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18 January, 2022

Breathe in the Benefits of Nature

Did you know? Over 55 per cent of the world’s population lives in urban areas. Many people are so removed from nature that its experiences and benefits have become a rarity.

Malahat SkyWalk provides the ‘ultimate natural high’ within easy reach. When you visit, you will not only soak up the spectacular views, but you’ll also absorb the sights, scents and sounds of the natural environment all around you.

The minute you arrive at our Welcome Centre and walk through the Interpretive Breezeway to the Gathering Place, you’ll be immediately immersed in an Arbutus and Douglas Fir forest. Standing on the traditional and ancestral territory of the Malahat Nation, where they once welcomed other First Nations travelling up and down Finlayson Arm, you are protected by the branches and leaves of these local giants standing guard overhead.

Stepping onto the TreeWalk – a 600-metre-long wooden, elevated walkway – the ground falls away below the boardwalk as you rise up 20 metres into the canopy of the forest. You breathe in the smell of Douglas fir, Western Red Cedar and Hemlock as the sound of local birds like the Bushtit, Pileated Woodpecker and Varied Thrush provide the soundtrack to your journey.

As you reach the Spiral Tower, you have settled into a sense of calm as you begin to climb the 10-storey, architecturally-stunning structure – the first of its kind in B.C. The circular ramp gently rises as a light breeze pushes you higher. Bald Eagles, Turkey Vultures, Osprey and Red-tailed Hawks soar below you.

At the top, 360-degree views of two countries surround you – islands, inlets, fjords, forests and mountains for as far as your eye can see. Standing on the edge of the Sightseeing Lookout, you stand on the edge of nature. This is what it means to experience the British Columbia Effect – science has proven that time in nature can make us happier, more creative, and less stressed.

The fresh Pacific Ocean air meets the deep blue waters below – home to Wolf Eel, Giant Pacific Octopus, Cloud Sponges and Bluntnose Sixgill Shark. If you are lucky you may even spot an Orca whale travelling up Finlayson Arm and the Saanich Inlet.

The Spiral Tower is buzzing with outdoor lovers of all ages, but up here – 250 metres above sea level – you still feel that sense of calm. You descend, retracing your route to ground level, and with your feet back on the ground, you reconnect to the earth on The Return Trail.

Beneath the TreeWalk you appreciate the distance and height of your journey. Douglas Squirrel scramble in the treetops while Columbian Black-tailed Deer and Elk quietly play hide-and-seek below in the forest. Western Toad and Rough-skinned Newt sunbathe in the pond. A Black Bear has even been seen arriving early in the morning to drink.

The climate in this region has created a distinct ecosystem called the Coastal Douglas-fir Zone; home to a number of species found only in Canada. Reflecting on your experience at Malahat SkyWalk, you understand why. As you learned about the trees, birds, animals and marine life of this unique region, you’ve found a deeper connection to nature, the beauty of Vancouver Island… and yourself.

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