Gowlland Tod 10 km point-to-point trail run: Squally Reach, Joceyln Hill and Caleb Pike

Beautiful views on the trail

Beautiful views on the trail

Confession: I haven’t spent a whole lot of time running on trails lately, partly due to my crazy work and study schedule, and partly because I’ve actually been enjoying my urban runs and strength training workouts at home. Granted those urban runs are alongside the ocean in beautiful downtown Victoria, so they aren’t quite as mundane as your average pavement run, but I digress.

After Squamish, I didn’t hit the trails again for a long while. I wasn’t really sure if I’d even want to do an ultra again… but lately I’ve been really missing those long days out on the trails: the quiet serenity of the forest; the quad-busting, chest-burning climbs; the semi-controlled falls on technical downhills…

Last week, Debbie, Dave and I ran the Goldstream Trestle run, and despite being a bit out of shape (I just came back from a week-long vacay in Los Cabos where all I did was eat guacamole and tortilla chips, drink vodka mojitos and lie in the sun next to the pool reading books), I was able to keep up and my legs and lungs actually felt pretty good. So this weekend, we decided to run in Gowlland Tod Provincial Park from the Mt. Work trailhead to Caleb Pike. We took two cars so we could do a point-to-point route to take in all the best vistas on the trail. Since I brought my phone for photos and my Garmin actually located satellites this time, here’s another beautiful Vancouver Island trail route for you to explore!

Gowlland Tod: Mt. Work to Caleb Pike

Click here to see my Garmin route map

Click here to see my Garmin route map

Trail name(s): Timberman -> Jocelyn Hill -> Ridge Trail -> Holmes Peak -> Caleb Pike
Terrain: Rugged trail. Roots, rocks, moss, gravel, and single-track dirt trails. Can be muddy and wet in the winter. Trail shoes are recommended.
Parking: Free, just off Rossdurance Rd. in the Mt. Work parking lot and off Caleb Pike Rd. at the Caleb Pike trailhead. The Mt. Work parking lot is small and can be busy on the weekend, so it’s best to get there before 11am on a nice day.
Trail access: Across the road from the parking lot at Mt. Work, turn left and walk down the road for about 100 metres. You will see a large sign that says  Timberman Trail access.
Facilities: Outhouses at the McKenzie Bight trailhead just across the road from the parking lot.
Distance: About 10.75 km.
Time: Anywhere from 1:30 to 2:30. It us about 2 hours, with stops for Instagram photo ops, haha!
Description: The run in is fairly flat with slight undulations on a wide gravel trail. After you pass over the bridge, the terrain gets a bit more rocky and steep. Some spots are runable and some you may want to hike.

Heading up to Jocelyn Hill

Heading up to Jocelyn Hill

From here, it takes about 30-45 minutes to reach Squally Reach. You will see a sign on your right directing you to the viewpoint. Be sure to stop here to check out the view! From here, it’s another 30-45 minutes to Jocelyn Hill with much of the same terrain and beautiful single-track trails through the forest.

Squally Reach

Squally Reach

Keep right at the signposts to get to the lookout at Jocelyn Hill. You will definitely want to stop there for some photos — the view is stunning on a clear day!

Jocelyn Hill vista

Dave, Debbie, Ashley and me in our best awkward yoga poses at Jocelyn Hill. Yes, that’s Dave’s yoga pose.

After Jocelyn Hill, the trail winds downhill for a kilometre until you reach a junction where you can go up on the Ridge Trail to Holmes Peak or bypass it for flatter terrain. I suggest going on the Ridge Trail, as it’s a fairly short climb and the views are worth it!

There are lots of sign posts along the way so you won't get lost

There are lots of sign posts along the way so you won’t get lost

After Holmes Peak, you’ll pass underneath some powerlines and head downhill on an easy trail down to the Caleb Pike parking lot.

Vista at Jocelyn Hill

View of the Finlayson Arm at Jocelyn Hill

"The beach is that way..."

“The beach is that way…”

Heading down from Jocelyn Hill

Heading down from Jocelyn Hill

Trail Rating (out of four stars)
Terrain: ★★★★
Elevation: ★★★★
Accessibility: ★★★★
Distance: ★★★★
Vistas: ★★★★
Scenery: ★★★★

Overall: One of my most favourite trails! Five stars.