Escape the City

Juan de Fuca Trail

If you’ve already done a few overnight hiking trips and you want to push yourself a little further, the Juan de Fuca trail is an awesome next step that will take you through 4-5 days of natural wonders, waterfalls, and lots and lots of mud.

Similar to the West Coast Trail but shorter and much cheaper, the Juan de Fuca trail has a similar natural setting with fewer ladders. The hike can also be broken up into smaller sections, so if you’re not willing to go overnight you could always camp out at one of the many beaches on the way from Sooke to Port Renfrew.
We tackled the Juan de Fuca from North to South and have gathered a few tips if you’re planning on hiking the trail…

  • Everyone does South to North, but North to South is a perfectly fine option! (And we preferred it)
  • If you want a good campsite, make sure to get there early. Especially on weekends.
  • If you can’t find the perfect campsite, just keeping walking along the beach – sometimes they pop up in hidden locations.
  • On that note, don’t pitch your tent where the tide might hit it…
  • It’s going to cost you $10 per campsite, per night, per person. So if you camp 3 nights, pay up your $30!
  • You don’t have to put the note on your car, the rangers actually said it was a bad idea – encourages car theft…
  • Despite the fact you’re hiking next to the ocean, you won’t spend that much time hiking next to the ocean!
  • If you can’t see the buoys leading back into the forest in the distance, don’t take the chance…
  • It’s going to be muddy, bring hiking poles!
  • Everything will probably be damp most of the time, unless you’re really lucky. If the weatherman calls for sun, don’t trust them!
  • Always prepare for the worst and hope for the best!

Even if you have a plan of which beaches you’ll be camping at each night, expect to be flexible. The most difficult section just has a lot of ups and downs, but the moderate sections are LONG. You don’t want to be pushing it the entire time, take a few minutes to stop and smell the skunk cabbage! We definitely recommend spending extra time on Mystic Beach to check out the rope swing, and Sombrio to check out the slot canyon waterfall.

juan de fuca trail

Sample itinerary: From North to South we managed to Botanical Beach -> Sombrio -> China Beach -> Mystic Beach -> Car. The other way around you could do Bear Beach -> Chin Beach -> Sombrio  -> Car.

Oh, and after you’re done the trail – don’t forget to stop at Shirley Delicious for an amazing post-trail treat! This restaurant is infamous for its delicious food and extra-chatty owner.

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