Hiking the Juan de Fuca Trail
The Juan de Fuca Trail is a spectacular and rugged 47km hike that follows the southwestern edge of Vancouver Island, BC (Canada). The trail begins at China Beach, and heads north, finally ending at Botanical Beach near Port Renfrew.
I did this hike a few years ago, and it ended up being one of the most memorable hiking trips of my life.
The beautiful Juan de Fuca Trail offers a little bit of everything along its 47km trail – plenty of wildlife, beautiful (strenuous) hiking trails, and spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean. There are some easy to moderate day hiking options along the trail, but it’s intent is for strenuous day or multi-day hiking trips.
Because the Juan de Fuca Trail hugs the coast, it doesn’t form a loop. So we decided to drive to the south trailhead at China Beach and ditch our backpacks in some bushes. From there, we drove and parked at the north trailhead in Port Renfrew – and proceeded to hitchhike back to China Beach.
After getting picked up for the first 3km of the drive, we walked for about 5km along the highway before getting picked up and dropped off at China Beach. It was my first time hitchhiking, but it’s a common occurrence in the area where we were – because you don’t end up where you started hiking.
This was our first glimpse of China Beach, where we started our hike.
After we took a few minutes at China Beach, we were off on the trail, and we didn’t see the beach again until 2km into the trail, when we stumbled across Mystic Beach.
We hiked 21km during the first day. It was hard – the hardest part of the trail, and the longest day of the hike. The trail itself was a muddy, disgusting slog. Lots of up-and-down through river valleys. It was definitely harder than either of us had anticipated, and I really struggled with the idea of continuing for the entire weekend.
We ended up camping at Chin Beach for the evening, where we had a hearty meal of rye bread, cheese, sausage, and oranges.
This was a bit of a rest day. The plan was to go 20km-20km-7km, but in favour of a more relaxing hike, we switched up our days – so our ‘easy’ day was Day 2 instead of Day 3.
After that decision was made, we started hiking the 7km to the next beach (Sombrio).
It wasn’t a long day, but the hiking was up-and-down again – a continuation of the day before.
The weather was absolutely gorgeous, and we spent the afternoon and evening just relaxing and exploring the beach. We were on vacation, after all! :)
The only downside was since it was a very very popular beach on Vancouver Island, we were surrounded by drunken hooligans pretty much the entire time. They left garbage strewn about the beach, let their dogs take craps in the fresh water streams (where hikers were continually filling up their water packs throughout the day). So gross to even think about. And obviously they didn’t care to clean up any of their mess. Thankfully, we were able to camp down the beach from their ridiculously crazy Tent City, and we ended up near a few other backpackers that had set up camp.
I woke up at 5:30am to a beautiful sunrise, and didn’t want to pack up camp and leave. But we had a 19km stretch hike to the finish!
The day started off all wrong. I had to get around Tent City – with people still drunk and fires still smouldering. And then the worst part was – I had to take off my hiking boots to cross a creek that was too deep for me to get across. If there’s anything that I hate the most when hiking, it’s having to take off my boots. :|
The northern portion of the trail wasn’t nearly as hard as Day 1, but on sore legs and with our backs killing us, it wasn’t that enjoyable. The trail itself was a disgusting sloppy mess, but I’d take the mud any day over the hills of Day 1 and 2. :)
The Juan de Fuca Trail was featured on my post: Hikes near Vancouver BC.
For more information on the Juan de Fuca Trail, make sure to check out this website.
Questions or comments? I would love to hear them! :)
Krystal Yee is a travel blogger and personal finance expert with substantial media credits to her name. Lover of off-beat travel, hiking, French macarons, barefoot shoes, and her iPhone. Excel spreadsheet addict. She is currently living in Vancouver, plotting her next adventure.