In the north end of Gowlland Tod Provincial Park next to Butchart Gardens, lies the beautiful Tod Inlet. This area has a rich history, known by the the W̱SÁNEĆ peoples as “the place of the blue grouse”. The abundant natural resources of the area were harvested and celebrated by these peoples before it was used to mine for limestone and make cement in the 1900’s. Tod Inlet became protected in 1994 and efforts are being made to restore the environmental degradation that was caused. Today, you will see hints of this past as nature takes over once more, as we see biodiversity returning to this enchanting place.
I have hiked down through the mossy forest above Tod Creek to the beautiful inlet in several different seasons. In the winter the trees surrounding the inlet were shrouded in mist, bringing an air of mystery to the secluded inlet. In the summer the trail was dappled in sunlight and the illuminated inlet was emerald green.
I decided to come back to this magical place again before writing this post. On a sunny February day, I brought Molly the dog down the trail towards the inlet. Sunlight filtered down through the trees as we noticed mossy Cedar and Douglas Fir trees on either side of us. We came across some ruins of the old cement company that I had read about, and I imagined what the area may have looked like back in the early 1900’s when it was in full swing. I was glad that the area is returning to its natural state, moss and age taking over the remains.
There were signs along the way requesting that we stay on the trails to help efforts for environmental restoration. We went over a bridge and then came to a fork in the road marked by an old fire hydrant. We could choose to go along the smoother trail to the right or weave along the more challenging path that follows Tod Creek to the left. We chose the right path and went down a fairly relaxed trail, stopping to notice woodpecker activity on a Cedar tree. We took one more left and made it to the inlet, where we spotted the lumpiest Maple Tree I had ever seen.
There was a beach, pit toilets, and a little dock on the inlet, and we walked down to the sand where Molly had the best time splashing in the water and trying her best to get me wet. We then sat on a log and appreciated the view, watching bufflehead ducks bobbing in and out of the water.
Happy with our time by the water, we took the path on the right of the inlet that trailed the creek back. The trail was smaller and we had to step over roots, but we were up for the challenge. Seeing wooden steps leading downwards, we decided to see where they led and made our way down to the mouth of the estuary where Tod Creek flows into the Inlet. It was interesting to see this confluence and get a different perspective of the inlet. With muddy feet and a satisfied taste of adventure we walked back up the steps and continued along the trail back to our car. I knew that signs of spring would be popping up soon in the form of White Fawn Lilies and Trilliums, and was excited to come back next time to look for them.
Check out more photos from the adventure below!