Why do I have to know about tides?
Tides are important to know about when hiking on the west coast. The water in the ocean rises and falls depending on the tides.
The distance it rises can be quite substantial and when hiking on the coast and this rise in the water level can cut off certain areas of the trails, preventing you from continuing. We don't want to that to happen. Luckily there are only a few spots on the trail where this can happen and you can get stuck. With tide tables from books or the internet, you can find out exactly how high these tides are going to be. If you do get stuck somewhere on the trail with a tide problem, they change every 6 hours so you'll just have to wait it out.
What are tide tables and do you read them?
Tide tables are charts that the Government of Canada has put together showing the tide levels for years in advance.
To use the tide tables find the dates that you'll be hiking the Juan de Fuca trail on the tide charts and see what the tide is going to be on each day you are hiking. Find the days where you are likely to be going past the 6 tide problems below and write down how high the tides are going to be. If they are higher than the highest passable height then you will have to wait it out or adjust your schedule.
Where are these tide issues?
There are only 6 places on the trail that are issues at high tide. Some of them you'll be able to detour around on the forest trail. This list includes the 6 areas on the trail where there are tide problems and the height of the tide that the section is impassible. So that means when the tide is higher than the height below you'll have to wait or find another way around.
Bear Beach - km 8.7 - 3.00m/9.8ft (No alternate route)
Chin Beach (East) - km 20.6 - 2.75 m/9.0 ft (No alternate route)
Chin Beach (West) - km 21.3 - 1m/ 3.0 ft (Use forest route unless tide is very low)
Sombrio Beach (East) - km 28.0 - 3.00 m/ 9.0 ft (No alternate route)
Sombrio Beach (West) - km 29.6 - 2.60 m/ 8.5 ft (Alternate route is washed out. Currently have to use beach route)
Sombrio Beach (West-west) - km 30.2 - 3.00 m / 9.0 ft (No alternate route)
How do I avoid these problems with the tides?
When you are planning your hike check your itinerary against the tide tables. Check the tides on each day you are going to hike and see how high they are at the approximate times you'll be at the sections where there are tide issues. For example, if you are going through the Bear Bear tide problem area at km 8.7 at 2pm and the tide is lower than 3.00 metres, then you won't have any problems. If the tide is higher than 3.00 metres at 2pm when you are at km 8.7 then will have some problems getting through.