by Sheila Molloy –
Mt. Newton Cross Road Heritage Walk From East Saanich Road to West Saanich Road, this is a scenic walk past pioneer sites and magnificent views of the valley fields. A historical brochure is downloadable from the Central Saanich website to take with you as you stroll: https://www.centralsaanich.ca/municipal-hall/resource-library/heritage-walk-brochure.
You can start from the parking lot of the Prairie Inn Pub (7806 East Saanich Road) as the official first heritage site or you can use the alternate start suggested below and come back to this spot for lunch.
Cross the street to use the sidewalk on Mt. Newton Cross Road. Walk past the shops, the Volunteer Fire Museum and through the residential neighbourhood. Once you start downhill from Saanichton Village, the sidewalk changes to a doublewide paved shoulder until Malcolm Road.
An alternative start for this walk is just after Malcolm Road at the Individual Learning Centre (1649 Mt. Newton Cross Road). There are parking spaces that run along the road right next to the path.
From here the trail is straight on with views on both sides of the valley, through cool canopies of trees, past open fields, working farms, vineyards and private homes. Only a few residential driveways intersect the well-maintained gravel and dirt path until St. Stephens Road. Most sections are flat, with gentle rises and rolls. If you use the heritage map, you will learn about the many sites and history of the area. Reading as you meander makes this walk even more fulfilling.
Taking the short walk down St. Stephens Road to the church is very worthwhile. There are signs to guide you and a dog park right next to the parking lot serves as a great place to picnic.
St. Stephen’s Church is the oldest church in British Columbia, used continuously since it was built in 1862. The beautiful grounds have benches for contemplation and to enjoy sweeping views of the valley.
Back up to the main path and over a wooden footbridge brings you to the final three heritage sites, ending with Mount Newton Cottage.
Things to Note
• This walk is approachable for all fitness levels. Stroller friendly.
• Trail length is about 4km one way but can be shortened using the alternate start suggested or turning around sooner.
• Great parking options at either of the two suggested starts.
• Starting and ending in town means good options for washrooms, snacks, and water.
Photos by Sheila Molloy.