Brentwood Bay to Tod Inlet Paddle Route

Brentwood Bay to Tod Inlet Paddle Route

Paddling to Tod Inlet in Gowlland Tod Provincial Park

Tucked in behind the famous Butchart Gardens is a beautiful tree lined inlet accessible only by boat or by a walking trail just off Wallace Dr near Benvenuto Ave. This is an ideal paddle for beginners as the waters of Tod Inlet and the launch at Brentwood Bay are very sheltered and the total route there and back is only about 5 kms.  (See map below)

Tod Inlet is a great place to paddle for people at all skill levels

Tod Inlet is a historically significant area as it was a traditional place used by the Saanich First Nation. It was called S?IDCEL which means, “Place of the Blue Grouse”.  The symbolism of the Blue Grouse meant that the land was plentiful. The area was  an important resource for edible and medicinal plants and building materials. Culturally modified trees (Western Red Cedar) can be seen along edges of the trail.  Tod Inlet was the site of BC’s first cement factory, the remnants of it and its supporting business and residents can still can still be seen along the shores of the inlet as well as along the Tod Inlet Trail leading to Wallace Dr. It was the limestone, discovered here in the late 1800’s, that precipitated the industrial here and later, the start of the Butchart Gardens in the remnants of the exhausted limestone quarry.

Exploring the hiking trails at Tod Inlet

Tod Inlet Trail

Ruins along the Tod Inlet Trail

Access to Tod inlet is from Brentwood Bay. There is a small park at the end of Verdier Ave just up from the BC Ferries terminal. There is a driveway where you can stop and unload boats and equipment. From here and there is a paved walkway down to a gravel beach where you can launch your boats or SUPs. There is also a public washroom located at the loading zone.  You will have to move your vehicle and find a place on the street to park your vehicle. Parking can be a bit of a problem as there are limited spaces at the park and along the street.

Public Beach Access Brentwood Bay

Public Beach Access & Public Washroom at Brentwood Bay

Beach Access & Ramp

Beach Access & Ramp at Brentwood Bay – Brentwood Spa & Lodge in Background

Once on the water, paddle out past the docks. Directly in front of you, across the bay, is Willis Point. Tod Inlet runs along this land mass to the left. You can bear left and paddle directly towards the inlet by skirting Daphne Island or you can paddle along the eastern and southern shores of Brentwood Bay, following the shore along to the inlet. Brentwood Bay can be quite busy with boat traffic, so be careful and keep a careful watch while paddling.

As you paddle towards the inlet you will pass by Butchart Cove on your left. The dock you see in this cove belongs to Butchart Gardens. Their Tod Inlet boat tours leave from here.

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron on the shore in Tod Inlet

Once in the waters of Tod Inlet, and depending on the time of year you can often see lots of jellyfish. Along the shore there are lots of sea star and sun stars and in the trees along the shore or flying you will often see eagles and great blue herons.

The trees covered slopes on your right and surrounding Tod Inlet are part of Gowlland Tod Provincial Park. This park encompasses nearly the entire east side of Saanich Inlet, stretching from Goldstream all the way to Brentwood Bay. The trees along the shore to your left hide Butchart Gardens. During summer months Tod Inlet is a popular destination for boaters on Saturday nights when Butchart puts on their evening fireworks demonstration. If you decide to come out for this event, make sure to bring along a head lamp and better yet a full 360º visible navigation light as you will be paddling after dark and will be jockeying for position with a lot of other boaters, most of them bigger than you.

Paddle Boarding in Tod Inlet

Eventually you will come upon the remains of the piers of the old cement plant. In the background you will see a very tall, old smoke stack, also remains of the plant. You will notice lots of birdhouse’s attached to the piers, some of them designed to look like small RVs, and if you are there during the summer you should see lots of Purple Martins, a large relative of swallows, who make these home.

You can land on the sandy beach here and get out and go for an exploratory walk along the paths and back along the scenic ravine path towards Wallace Dr. You will see some of the old ruins, all that remains of the cement plant and supporting settlement that ranged all along the ravine here.

Make sure to bring a lunch or some snacks and just sit for a while and enjoy this spectacular area.

Tod Inlet Purple Martin Houses

Cormorants sitting on the Purple Martin Houses

Paddlers in front of the old pier

Back up against the trees there are some pit toilets, picnic tables and park benches,  or enjoy the sandy beach, so bring a lunch and enjoy the serenity of this beautiful inlet.

The man-made beach at Tod Inlet

How to Get There Downtown

Follow Chatham St and Caledonia Ave to Patricia Bay Hwy/BC-17/Blanchard St
Turn left onto Patricia Bay Hwy/BC-17/Blanchard St
Continue on Keating Cross Rd. Turn Right on W Saanich Rd, turn left on Verdier Ave to Public Beach Access on left
About 28 min
Alternative Route and a more scenic drive
Take Chatham St  and turn left on to Government St to Douglas St. Left on Douglas St to left on Burnside to Interurban.
Take Interurban Rd and turn left onto W Saanich Rd/BC-17A N to Verdier Ave in Brentwood Bay
Follow Verdier Ave to Public Beach Access on left
About 32 min

Paddle Route From Brentwood Bay to Tod Inlet

Total Distance about 5 Kms there and back.  Give yourself at least a couple of hours and more if you want to explore the trails.

Happy Paddling!

Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.