After almost eight months, I finally mapped the last trail I wanted to feature in my “7 Trails to Run Before You Die – Vancouver Island Edition” series. I was thinking about featuring Elk/Beaver Lake, but it didn’t quite meet my twisty-windy-fun-trail-with-nice-views criteria. It’s a great place for long, easy runs, but I find I get bored when I run on flat trails that don’t twist and turn through the trees. The trails around Matheson Lake, however, are anything but flat and boring. The trail loop isn’t very long (about 4 km), but you can tack on another 2.5 km by starting at the parking lot right off Rocky Point Road and doing a nice warm-up run down the Goose.
7) Matheson Lake (Galloping Goose Trail -> Hiking loop around Matheson Lake -> Back to Galloping Goose Trail)
Trail name(s): Galloping Goose Trail, Lake Trail, Matheson Lake Trail
Terrain: Loose gravel, slick rocks, forested single-track trail over roots and moss, and a few wood bridges. Trail shoes are recommended.
Parking: There are two parking lots you can use to access the trail head. The first is just off Rocky Point Road where the Galloping Goose crosses the road, just before the turn off to Matheson Lake Park Road. It’s about a 1 km run along the Goose Trail to the main beach from this parking lot. The second is right near the main beach off Matheson Lake Park Road. Parking is free.
Trail access: If you’re running from the Galloping Goose parking lot, you’ll see a trail off to the left about a kilometre in with a sign directing you to the main beach and parking lot. Once you reach the parking lot, you’ll see the trail head near the info booth by the edge of the parking lot.
Facilities: Outhouses across the trail from the main beach (about 200 metres from the main beach parking lot).
Distance: Between 4 km and 6.5 km (depending on where you start).
Time: Anywhere from 35 minutes to an hour.
Description: The trail from the Galloping Goose parking lot is typical Goose terrain (wide and packed gravel). As soon as you reach the parking lot, the trail narrows and hugs the edge of Matheson lake. Expect twisty, undulating forest terrain; lots of roots, rocks, muckiness (in the winter); and a few short but steep climbs. There are a few nice view points around the lake as the trail snakes in and out of the forest.
About half-way around you’ll exit the trail and end up on the Goose for a few hundred metres before heading back down on the Lake Trail. The last 2 kilometres of the trail is where most of the muckiness and steep climbs are, and where you’ll find some of the most Instagram-worthy trail scenery (moss-covered rocks, trickling streams and vibrant green ferns).
Trail Rating (out of four stars)
Overall: A great place for a shorter trail run with some friends or your dogs. Worth the 35-minute drive from Victoria, especially in the summer when you can go for a post-run float on the lake.
The 7 Trails to Run Before You Die – Vancouver Island Edition Series:
- Gowlland Todd
- Trestle Run in Goldstream Park
- Thetis Lake to Stewart Mountain
- Mount Quimper in Sooke
- Coast Trail in East Sooke Park
- Mount Doug Park in Saanich
- Matheson Lake