VICTORIA -- If you take a short trip to the north Quadra area of Saanich you will find one of the most natural green spaces on the South Island.

You can either stroll through a Garry oak meadow in Vic Derman Park or hike to the top of Christmas Hill for some of the best views of Greater Victoria. The two areas can be found nestled in suburban Saanich, where people say it is peaceful.

“Coming here, it’s a bit of a quiet spot to come and enjoy nature,” said Saanich Parks senior manager Eva Riccius. “It definitely is an oasis and when we have pockets of Garry oak ecosystems we want to keep them.”

Vic Derman Park is a little more than three hectares of green space that sits at the foot of Christmas Hill. Originally called Christmas Hill Park, it was renamed in 2017 to honour long-time Saanich councillor Vic Derman. Riccius says Derman championed the creation of the park.

People who live nearby and use the park regularly appreciate the natural state of the park.

“I think its not touched, its natural,” said a passing cyclist, who said that he rides through the park everyday. “The grasses, the Garry oaks, its all really nice.”

The gentle path through the park is suited more for people who are looking for a walk rather than a hike.

“Its not too steep, but if you are up for a bigger hike you can use it as the gateway to Christmas Hill,” said Riccius.

The hike to the summit of Christmas Hill is made easier by a pathway carved into the side of the hill. The climb up the hill is considered to be a moderate hike.

“There’s rock steps and in some places they are rough and quite steep so its a nice workout,” said Swan Lake and Christmas Hill Nature Sanctuary site manager Jay Rastogi.

With almost two kilometres of trails circling Christmas Hill, those who venture to the summit will travel paths that wind through native Fir and Garry oak trees. Closer to the summit, rock outcroppings open up to 360-degree views of Greater Victoria.

“The payoff is everywhere, every step along the way,” said one man who hikes the hill to keep fit. “When you get to the top, expansive views everywhere, its beautiful.”

So, if you want to experience one of the best examples of a Garry oak ecosystem on southern Vancouver Island, take a stroll through Sannich’s Vic Derman Park. If you are feeling more adventurous, climb to the summit at Christmas Hill Nature Sanctuary for the amazing views.