Witty’s Lagoon is a treasured little spot that has been enjoyed by many people over the years. Only about 30 minutes from downtown Victoria, it is certainly worth the drive.
Once you are here at this Vancouver Island attraction, it’s fairly accessable for most ages and fitness levels as it is a 1.1 km hike through a rainforest, a marsh, and the sweeping sandy beach at the end.
How Witty’s Lagoon Got Its Name
The Ka-Kyaakan First Nation tribe was in the area in and around the lagoon fishing, gathering roots, making canoes, and weaving baskets when James Douglas showed up and bought the land in 1850. He divided the land to some of the European settlers and Mr. John Witty was the lucky one to get the land lot that included the lagoon.
The natives continued to live on the land and provided a canoe shuttle service to locals wanting to go across the water to Fort Victoria. Their descendants eventually ended up on the Songhees Reservation in Esquimalt, although remnants of their history there have been since found and have gained the attention of the Royal BC Museum and a couple of BC’s universities. So far there has been 5 sites, 3 shell middens, and 2 fortified sites found, all of them now protected under the Heritage Conservation Act.
The rest of the park is protected as well, having been bought in 1966 by the CRD Parks with the idea to protect the delicate ecosystem that is still flourishing in the park today.
What to Expect from Witty’s Lagoon When You Arrive
Upon entering, you will be greeted by immense Douglas fir trees and Broad Leaf Maples. Depending on when you visit, there may be some wildflowers and other unusual fauna at your feet. Running through the woods is Bilston Creek, which runs itself into a waterfall over some volcanic rocks. it is named Sitting Lady Falls and is especially lively in the Fall-Winter months.
Next you’ll see where fresh water and salt water collide and blend, giving new breeding ground to the tiny creatures that incubate here. The salt marsh is the next layer of the lagoon, and is home to many local and migratory birds like herons, swans, geese, and ducks. But there’s more—there has been about 160 different species of birds spotted here! That’s great news for bird watchers and casual bird observers. One of the more interesting looking birds often seen here is the Belted Kingfisher.
Witty’s Lagoon is Truly Connected to Nature
The tidal zone of the marsh brings shellfish and small fish out, but you can see more when you head to the beach. When the tide is out, there is plenty of room to play and poke around at the oceanic discoveries on the beach, or just gaze at the view of the mountains and breath in the deeply cleansing air.
You can explore the area further along the beach or meander through the meadows looking at Camas Lilies, Buttercups, Wild Roses, and Nodding Onions. Some of the early orchard trees are still lingering around, but by now they would need a giant pruning to bear fruit successfully. There will be no short of special picnic spots to lay down your blanket either.
Witty’s Lagoon started out as a settlement for the North Salish Nation, and since then it is now a cherished tourist spot. Since it is protected, we can enjoy it for many years to come.
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