About a sixth of the Park is a pristine fresh-water lake. The remainder of the Park is hilly and heavily forested with 60+ year old trees interspersed with a few ancient forest giants. On the tops and upper slopes of the hills are a few rocky balds. At the west end of the Matheson Lake, and mostly outside the Park, lies Mount Matheson. Matheson Lake Regional Park has a parking lot, open sunrise to sunset, and a sandy, pocket beach that is about a 5 minute walk from the parking lot. The Park can be crowded on hot summer days, but during most of the year the park has only a few visitors - mostly fishers, hikers, and dog-walkers.
A wide, maintained trail leads from the parking lot to the beach. A 2.5 kilometer section of the Galloping Goose Trail that starts in Victoria and goes just past Sooke lies within the Park boundaries - the trail is mostly level with a fine gravel bed. A 3.4 kilometer, undulating, loop trail surrounds Matheson Lake. It has boardwalks through the muddier sections. In wet seasons the hilly parts of the loop trail can be slippery. Numerous other small trails crisscross the Park and some of these lead up to Cougar Bluff at the very north end of the Park.
The Galloping Goose Trail from Matheson Lake Regional Park to the neighboring Roche Cove Regional Park was part of the original trail network that took natives and pioneers from Sooke to Victoria. In the early decades of the twentieth century the trail became the railbed of the gas-powered Galloping Goose engines that hauled passengers and freight from Victoria to points north and west. The section of the trail and surrounding forest that became Matheson Lake Park was created from land donated to the Provincial Government by the Matheson family in the 1950s. The rails were removed in a Rails to Trails conversion in the 1980s.In the 1990s the Park became part of the Regional CRD Parks network.
Text by Kem Luther, background image by Benjamin Madison and photo by Doug Gilbert
Matheson Lake Photos