Mount Finlayson is hardly lofty by almost anyone's standards, but like Gimli the dwarf in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, it is small but tough. Finlayson is located less than 20 km by road from Victoria, BC, near the southern tip of Vancouver Island in the lovely Goldstream Provincial Park. It looms over the parking area and the popular stream-side trail with a set of imposing cliffs. Though the mountain is barely 400 meters high, those 400 meters are climbed in something less than a mile of steep, relentless, class-3 trail.
Despite the steep trail, Finlayson is a very popular, sporting hike for both BC natives and tourists and a popular (and challenging) trailrunning course. The trail heads up the south face in a no-nonsense manner emerging from woods onto steep rocky traverses. There are more than a few exposed sections of class-three scrambling and many optional opportunities for more technical moves. The upper portions of the mountain feature slick rock (especially so on the descent), but route-finding is made easy by the numerous orange metal plaques bolted directly to the rock.
The climb is arduous but short and the view from the summit is spectacular; the Juan de Fuca straight and lofty Olympic Peaks to the south to the Cascade Volcanoes to the west with Victoria's Inner Harbour in the foreground. Unfortunately, recent development of a golf-course and housing development to the immediately to the south has adversely affected the viewshed.
Mount Finlayson was named after Roderick Finlayson (1818-92), a local fur trader and legislative member of the Vancouver Island Colony. It is unrelated to (and substantially taller than) the equivalently named mountain in the San Juan Islands of Washington State nearby.
Goldstream Provincial Park is located on the Trans-Canada highway 16 km west of Victoria and 96 km south of Naniamo. There are several trailheads in the park and a network of fine trails which connect them all, but the most convenient for scaling Finlayson is the ample parking area at Finlayson Arm Road on the east side of the highway. Park here and head east across the one-lane bridge. After 200 meters an obvious trail heads off steeply to the right and doesn't relent in its steady 20% grade until near the summit.
The mountain can also be accessed from the north via the Finlayson Arm Road and Gowlland Tod Provincial Park, though there is no trailhead parking and the trail is longer.
Red Tape Goldstream Provincial Park is closed dusk to dawn.
A $3 (CDN) daily parking fee is charged and a yearly pass is available for $50 (CDN).
Mount Finlayson is very steep with exposed climbing over loose rock. It is unsuitable for children under age 5.
All pets must be leashed.
When To ClimbMount Finlayson is climbable all year. In the rare occasions when Vancouver Island receives snow, the trail will be slick and hazardous. The upper parts of the trail will also be much more slippery when wet.
CampingGoldstream Provincial Park has 159 campsites at its southern end.
Goldstream Provincial Park
2930 Trans Canada Hwy.
RR# 6 Victoria, BC
Mountain ConditionsCheck this link for current weather and forecast.