May 16 - September 30 Bus service runs EVERY DAY CANCELLATIONS REQUIRE 10 DAYS NOTICE *Nanaimo Shuttle Bus Service: We Seasons: Spring (mid-February through June) typically proffers mild temperatures and rain, though our trip in April was heavenly. The winds were calm for most of the trip. There are four trailheads to the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail, at China Beach, Sombrio Beach, Parkinson Creek and Botanical Beach, all accessed off Highway 14. I look to my left, where the surf should be pounding, and see nothing but forest. This coastal adventure is a Vancouver Island essential along with it’s wilder counterparts: the West Coast Trail, the North Coast Trail, and the Nootka Trail. The Juan de Fuca Marine Trail travels 29 miles along Vancouver Island's southern coast. Ferry reservations: Washington State Ferries accepts reservations for the San Juan Island routes. Saw a fisher climb and jump through the trees at Little Kuitshe Creek camp. The West Coast Trail Express shuttle stops in Victoria, Sooke, China Beach, Sombrio Beach, Parkinson Creek, Port Renfrew, and connects to Nanaimo. With the exception of an occasional glorious knife-edged ridgeline, our whole day's hiking consists of gaining a few hundred feet of elevation only to immediately lose it-then regain it, then lose it. My finger is stroking the soft flesh of a bright-orange, 18-armed starfish when my name floats faintly across the rocks, "Johnny...Johnny...." In my subconscious I figure that Mom has found something especially cool to show me-maybe even an octopus stranded in a watery crevice. West Sombrio Beach (29 km) is super-popular with day-users, weekend campers, and surfers. He's not far ahead, as the spotted owl flies, but it will take a few minutes for Kristin and me to catch up because of all the switchbacks between us. There is only one main camping zone on Chin Beach (21 km). Still, for all my smug expressions of superiority, by the time we pull onto the beach for the night's camping my knees are sore and I'm ready to sit quietly beside our driftwood fire and gaze across the water. Stayed at Payzant and East Sombrio campsites. Nowhere can a hiker bushwhack easily, and in some places a combination of cliffs and dense brush would make escape from incoming tides downright unthinkable. The trail stretches from China Beach, 35 km west of Sooke, to Botanical Beach, just outside Port Renfrew.. Started late in the day at 1730. We returned to bed on the turning tide. Description: Little Kuitshe Creek is located along the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail, a 47 kilometre wilderness trail stretching along the western shoreline of the southern Island.This is a forest site set back from the water. The moon was 98% full and Mars glowed like a red ember just below. This resource includes information and tips to help plan your adventure in Juan de Fuca Provincial Park. There are many views looking across the Strait towards the state of Washington and marine wildlife can sometimes be spotted, such as orcas or seals. Note: The West Coast Trail may stay closed though the 2020 season. Excellent training. Juan de Fuca East Trailhead (China Beach) Located at Kilometre zero, the Juan de Fuca East Trailhead is the eastern terminus of the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail. At high tide, we exited the tent to watch a molten silver ocean swell and crash. During the next two days of hiking we alternate between loyally staying on the forest trail and gambling on following the coast. Boardwalk sections punctuated the smoother trail from Payzant Creek to Botanical Beach Trailhead. There are no advance reservations for campsites, but you are required to stay in a designated site (no unauthorized coastal camping). Cloudy, cool, and windy on days two and three. Completed a successful yo-yo on northwest section of the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail. Daily birds included eagles, hummingbirds, hermit thrushes, ravens, sapsuckers, varied thrushes, and an owl. All you really need is the simple B.C. Witness a recent clearcut and it's easy to think of nothing but destruction. The beach is small and camping can be crowded as Mystic is close to the China Beach Trailhead. Fortunately, the tension didn’t last forever. Maps and guidebooks: The West Coast Trail and Other Great Hikes, by Tim Leadem ($10.95, The Mountaineers Books; 800-553-4453) covers the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail