Witty’s Lagoon and Sitting Lady Falls

Witty’s Lagoon Regional Park is located in Metchosin, on the southern coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia. The regional park is well-known for its diverse and rich ecosystem, walking trails, and excellent birdwatching. At over 58 hectares, the area is home to a large number of plant and bird species. In addition to nature viewing, one of the notable attractions of Witty’s Lagoon is the stunning Sitting Lady Falls. Depending on the time of year, Sitting Lady can be dramatic or demur!

Stunning Sitting Lady Falls

Summer flow at Sitting Lady Falls
Summer water flow at Sitting Lady Falls.

Sitting Lady Falls is a beautiful waterfall that is located just a short 15 minute walk from the main parking area off of Metchosin Road. Watch for the side trail that leaves the main beach trail before it crosses Bilston Creek. The waterfall is named after a rock formation that apparently resembles a sitting lady. It is a popular spot for tourists, photographers, and nature lovers. The trail to the falls is well-maintained and provides visitors with good views of the surrounding landscape. The falls themselves are a spectacular sight, with water cascading down a rocky cliff into a crystal-clear pool below. From the main viewing platform on the east side of the lagoon the view is better but trees partially obscure the falls. This is especially noticeable during the summer months.

During the summer, water levels are low and Bilston Creek flows peacefully alongside the trail before plunging down the rocks to the lagoon below. In the winter, rainfall causes Bilston Creek to swell and Sitting Lady to rage. At this time of year, make sure to take a side trip to the waterfall. Views from the east side viewing platform are very good. In the winter, a few leafless trees partially obscure the view, but not as much as in the summer.

Sitting Lady Falls in Winter
Sitting Lady Falls in winter

The Tidal Flats and Lagoon

After a short detour to view Sitting Lady Falls, retrace your steps and rejoin the 1.2 km long trail to the beach. This trail follows the west side of the lagoon passing alongside tidal wetlands and Douglas-fir forests. Big-leaf maple and tall Douglas-fir are common in this part of the park. Close to the lagoon, arbutus makes an appearance. Listen for golden-crowned kinglets and dark-eyed juncos in the winter along this trail. In the evening, sometimes you can hear a barred owl calling. The bird list for Witty’s Lagoon includes 215 different species of birds.

The lagoon is fed by several freshwater creeks, making it an ideal nursery and spawning habitat for a wide range of aquatic creatures, including salmon and cutthroat trout. Additionally, the lagoon serves as a feeding ground for a number of bird species, such as the great blue heron, ducks, and shorebirds. Make sure to bring binoculars or a spotting scope.

Whitty's Lagoon marshes in summer.
Whitty’s Lagoon marshes in summer.

One of the most unique features of Witty’s Lagoon is its tidal flats, which are a vital component of the ecosystem. The tidal flats are areas of land that are submerged at high tide and exposed at low tide. These salt marshes are incredibly important for several species of plants and animals, as they provide a habitat for a variety of species, such as clams, crabs, and eelgrass. The tidal flats also serve as a crucial feeding ground for many bird species, making Witty’s Lagoon an important bird watching destination.

Edge of the Whitty's Lagoon in winter.
Edge of the Whitty’s Lagoon in winter.

Conservation Efforts

Despite its beauty and ecological significance, Witty’s Lagoon Regional Park faces a number of challenges. One of the most pressing issues is the threat of human activities like nearby development and over-visitation. Both of these can have a profound impact on the delicate balance of the ecosystem. Invasive plants also are a pressing issue that needs to be dealt with. Dogs off leash can have a significant impact on migrating shorebirds. The beach area is also a location where the red-listed Contorted-pod evening primrose (Camissonia contorta) was located.

To ensure the long-term health and preservation of Witty’s Lagoon Regional Park, conservation efforts are necessary to protect the area. These efforts include the creation of protected wildlife areas, the monitoring of water quality, and the implementation of regulations aimed at limiting the impact of human activities on the ecosystem. The area where Contorted-pod evening primrose was found is now protected behind a cedar fence. Additionally, educational programs offered by the Capital Regional District raise awareness about the importance of preserving this unique and valuable natural area.

Well Worth the Visit

Witty’s Lagoon Regional Park and Sitting Lady Falls are a wonderful destination for all ages. With its diverse ecosystem, stunning landscape, and breathtaking falls, it is a must-visit destination for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts alike. For young explorers, the walk to the beach is an adventure with views of waterfalls, mud, big trees, and bird song. The efforts being made to protect and preserve this special place ensure that future generations will be able to enjoy its beauty for years to come.