Observatory Hill Trail

The Dominion Astrophysical Observatory Trail is in the District of Saanich, one of thirteen areas that form the Capital Regional District of British Columbia. Situated on the top of Little Saanich Mountain which is also known as Observatory Hill, is the DAO: a domed roof white cylindrical two-story building. This well know historical landmark has been in use since nineteen eighteen. There are also several other buildings near the summit that are used for astronomy research and education. The hill is about 226m (~700 feet) above sea level and the trail or roadway both provide a steady climb to the summit. The elevation gain from the parking lot is about one hundred and forty meters with a five kilometer round trip.

The slopes of the hill are nature developed with selective logging. Enjoy garry oak, cedar, fir and arbutus trees that grow between the rocky outcrops. Ocean spray, salal, red current, black berry and snowberry bushes are scattered along the forest floor. There are many mosses, ferns, bryophytes and fungi to observe as well as several rare plants such as narrow leaf onion, white fair poppy and fernleaf parsley. For dog walkers, please keep your dog under control. Many birds ride the thermals around the hill. Keep an eye out for eagles, osprey, hawks, and turkey vultures. Squirrels, deer and raccoons maybe seen along the trail. This is a good place to walk in your back yard.

Geographical Location 48°31’ 3”N 123°25’ 15”W

The Dominion Astrophysical Observatory Trail can be reached from the Trans-Canada Highway. Exit onto Mackenzie Avenue to reach Pat Bay Highway (Hwy 17). Continue along Pat Bay Highway to exit the highway at Royal Oak Drive to the right. Using the overpass turn left and cross over the highway. Continue along Royal Oak Drive to reach with West Saanich Road.  Turn right and drive along West Saanich Road looking for the sign and parking area for the Observatory on the right. There is small parking area before the gate on the road that leads to the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory. This area can be accessed during regular working hours (weekdays from approx. 9am to 5pm). There is parking at the top of the two thousand two hundred meters paved roadway.

Additional information Observation Hill’s macro fungi: https://ibis.geog.ubc.ca/biodiversity/eflora/macrofungi_observatory_hill.html

Additional information about Astrophysical Education and history of this site : https://centreoftheuniverse.org/early-history


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