in depth and includes a map. This trail is not as remote or untouched as other Vancouver Island coastal routes; however, it was still on our bucket list to complete together. In fact, we were able to easily ford the Sombrio River on stepping-stones. Past only two hikers of day heading the opposite way. We pause for a leisurely, sun-drenched lunch sprawled on a rock bench. The goal was to hike the northbound route over four days and three nights. Saw only three other hikers all day. Then we round a bend and the real thing makes us gasp and gaze upward in awe. After setting up early and feeling accomplished, we ate a snack of vegan cheese and crackers. From my long experience with other Pacific shoreline hikes, I figure we'll spend the morning feeling the crunch of beach pebbles and hearing the dull thud of boots walking on driftwood logs. We guessed at the water mark and settled into our spot behind a large log. There are tide problems at the east end (20.6 km) and the west end (21.3 km) of Chin Beach. 1. All are accessible off Highway 14 between Jordan River and Port Renfrew. There are places along the central beach and above the high-tide logs to create a tent platform away from the fray. You still get to see amazing vistas and shoreline and yea bears but without the difficult rope and ladder challenges on the WCT. With many day use options, with easy to moderate access, this is a great option for the whole family. As we took a break to photograph the waterfall, a trail runner slipped and fell hard on the slime-covered rocks. Campsites are first come, first served with the exception of China Beach Campground – which isn’t really on the trail anyway. It may be a reasonable location for a short over-night beginner backpacking trip. The Juan De Fuca Trail Bus picks up and drops off passengers at Victoria, Sooke, Jordon River, China Beach, Sombrio Beach, Port Renfrew, and Nanaimo. Swallows and other birds swooped for bugs while we devoured salty food. The trail from West Sombrio Beach to Little Kuitshe Creek was bushy and muddy, with overgrown salal through the clear cut. When we look closely among the trees we see massive stumps of the six-arms-reach variety. Sky was obscured, winds light west, temperature 11ºC and pressure steady at 1020 hPa. A few minutes later the beaten path drops to a bridge just a stone's throw from the shore. With thirsty brains, we realized halfway to town that we could remove our hot gaiters. Notable wildlife sightings included lots and lots of birds, a fisher, a couple of river otters, a raccoon camped beside me at Sombrio, and just missed a thrashing stinky bear southeast of Parkinson’s! There were only a few sections where beach hiking was possible, with the longest beach chunk around the Sombrio area. Since we're hiking east to west, we'll end our journey near Port Renfrew, the launch-point for British Columbia's most famous hike, the 45-mile-long West Coast Trail. When it was time for dinner, we reluctantly visited the main camp to collect water. Started and finished the trip at Mystic Beach trailhead. West of West Sombrio Bluff: 30.2 km. Juan de Fuca Provincial Park. In this article you will find all information needed to plan a hike on the Juan de Fuca trail, all about our hike; detailed itinerary and packing list. The most famous is the West Coast Trail, although the most visited is possibly the Wild Pacific Trail, but you can find interesting hikes from one end of Vancouver Island to the other. Contact: B.C. Spotted a fisher at Bear Beach campsite! A major feature of this park, the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail, is approximately 42 kilometres of wilderness trekking along the rugged shoreline. The tent sites at Payzant Creek Camp (40 km) are scattered around Payzant Creek on multiple forest levels. December 2, 2020 Filed Under: Coastal, Trail Guides, Trip Reports Tagged With: Backpacking, British Columbia, Canada, Juan De Fuca Provincial Park, Vancouver Island. The poor, thin, second-growth trees felt choked with smoke, crowds, and food smells. There are four trailheads to the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail, at China Beach, Sombrio Beach, Parkinson Creek and Botanical Beach. There were lots of boardwalk sections and high bluffs to view the ocean. We were probably a little crazy to hike the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail on a long weekend in May. Whales, marine birds