Why the Malahat SkyWalk is an Essential B.C. Experience

Built with accessibility in mind, this Vancouver Island attraction provides breathtaking views for all.

It was late September, and for a few more days we would still have warm, clear and dry conditions. The rain was forecast to begin in a week. So it was a perfect time for my wife, Colombe, and I to visit one of Vancouver Island’s newest attractions, the Malahat SkyWalk.

View of Mt. Baker in Washington StateMike Lane
A view across southeastern B.C., with Washington State’s Mount Baker in the background.

Views from the Malahat SkyWalk lookout, a towering wood-and-steel structure 250 metres above sea level, are spectacular. You can take in sweeping scenes of British Columbia’s Finlayson Arm and Saanich Peninsula, as well as Mount Baker in Washington. The lookout is located just off Vancouver Island’s Malahat Highway (a stretch of the Trans-Canada Highway), a 35-minute drive north of Victoria and an hour south of Nanaimo.

Malahat Skywalk TowerMike Lane
The beautiful SkyWalk Tower.

From our house in Saanichton, it was a pleasant one-hour drive to the Malahat SkyWalk. We had a quick lunch at home and then headed out. I should note that we could have opted to have a sandwich or snack at the on-site café, but we’ll do that on our next trip.

Elevated Wooden BoardwalkMike Lane
The elevated wooden boardwalk through the trees.

Arriving at the entrance, we paid the admission fees and then began a 20-minute leisurely stroll on an elevated wooden boardwalk that took us gently upward and through the canopy of Douglas fir and arbutus trees. We went at our own pace for the 600-metre treetop walk; as it was not crowded, we could stop and read the informational interpretive signs and take photos.

Malahat Skywalk SlideMike Lane
The enclosed slide spirals down.

As we neared the lookout, we could hear screams—yes, screams—as some visitors opted to slide down from the top of the tower via the 20-metre spiral slide. Later, at the top, Colombe and I decided not to take this quick route to the bottom—safe as it is, it’s not for the faint of heart. It’s also an enclosed slide, so if you suffer from claustrophobia, it’s not for you.

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Malahat Skywalk ViewsMike Lane
A marvellous view over the waters of Finlayson Arm, towards Saanich Peninsula.

When we’d planned this adventure, we’d seen photos of the lookout tower and wondered if we’d be able to walk all the way to the top. Would we be out of breath and exhausted halfway up? But accessibility was kept top of mind in the attraction’s construction: Some sections along the walkway and tower had a reasonable five-to-eight percent incline, so, as we found out, it was an easy walk to the top. We certainly didn’t feel breathless when we reached the summit and looked around at the 360° view. And what a view it is!

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Adventure NetMike Lane
The attraction’s Adventure Net, which beckons thrill-seekers.

Even though we live here, it was still stunning to see the view from this unique perspective. There’s even a sturdy trampoline-style Adventure Net that’s suspended above the centre of the tower—you can walk on it, bounce a little and look down the netting to the tower floor far below. Colombe and I marvelled at the view, walked on the net, and then started our walk back down. Noting the small lineup for the slide, we remarked to each other that we might have tried it 30 years ago, but frail hips and knees told us it would be better to just continue walking. We carried on to the parking lot, where we could hear the faint screams of adventurous souls sliding down from the top.

Then we got into the car and onto the highway, where we took the short Brentwood Bay ferry back to our home.

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Originally Published in Our Canada