Island, and is only 30 minutes from downtown Victoria.

For thousands of years this was a quiet, tranquil place where the people of the Saanich tribe fished and hunted and celebrated. All that changed with the arrival of Europeans.

Park map with day use on upper right, and campground area on lower left

In 1863 the Goldstream River was the site of a gold rush, although it seems it never did live up to its name, and miners soon moved off to other local rivers such as the Leech River north of Sooke. There were also mines on the surrounding mountains for deposits such as copper.

Snowdrops at side of trail
In 1912 Malahat Drive (Highway 1/Trans-Canada) was constructed, replacing a steeper, more dangerous inland route. The Goldstream area was given park status in 1958.

The Malahat passes right through the park and its moss-covered trees towering far above the pavement. Both sides of the park offer excellent opportunities to see big trees and experience old growth forest.

Entering the Goldstream day use area on the east side of the Malahat, you will pass between two wide buttressed Western red-cedars that welcome visitors to the park. These trees are are about 800 years old, and could live for several hundred years more.

This area is a haven for many old growth big trees. Many are Western red-cedars due to the wet conditions on the floodplain of the river. There are also some impressive Bigleaf maple and Black cottonwoods to be found here.

The Goldstream River is known for its salmon and eagles every fall
The wide, gravel-covered accessible trails along the lower Goldstream River give the visitor a look at the cross sections of mighty giants that have fallen, as well as centuries old trees still growing vigorously. In March the skunk cabbage and snowdrops herald the coming of spring.

Upper Goldstream Trail is also a popular hike well worth checking out. This beautiful moderate hike winds along the river and through a small ancient forest of giant Douglas-fir and cedar. Giant fallen trees across the trail have been cut through to allow hikers to pass through its multi-ringed boles.

Check out the visitor center while you are enjoying the day use area. It can be found at the mouth of the Goldstream River. The centre (nature house) focuses on environmental education, which has not been publicly funded in parks since the BC government withdrew funding in 2003.

Every year the staff introduce thousands of people to the wonder and importance of this mossy, green, temperate rain forest. Let them, and this park, fill you with the magic that resides here.

View Goldstream Park in a larger map

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