and other wildlife can also be seen in the park. Spruce so big my arms can't span half around. Sun streaks flare across the moisture, which hangs lightly from damp boughs of coastal cedar. The trail: This 29-mile-long route meanders between forest and shore, though most of its length is inland. It was a wonderful break to hike freely along the ocean. "Heck with the trail," I say. BC Parks boards and maps were located at each camp and trailhead. In severe windstorms, the forest can become dangerous because of falling branches and trees; a sheltered spot on the coast is a better bet. The Juan de Fuca trail also offers spectacular views of the coastline, Juan de Fuca Strait and the Olympic Mountains. Our strategy is not without risk, since if we foolishly allow ourselves to be trapped by tides the consequence could be deadly. The Juan de Fuca Marine Trail officially reopened on June 1, 2020. The Juan de Fuca Marine Trail is a great shorter less difficult alternative to the West Coast Trail. Sky was obscured, winds light west, temperature 10ºC and pressure steady at 1020 hPa. Unlike the other 2 trails, neither campsites or transport need to be booked in advance on the JDF. We hiked on and finally dropped to the sand for a walk along the best beach of the trail (27 km). Near this green place, we encountered our first hiker coming the opposite way. The trail is primarily used for … Our feet were hot in water-resistant hiking boots plus low gaiters. "Odd, isn't it, how the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail does everything it can to avoid the shore?". Forest entrances were well-marked with orange floats hanging from trees. Then we bushwhack briefly inland to regain the trail until it grazes once more against the coast and we resume our iconoclastic wanderings. The car was there, lonely in the vast empty parking lot. Various beach and forest campsites are available; a typical three-night trip will include two nights next to the water and one in the woods. It got warm and windy in the afternoon, becoming cool and foggy again by sunset. The first few kilometres felt stiff and awkward. We look sheepishly at one another, then turn tail. Soon we reached a dry ridge that ultimately descended down to gorgeous Sombrio Point and beyond. Most of the important terrain features are encountered: steep … Got an early start at 0700 and enjoyed the low tide coastal route. The section from the China Beach Trailhead (0 km) to Bear Beach is one of moderate difficulty. To complete the entire trail in four days, we utilized Friday by hiking to Bear Beach in the late afternoon. Also, do not allow yourself to be trapped by rising tides in an exposed situation. Though my professional careers have been mountain-guiding and chronicling exploits in high places, the most fascinating terrain that I've set foot on lies not at the crests of continents but at their margins. Scott and Kristin are sipping coffee on a driftwood bench at our beachside campsite as I poke among the rocks and peer intently at tidal pools. And so it is that on the morning of our second day on British Columbia's new Juan de Fuca Marine Trail, nostalgia sweeps over me like a wave from the Pacific. Chin Beach west: 21.3 km4. But is NOW OPEN.. Don’t trip or stumble through the salal into the void! Wild Isle Publications. Unlike the longer West Coast Trail (75 km), the Juan de Fuca Trail does not require a reservation; however, there is a backcountry camping fee of $10 per person/per night. High on some of these we can see notches where planks were inserted by the old-time loggers, who stood on them to saw down the monstrous trees above their flaring trunks. But in no time an orange "Scotchman's ball" appears, hanging from a tree. All were headed for the same small campsite area. We climbed the last kilometre to the Botanical Beach Trailhead (47 km), excited to have achieved this goal together. The Juan de Fuca Marine Trail was created through the Commonwealth Nature Legacy to commemorate the 1994 Commonwealth Games in Victoria, BC. I glance skyward. Which explains why I've settled down to raise my family in Oregon, where summits and seacoasts are equally within reach. Wildlife viewing included lots of birds, especially eagles, a fisher, seals, and few other humans between Mystic and Chin. Woke to another morning of overcast skies. The Juan de Fuca Marine Trail is a great place to train your body and test your gear for longer coastal trips like the