Hiking the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail
This long-distance hiking trail links China Beach Park, just past the town of Jordan River, to Botanical Beach Provincial Park, near Port Renfrew, along a stretch of near-wilderness coastline. Similar to the famed West Coast Trail but less extreme, the rugged 47km (29-mile) trail offers scenic beauty, spectacular hiking, wildlife-viewing, and roaring surf in its course along the Pacific coastline of the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Most of the trail is designed for strenuous day or multiday hiking. Unlike the West Coast Trail, it can be easily broken down into daylong segments between trail heads accessed along Hwy. 14: China Beach, Sombrio Beach, Parkinson Creek, and Botanical Beach. Plan on 3 days to hike the entire length; campsites are regularly spaced along the trail.
Conditions are always changing, so obtain up-to-date information before proceeding by checking the trail-head information shelters. If you're camping, keep a tide chart handy and refer to trail-head postings about points that will be impassable at high tide. Wear proper footwear -- the trail gets very muddy -- and appropriate clothing, plus rain gear if you're going to camp. And leave a plan of your trip (including which trail you're hiking), with arrival and departure times, with a friend or relative. Also, don't leave a car full of valuables in the trail-head parking lots -- break-ins are common.
For information on Juan de Fuca Marine Park, contact BC Parks, South Vancouver Island District, 2930 Trans-Canada Hwy., Victoria, BC V9E 1K3 (tel. 250/391-2300; www.env.gov.bc.ca/bcparks).