I am an avid hiker with a focus on easy to moderate trails in natural settings. I occasionally do harder trails.
Hiking Trails Near the Village of Cobble Hill
The Cobble Hill Mountain Regional Recreation Area is located near the town of Cobble Hill. This village itself is located just off of the Trans Canada Highway, in between Mill Bay and Duncan. Other attractions in the area include Shawnigan Lake and Koksilah River Provincial Park.
Cobble Hill Regional Recreation Area is made up of several hiking trails on what seemed to be a small mountain when I visited this area in mid-August of 2020. The multi-use trails, which are for hikers, horseback riders, and cyclists, offer opportunities for elevation and scenic viewpoints. In the video below, I filmed the trailhead area which is just off of Cobble Hill Road, an area that had plenty of available parking.
The Trailhead Area at Cobble Hill Regional Recreation Area
Lots of Roots, Rocks, and Elevation in the Trail Network
I took a trail called the Squirrel Trail out of the parking lot that was labeled as easy just to get my legs going. However, I'm not so sure that a lot of trail enthusiasts would have found the trail all that easy unless you just go by how short it was.
It was an elevating trail that I think most people would likely have called moderate. The easy trails don't elevate at all, in my opinion, or they elevate so slowly that you barely notice. But the Squirrel Trail was wide and fairly clear of rocks and roots for the most part so, from those points of view, it was an easy walk.
As you can see in the video, the forested trail network was well-shaded on what was a sunny day in August of 2020. After walking the Squirrel Trail, I then took the more difficult and challenging Garter Snake Trail. This latter trail had some freaky elevation points that required the use of all of my limbs, a lot of root hazards were in the trail, and I found a lot of loose rocks as well.
Reaching the Summit Area in Less Than an Hour
It only took about 45-50 minutes out of the parking lot to get to the summit area. The clear area I found had a viewpoint that looked west over farmland with tree-covered mountains on the horizon. I took what was the so-called difficult route to this summit so this clearly isn't a park for a time-consuming adventure as my time to the summit was still less than an hour (and I am slower footed than average).
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In the final analysis, when I left this park I had mixed feelings about it. It was nice that the park had a lot of signposts along the routes. These featured pictures of animals as a way of designating what trail you were on and I never felt lost despite many intersections, turns, dips, and bends.
Furthermore, I definitely found the viewpoint to be worthwhile. There was a picnic table at the summit so if you brought a lunch or snack, there was a nice spot to rest. This area made the park adequate, in my opinion.
A couple of things I didn't like about the trail was the presence of cyclists. From a hiker-centric perspective, cyclists can be a hazard as they come ripping around corners. I can't say I was ever in danger but that's partly because I was alert for them.
I also found the trails narrow and a little unstable at some points. I would not recommend the Garter Snake Trail unless you are prepared for some segments that are really tough to ascend.
If you are in this area of Vancouver Island and looking for a nicer park, then I would instead recommend Goldstream Provincial Park, which can be accessed via the Trans Canada Highway a little bit closer to Victoria. The Sooke Potholes Regional Park is also a nice park for hikers and I especially enjoyed my hike to Peden Lake. The trails at Cobble Hill are more for a hiker that's in the area long-term and wants to experience different trail networks. This park is good for a jaunt to a nice viewpoint but nothing to write home about.
The Summit Area of Cobble Hill Regional Recreation Area
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.
© 2021 Shane Lambert
Liz Westwood from UK on August 30, 2021:
This is a well-illustrated and well-described guide to the trail. I share your concern about cyclists. It seems that cycling has grown in popularity during COVID. It is a great way of keeping fit, but one of the downsides is the risk to those on foot.