Local Getaway: Thetis Lake
Growing up in Alaska, I never swam in lakes. The concept of an idyllic summer spent paddling a canoe past reedy shores or dipping a toe into sandy shallows just didn’t exist for me. The only real lake in my town was Beluga Lake, and that was a floating landing strip for seaplanes. Besides, it was usually too cold to think of swimming. So you can imagine my delight when I first saw a picture of my friends enjoying a summer dip in Thetis Lake, a hidden forested lake just outside of Victoria. It seemed the perfect place to spend a relaxing day before the semester’s usual stresses kicked in. As soon as I got back to B.C. I vowed to find my way to the lake for a little afternoon vacation.
My friend Marley and I began our mission on a hot Tuesday before classes started. At 25 degrees, it was simply too beautiful to wallow inside. We pulled up Google Maps and charted our course to the lake via BC Transit. Thetis Lake is just west of Victoria; from my apartment on McKenzie Avenue, it was a quick hop down to Uptown Mall on the 26, then a short walk to transfer to the 50, which arrives at Douglas on Saanich every 15 minutes.
Technically, Thetis Lake and its respective regional park lie in View Royal, a Greater Victoria town sandwiched between Langford, Esquimalt, and Saanich. Home to Thetis Lake Park as well as Lakes McKenzie, Prior, and Pike, View Royal hosts some of the most accessible nature areas for UVic students.
We hopped off the 50 at Dukrill Road and stopped at the Shell station on our right for iced tea–at that point it was 2:30 in the afternoon, and I was more than ready for full submersion. From the Shell station, we followed Six Mile Road for 15 minutes. The road to the lake was lined with blackberry bushes practically bursting with ripe dark berries, which made for the perfect hiking treat.
We kept straight on Six Mile Road until we saw the Thetis Lake Park sign right ahead. Thetis Lake Park actually contains two lakes, the upper and the lower, which are connected by a short culvert. A network of hiking trails wind around the lakes and through the forest–we chose to continue toward the lower lake on the Beach Trail to the left of the parking lot.
Over the crest of a short hill lay our beautiful destination. With a wide sandy beach, and full bathroom/change room facilities, I could see why Thetis Lake is a popular destination for sun-seekers and families alike. Seriously, the place even had a foot shower and water fountains. I was sold.
After a short rest on the shore, we waded into the clear cold water. Little finfish darted around our ankles in schools, and a few paddle-boarders dozed on their boards in the center of the lake. The afternoon sun burned overhead, but we felt cool, comfortable, and utterly relaxed.
After a few hours, the sun began to dip and we couldn’t put off our evening obligations any longer. We rolled up our towels, shook the sand off our feet, and traipsed down the trail again. I wish I could have swam and sun-bathed all day, but I know I’ll be back at this perfect campus getaway the very next chance I get!