West Coast Trail or the North Coast Trail. The trail can be hiked in part, as a day hike, or backpacked in its entirety in four to six days. The trail is located in the Juan de Fuca Provincial Park offering scenic beauty, spectacular hiking, wildlife viewing and roaring surf along the Pacific coastline of the Strait of Juan de Fuca. As we wind among tall trees I'm fascinated by evidence of the forest's logging history. Once again we don't get far before we're blocked, this time by a wall of brilliant green moss reflecting into shallow tidal pools. easy (79) Length: 1.8 mi ... Makah Indian Reservation. There are two ways to pay: There are many ways to hike the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail. Half-hearted bear hangs decorated the trees in reach of any creature taller than a chipmunk. The China Beach Trailhead area spawned weekenders with coolers and heavily-loaded backpackers. You still get to see amazing vistas and shoreline and yea bears but without the difficult rope and ladder challenges on the WCT. Children from six to 15 years old are $5 per person per night. Winds were light southwest, temperature 10ºC, and pressure steady at 1024 hPa. Obstacles compounded the challenge, including a massive multi-tree blowdown at 16 km. Camped at Bear Beach the 1st and 3rd night and Chin Beach the 2nd night. Even the two sorry tent sites near the pit toilets were crammed with unsmiling hikers scraping noodles out of pots. We ate a hot lunch on the fascinating tilted rock that dominates the area. Weather was cool and foggy in the mornings, warm and windy in the afternoons, cool and foggy again overnight. 2007. Current topos do not show the trail and are useless for travel. I count the rings on two midsize blowdowns that trail-builders sliced through while laying our track: 400 years old-saplings when the Pilgrims landed on the far edge of the continent, giants in 1792 when Captain George Vancouver first circumnavigated this, his namesake island. Had good momentum and pushed through to end of trail, arriving at Botanical Beach Trailhead by 1535. We chose to stay because it split our last two days of hiking into even distances. Newer and shorter than the West Coast Trail, the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail is no less spectacular. It was time to get my trail legs back in shape. Carved into the mossy wall, a cave silently speaks of pounding waves and storm-tossed boulders. Another option would be to shuttle a second car to the opposite trailhead. We hurriedly collected water from VERY high upstream, treated it, and rushed back to our tiny oasis on the rocks. A long, classic west coast beach awaits at Sombrio Beach (27 km) with many places to pitch your tent. Reservation Camping Information & MAPS: Season: Reservations taken only for FEB. to OCT. of the same calendar year. Fares range from $30-140 per person depending on distance between shuttle stops. There's no one but us three and the occasional seal and bald eagle down on the rocks. Juan de Fuca Trail Schedule Reservations are strongly recommended !!! Surely, a premium spot awaited! Campfires smoldered. Payzant Creek Camp is nicer than Little Kuitshe Creek Camp, but there is no access to ocean views or the shoreline. There are also many on and off options so you can do shorter hikes if you like. After a walk along the pier, we met the West Coast Trail Shuttle for our ride back to the China Beach Trailhead. There were excellent views of Juan de Fuca Strait on the high points. Arrived at East Sombrio 1430 and only a half dozen camps on all of Sombrio Beach. The best wildlife of the day was hearing an eagle family in a tall tree near the ocean. We meet just three or four parties per day, usually the same people we've been keeping pace with throughout the four-day trip. Ahead, yards of sparkling, surging water. Only 11 other hikers on trail. Completed a second shakedown trip testing gear and food on southeast section of the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail. The extended partial trail closure from East Sombrio to Mystic faded any hopes of a thru-hike until after Jun 30. But not even such handiwork competes with my urge to walk the surf line. The rest of the day involved gentle forest hiking and another beautiful suspension bridge at Minute Creek (32 km). But the forest we're now walking through feels downright primeval, with its rotting deadfall and trunks so large it takes four arms to reach around