The original trail that is the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail of today originated as part of the telegraph line constructed in 1890, linking Victoria with Cape Beale near Bamfield.
Unlike the longer and more famous West Coast Trail, this southern portion of the trail was not part of The Lifesaving Trail, and was not included in the update program that revived the present day West Coast Trail.
The Juan de Fuca Marine Trail in Juan de Fuca Provincial Park is designed as a 3 to 4 day wilderness hiking trail, a 47 kilometre stretch along the western shoreline of Southern Vancouver Island from China Beach, just west of the community of Jordan River, to Botanical Beach near Port Renfrew. 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.
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. Most of the trail is designed for strenuous day or multi-day hiking in this rugged and isolated area, although many easy to moderate day hiking opportunities to the beach and along the trail are available from any of the four trailheads.
Sections that are rated “most difficult” include creek crossings, steep changes in elevation and beaches that are covered at high tide, making a through trip an undertaking suitable for strong, self-reliant hikers only. Detailed information is essential and is available from guide books and BC Parks.
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Botanical Beach affords visitors access to uniquely rich tidal pools and shoreline trails with fantastic geological formations.
Parkinson Creek Trailhead
Parkinson Creek Trail provides access to begin or end a day-long (10 km) hike to Botanical Beach, or a 9-km hike to Sombrio Beach. This is a moderate section of the trail through beautiful mature forest.
Sombrio Beach is a large cobble beach and an easy 10-minute walk along the trail from the parking lot. Explore the beach, camp, surf or hike eastward along the beach.
China Beach boasts a fine sandy beach ideal for picnicking, sand building, wading and relaxing. A wide gravel trail (some steep sections) suitable for most young children and the elderly takes you from the parking lot through mature forest to the beach. Take a short walk to the waterfall at the western end of the beach, or wander at length on the beach to the east.
Hiking conditions are always changing and hikers should obtain up-to-date information from the trailhead information shelters before proceeding on a hike. Hikers are advised to leave a plan of their trip with a friend or relative, including which trail they are hiking and arrival and departure times.
Watch for orange balls as you hike, as they mark an exit from the beach to the trail. At high tides and during storms, beaches may be cut off from the trail. Carry your Tide Tables and remember to add one hour to the listed tidal times during May to October, as Daylight Savings Time is in effect.
Hikers must stay on designated trails to preserve the delicate vegetation and natural and cultural features of the area. Show respect for the sea and keep children away from the surf and waves. Large rogue waves capable of pulling a person into the water occasionally hit the beach.
Camping along the trail is available in both beach and forest sites. Beach camping is available at Mystic Beach, Bear Beach, Chin Beach and Sombrio Beach. Forest sites are available at Little Kuitche Creek and Payzant Creek.
Fees are collected at the China Beach, Sombrio Beach and Parkinson Creek trailheads for vehicle-camping in the parking lot. No overnight camping is allowed at Botanical Beach.
Bring your own drinking water, as no potable water is provided. Water from streams must be boiled or treated before drinking. Food should be cached and out of the reach of animals. Pack out what you pack in, to avoid attracting bears. As this is a wilderness area, black bears and cougar may be present.
The trail is open all year round. Self-registration envelopes and safes are located at each trailhead for depositing your camping fee.
The Juan de Fuca Marine Trail does not connect to the West Coast Trail, which is part of the Pacific Rim National Park.
From Sooke, travel 23 miles (37 km) on Highway 14 towards Port Renfrew. The turn off to the China Beach parking area, and the start of Juan de Fuca Marine Trail, is 2.5 miles (4 km) after the Jordan River bridge.