The Juan de Fuca Trail is a 47km hike along the west coast of Vancouver Island. It runs from just north of Victoria at Sooke to Port Renfew up the coast. Port Renfrew is the north end of the Juan de Fuca Trail and also the south end of the West Coast Trail, the famous 75km hike that skirts the coast north to Bamfield.
The Juan de Fuca features beautiful (and often muddy) single track trail through the coastal forest and along the rock and sand beaches. Portions of the trail can be done along the forest trail or the beach. Multiple areas of the trail are cut off at high-tide which can make timing important.
Campsites are in designated spots along the trail or on a few of the beaches. Distances hiking between the campsites range from 9km to 14km. Most people take between 4 and 6 days on the trail. 5 days is a perfect pace to hike the trail at but you may have to squish it into 4 to fit into the pesky schedule of those day jobs.
The south end of the trail undulates up and down adding up to hundreds of metres of elevation gain and loss over the trail. One particular hill up out of a creek and over a ridge near the middle of the trail felt so long, I dubbed it “the neverending hill”. The north end flattens out considerably and is a relaxing hike through the coastal forest over boardwalk and soft spongy ground.
You’ll see a huge variety of plant, tree and animal life along the trail. The plants range from tiny shrubs all the way to massive old growth cedars. Most of the forest is spacious and open but parts grow so tightly hardly any light hits the trail.
Birds and and other animals are often on the trail and may get into your food. Most of the campsites have bear caches where you can store your food overnight to prevent any issues. It’s always a good idea to bring some rope to hang it from a tree just in case. You probably don’t want to fight a bear over your food in the middle of the night.
Cougars and bears are fairly common on this part of the island so it’s recommended you make noise or carry bear bells to warn them of your arrival. Animals sightings are advertised at each information board along the trail.
If you’re really up for a speedy hike, a group from Victoria runs the 47km long single track trail in less than one day. Some of the times have gotten down around 5 or 6 hours for the entire trail. Now that’s a fast hike!
There’s more trail information on the BC Parks Juan de Fuca Trail page.
If you’re looking for a guidebook for all the details on spending a night (or 3!) out on the Juan de Fuca trail we have a full guidebook just for you with trail descriptions, gps tracks and 3, 4 and 5 day itineraries.check out the epic juan de fuca guidebook
Have you hiked the Juan de Fuca? What was your favourite part?