them. The Juan de Fuca Trail is a beautiful wilderness trail that hugs the west coast of Vancouver Island between Jordan River(north of Sooke) and Port Renfrew. Our minds had trouble shaking the city and we weren’t “feeling the flow” as quickly as usual. Botanical Beach Provincial Park: Walk through the woods to the beach, not many people about. If you don’t snag one of these nice locations, you probably won’t want to hang out at Little Kuitshe Creek Camp too long. Woke to a foggy morning. Sites: Campsites #16-39; #50-68; #71-73, reservable FEB. 1 - OCT. 31: ALL campsites first come, first serve NOV. 1 - JAN. 31 Mostly in second-growth forest, the route bumped up-and-down endless creek gullies. Various beach and forest campsites are available; a typical three-night trip will include two nights next to the water and one in the woods. After many hours on the trail, we were happy to arrive at the emergency cabin that marked the east entrance to Chin Beach. Woke to overcast skies. There is a tide problem at 8.7 km. Scared a bear at 36 km. Old-growth spruce, hemlock, and cedar mostly, with an occasional fat-barked Douglas fir thrown in, show us what primeval really means. Getting there (and back): The Juan de Fuca is located on Vancouver Island, British Columbia. Although most of the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail is designed for strenuous day or multi-day hiking in this rugged and isolated area, some easy to moderate day hiking opportunities to the beach, or along the trail, are available from any of the four trailheads. Once the clock changed to 0035h, we knew we were safe from floating away to Olympic National Park. We took our time and enjoyed the easy flow of this section. Hemlocks rising out of fallen logs like snakes from a charmer's basket. "Next time it takes us back to the coast let's stick to the rocks.". The Juan de Fuca Marine Trail is a remarkable multi-day hike along the coast of Vancouver Island, Canada, progressing over beautiful beaches and through spectacular indigenous forest. Most hikers completing the Juan de Fuca Trail from China Beach will pass through Mystic Beach and camp at Bear Beach. Our reward for the long ascent from the Loss Creek suspension bridge (23.8 km) was a cruisey green section of flat road. The most dramatic backpack on this continent? The West Coast Trail is the best hike in the world. Fall (October through November) can be wet and wintry. Pay at a self-serve box at the beginning of the trail. A few day hikers coming up from Botanical Beach. Tents were pitched within inches of each other. Lots of eagles. The space is cool, pretty and green, much like the Ewok Village minus the teddy bears. It’s a fantastic place to watch for whales and relax after backpacking. As the trip organizer, I prepared us for tough going. A new edition is underway. Back at our lunch spot we climb silently up to the bridge and resume walking down the forested trail. Stone P. Coastal Hikes: A Guide to West Coast Hiking in British Columbia and Washington State. Allow an hour for the return drive from Botanical Beach, near Port Renfrew. Seals rolled with the surf at East Sombrio Camp and the mink ran from view at West Sombrio Point. The detour rewards us richly but leads us nowhere, so we retreat to the woods-bound path. Each stream is either a step-across or is spanned by a steel-girdered bridge large and strong enough to support at once every hiker to walk this way during the coming decade. After passing through the third camp zone of Bear Beach near Ledingham Creek (10.5 km), we spent our day climbing up and down endless creek valleys. Juan de Fuca East Trailhead (China Beach): Located at Kilometre 0, the Juan de Fuca East Trailhead is the eastern terminus of the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail. These fisherman's floats mark where the forest trail intersects the shoreline. The Juan de Fuca Marine Trail is a rugged 47 kilometres (29 mi) wilderness hiking trail located within Juan de Fuca Provincial Park along the southwestern coast of Vancouver Island. On our last day, we relished the fact that we didn’t have to beat crowds to a campsite. We hiked westbound from the China Beach Trailhead to the Botanical Beach Trailhead, completing the more difficult sections of the Juan de Fuca Trail first. A teasing edge comes into Scott's voice. But not why we came. Mammals included angry red squirrels, a mink, surfing seals, whales, and two separate black bear