Beaver Lake ParkThe Saanich Peninsula is a nature lover's paradise. Whether you enjoy swimming, mountain biking, cycling, jogging or hiking, the area boats a tremendous range of outdoor opportunities and is the perfect place to escape from the city. Here are four area parks worth checking out: Gowland Tod Provincial Park Comprising 1,219 hectares of pristine wilderness along the Saanich Inlet, Gowland Tod Provincial Park offers some of the finest hiking in the Victoria area with an extensive trail network spanning more than 25 kilometers. Trail difficulties range from gentle walks over undulating terrain to taxing hikes up steep hillsides and many of the trails offer spectacular views across the Saanich Inlet and surrounding area. When hiking during the summer, be sure to allow some time for a quick dip in the inlet. The waters located off the Mackenzie Bight access point are renowned for their warmth in the summertime – it’s the perfect place to cool down after a long, strenuous hike! Mount Work Regional Park Just inland from Gowland Tod Provincial Park is Mount Work Regional Park, one of the largest regional parks in the area. The park features three freshwater lakes – Durrance, Fork and Pease – for swimming, canoeing and fishing; 11 kilometers of trails; and Mount Work-Hartland, a separate area of multi-use trails that are popular with downhill mountain bikers. Of the three lakes in the park, Durrance Lake is the most accessible and is popular with families and picnickers. The water is clean, cool and very refreshing to swim in, and there is a sandy beach at one end of the lake. Elk/Beaver Lake Located approximately 15 minutes outside of downtown Victoria along the Patricia Bay Highway, Elk/Beaver Lake Regional Park (pictured above) is one of Victoria’s preeminent places for outdoor recreation opportunities. The conjoined lakes are used cooperatively by swimmers, wind surfers, sailors, water-skiers, fishers and rowers, while some of the park’s trails are designated multi-use – for hikers, cyclists and horse riders – and others are exclusively for hiking. John Dean Provincial Park Offering panoramic views of the Saanich Peninsula, the Gulf Islands and the Cascade Mountains, John Dean Provincial Park is located on the top of Mount Newton. The park protects one of the last stands of old-growth Douglas fir and Garry oak on the Saanich Peninsula and features a number of hiking trails. The trails are of varying degrees of difficulty and meander through the forest across the south and east face of Mount Newton. Adventurous hikers can climb right to the top of Mount Newton – one of the best spots on Vancouver Island to watch the sunset!