A lovely day trip from Victoria, British Columbia, is to Goldstream Provincial Park. Named for a brief 19th century gold rush that left a few old mining shafts scattered throughout the park, Goldstream is now known for its towering western red cedar and Douglas fir trees, and the salmon runs that fill its waters with flopping fish every fall.
The salmon run is a great reason to visit Goldstream. It’s amazing that one can drive 20 minutes from downtown Victoria and witness such a fascinating natural display. The large, silvery bodies of the salmon flop and wiggle aggressively through the clear waters, bald eagles watching overhead from the trees, river otters sliding along the shore. As a nearby rather morbid interpretive sign explains, the salmon are here in the last leg of their “cradle to the grave” journey, depositing eggs that become the next generation of splashing fish.
If you walk towards the nature house and take a diversion through a tunnel under the highway (which may or may not be running with water, depending on the time of year), you’ll come to a riverbed. In the fall, it’s blanketed with huge orange leaves, and you can walk carefully over the leaf-slick rocks to reach a slender waterfall, plummeting into a damp green valley.
Follow the trail that climbs above the falls and you’re on your way to the Goldstream Trestle. It’s a rather steep hike, one that will have your legs burning, but it’s not too long before the trestle looms into view.
Apparently this particular rail line is currently inactive, so you can wander out onto the trestle and enjoy the view without fear of a train rushing by. The trestle is still dizzingly high, soaring above the valley. If you walk down the middle of the tracks, it’s not as heart pounding, but if you watch your feet as you move, the trees below will seem very far away.
If you can make it across the trestle, there’s another bridge to cross and a tunnel further down the tracks. I personally could not be convinced to get farther than the middle of the bridge– with the salmon run and the mild fall weather, it was a busy Saturday in the park and so many people on the bridge made me nervous.
No one fell off the bridge that day, luckily. And even if I only made it half way across, taking a deep breath and walking across the trestle was well worth the amazing views. Right now is a perfect time to visit Goldstream– not only are the salmon putting on a show, the weather is lovely and moody, with fog and falling leaves.
Hike to the Goldstream Trestle:
- Goldstream is about a 20 minute drive from downtown Victoria, depending on traffic.
- You can find the trestle by walking towards the Nature House from the main parking lot. Take the tunnel under the highway (it’s not really marked as an official trail).
- Once you’re on the other side, take the trail on the right side– it will climb steeply up above Niagara Falls and more or less leads straight to the trestle.
- If dizzying views aren’t your thing, the salmon run is late October through November, and can be seen a very short stroll from the parking lots. Every other year is a SUPER run, with even more amazing salmon action.
- There’s a very kid friendly campground at Goldstream, with reservable group sites and day use fire pits. Pack marshmallows!