Notch Hill

August 3rd, 2011 | by | 3 Comments
Published in Central Vancouver Island, Destinations, Garry Oak Meadows, Hiking, Landscapes
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Jocie and I had a rare day without the kids and took full advantage of being able to explore an area that we haven’t visited before. After dropping the kids off at day care we packed a couple of water bottles, some lunch and headed south towards Nanoose Bay. The weather was definitely iffy and we thought that perhaps we had made the wrong decision. As we drove through squalls on the Island Highway we hoped that our reluctantly packed rain gear wasn’t going to be needed once we arrived at our destination.

Notch Hill Meadows

Open meadows at the top of Notch Hill are great for both Garry Oak (Quercus garryana) and Arbutus (Arbutus menziesii).

Nanoose has been fairly heavily developed and much is covered by a massive golf course and residential development called Fairwinds. To be fair, Fairwinds has made an effort to protect green space on its outskirts and allows public access into many interesting natural areas. Notch Hill is one such place.

When we arrived at the parking area the sporadic rain had eased off and we were looking forward to a hike up into the Garry Oak and Arbutus meadows of Notch Hill. Botanically it promised to be an interesting area to explore and the dry Gulf Island-like ecosystem  has the potential to produce many unusual plants.

Garry Oak Meadows on Notch Hill

The trail winds through small grassy meadows with distinctive Garry Oak (Quercus garryana) and Arbutus (Arbutus menziesii).

After a few wrong turns (the trail description in The Essential Vancouver Island Outdoor Recreation Guide is fairly brief) we got on the right track and were up to the view point quite quickly. For those who want to try this hike themselves, make sure to take the well traveled road, which, in this case, is actually a gravel road.

Follow the road up past a small water control shed to a set of large water reservoirs. From here keep to the main trail that heads up to the right (the left trail will also take you to the top) staying on the larger trail that looks more well used. Allow about 30 minutes to get to the main viewpoint and open meadows at the top of Notch Hill.

Note that there is a deceptively enticing trail on the right hand side of the road that leads off into the woods near the parking lot – this is the tail end of a longer loop and provides a bit of a viewpoint onto Enos Lake. Probably better to circle back on this trail rather than using it to ascend to the summit of the Notch.

Yerba Buena (Satureja douglasii)

Yerba Buena (Satureja douglasii) was in bloom along the shady stretches of the trail - make sure to take the time to smell this aromatic plant!

At this point of the summer things were pretty dry and there wasn’t much in the way of wildflowers in bloom. We did find some Yerba Buena (Satureja douglasii) along the shady parts of the trail and a few Harvest Brodiaea (Brodieaea coronaria) and Nodding Onion (Allium cernuum) in flower. I would imagine that the Garry Oak meadows at the top would be much better in the early part of the spring. Thatching ants were very active and we found several large mounds.

Notch Hill Viewpoint

Notch Hill provides excellent views over Nanoose Bay.

Needless to say, we enjoyed a quiet lunch underneath Garry Oak (Quercus garryana) and Arbutus (Arbutus menziesii) admiring the view and the expanse of grassy meadow at the top of the hill. By this time the sun had emerged and the dragonflies were actively hunting along the tree line. A perfect way to spend the morning!

Getting There:

From the Petro Canada gas station turn off the Island Highway (Highway 19) onto Northwest Bay Road. Turn right onto Powder Point Road and continue until you reach a four way stop. Continue straight as Powder Point Road then becomes Fairwinds Road. Look for the trail head on the right hand side of the road.


  1. Island Nature  :: Exploring Enos Lake says:

    August 5th, 2011 at 3:51 pm (#)

    […]After a hot couple of hours on Notch Hill we drove a short distance back along Fairwinds Drive to the trail head for Enos Lake.[…]

  2. Guy L. Monty says:

    August 22nd, 2011 at 3:24 pm (#)

    Great photos Dave!
    One of my favorite places. I worry a lot about the few natural areas left on the Nanoose penninsula.

  3. Ivan says:

    September 25th, 2014 at 5:50 pm (#)

    It’s so cool that your rain shadow allows this ecosystem to exist on your island. Garry Oaks (we call ’em Oregon White Oaks round here) and Madrones (i.e. Arbutus) are common in the Willamette Valley of Oregon.

Record a Comment


Related Posts

Follow Island Nature

Subscribe to Island Nature via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 153 other subscribers

Island Nature on Tumblr

  • photo from Tumblr

    Payzant Falls on the Juan De Fuca trail close to Port Renfrew, Vancouver Island, British Columbia. A bit of a short slog through some muddy trail to get to this location (about 3km from the trailhead) but well worth it. Best on an overcast day, with too much sun there’s too much contrast.

    Fuji X-T1, VSCO Kodak Portra 160 film emulation.


  • photo from Tumblr

    Light Show at Kye Bay

    Kids and I took a break from northern light hunting to do a little light painting dance down on the wet sand flats at Kye Bay on New Year’s Eve. Looks like a satellite did a walk through as well. Nice way to end the year and finish up this 365 Day Project - it’s been challenging at times but overall well worth doing.

    Fuji X-T1, Fuji Classic Chrome camera profile, 125 second exposure


  • photo from Tumblr

    Oyster Bay at Night

    Kids and I drove north to Oyster Bay with the hopes of maybe seeing the northern lights which were forecasted. We were clouded in but I decided to take a photograph anyway - this is looking northeastish, the underside of the clouds are lit by the lights of Campbell River.

    Fuji X-T1, 30 second exposure


Photos of the Day from Island Nature’s Flickr Group


Island Nature is a member of the Canadian Amazon Associates program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to books on A small percentage of each sale helps support this web site and you pay no additional fees for the book!


Creative Commons License

Images and writing by Dave Ingram are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 Canada License.

Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at Island Nature copyright.