sightings. The section from Bear Beach to Chin Beach is notorious for its roller coaster terrain. Most of the trail is in good condition, but come prepared for stretches of mud, even in sunny weather. A brook gurgles peacefully from pool to pool, waves lap against the rocky coast, seagulls squawk, and the sandman is just beginning to dust my eyes. These few encounters, the distance markers every kilometer, outhouses at designated campsites, and occasional gravel roads conspire against a deep wilderness experience. The one redeeming quality of Little Kuitshe Creek Camp (33 km) is access to a gorgeous rocky shoreline. Both of us woke at midnight to the sound of waves loud and close. For much of this distance the trail is slightly inland, following the abandoned path of an old telegraph line installed for the safety of shipwrecked sailors. One of us (who shall remain nameless) spilled the freshly boiled lunch water down the uneven surface. Route conditions were very dry northwest of Payzant, muddier and bushier to West-West Sombrio. I turn back toward the beach. Bear Beach to East Sombrio Beach was the most difficult section because of cumulative elevation gain. coastal hike of 47km (29mi) sharing one of the WCT trailheads – Port Renfrew The trail stretches from China Beach, 35 km west of Sooke, to Botanical Beach, just outside Port Renfrew. A few folks braved the ocean for a cold, splashy bird-bath. Even though we got an early start, the drive out of Victoria on Friday afternoon was frustratingly slow. Saw lots of eagles and robins, and gear many Pacific wrens. . Furthermore, from what I’ve heard, all 3 … "John," he needles, "have we reached the hard part yet?". Trail-builders here wielded chain saws like craftsmen, creating elaborate stairways like none we've ever seen. Got a late start departing Botanical Beach Trailhead at 1730. Winter (December through early February) tends toward cold, wet, and windy. The food cache was out of reasonable “walking-in-the-dark-and-disturbing-people” range so we did a bear hang. Shoreline access gave us the chance to hike a massive tidal shelf for about one kilometre. 1st ed. From here visitors can either start the forty-seven kilometre hike or take a two and a half kilometre day trip to beautiful Mystic Beach. Bear Beach east (west of Rosemond Creek): 8.7 km2. To our left is ocean. We scramble around a low-tide passage and suddenly we're among the crowds at Botanical Bay, the famed provincial park where intertidal life is on display minutes from the road. Route was mainly dry until 1km east of Chin, where it became overgrown and muddy. Along about the umpteenth time that our trail switchbacks between towering Sitka spruce, Kristin finally voices what we three have been thinking. Botanical Beach offers one of the richest tidal areas found along the west coast, and … Reservation information can be on found their website. Our final descent brought us to a rock shelf and pebble beach. The Mystic Beach Camp (2.2 km) is very pretty with a waterfall at the east end and stretches of sand. After photos, we walked along the hot pavement to Port Renfrew for French fries and cold beverages. To the right, a 40-foot cliff capped by a head-high tangle of impenetrable greenery. I started the hike in light rain and warm temperatures. Despite the elevation changes, we made excellent time that day and were over-confident about camp. No one, that is, until finally we see a swarm of upright ants on a distant point. It was closed until June 1, 2020 due to COVID-19. System: CampLife Reservation system opens on JAN. 1st at 8am for reservations in same calendar year. A raven croaked in the trees above. Although locals long have retraced sections of this route for their personal hiking pleasure, the official path we're hiking was inaugurated just two years ago, making it one of the youngest backpacking trails in Canada. China Beach Trailhead to Mystic Beach was clear with minimal mud. The park is approximately 1,500 hectares (about 3700 acres or 5.8 square miles) with a continuous wilderness hiking trail following about 47 kilometres (29 miles) of coastline. There are six major tide problems along the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail. Are also many on and finally dropped to the next camp early were lots of birds especially... A chipmunk pit toilet and food on southeast section of the fray let 's go, '' i say located. 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