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Juan de Fuca Provincial Park
About This Park
Juan de Fuca Provincial Park on the west coast of southern Vancouver Island offers scenic beauty, spectacular hiking, marine and wildlife viewing and roaring surf in its course along the Pacific coastline of the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
There are four main areas to the park: the China Beach Campground, the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail, the China Beach day-use area and Botanical Beach.
A major feature of this park, the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail, follows 47 kilometres of wilderness stretching along the western shoreline of the southern Island. There are four trailheads to the Juan de Fuca Trail at Juan de Fuca East (China Beach), Sombrio Beach, Parkinson Creek and Botanical Beach. Although most of the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail is designed for strenuous day or multi-day hiking/camping in this rugged and isolated area, some easy to moderate day hiking opportunities to the beach or along the trail are available starting from the trailheads.
At the east end of the park you’ll find the vehicle accessible China Beach campground and the China Beach day-use area. The campground is located in a forested area with open understory, about 1 km east of the China Beach day-use area and the Juan de Fuca East (China Beach) Trailhead. Trails connect the campground to China Beach and the adjacent smaller Second Beach, located east of the larger China Beach day-use.
At the west end of Juan de Fuca Park is Botanical Beach, one of the richest tidal areas along the west coast. Botanical Beach also has a unique shoreline framed by ridges of shale and quartz, which jut up through the black basalt to form huge tableaus. Botanical Beach is the western terminus for the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail and a popular day trip destination for visitors wishing to observe this sensitive and unique ecosystem. Wildlife viewing is best done at low tide, when visitors can walk out across the flat sandstone and granite outcroppings to view tide pools filled with brightly coloured marine life.
When visiting Botanical Beach, please look in the tide pools only – do not touch the marine life. Do not remove, collect or disturb any tide pool life, shells, plants, flowers, kelp, etc. Even touching the water in a tide pool with sunscreen on your hands can create an “oil slick” that could kill the vulnerable creatures in this sensitive ecosystem. Remember to bring your camera, as photographs make great souvenirs.
Juan de Fuca Provincial Park offers ample opportunity to view larger marine mammals as well, including Grey and killer whales, which can often be spotted feeding just off the points. The best time to see Grey whales is during their migration from the Mexican coast to Alaska in March and April. Seals and sea lions can also often be seen playing offshore.
Special Features: This park contains numerous special natural features, including waterfalls, grottos, old growth forest, estuaries, tide pools and shale and quartz rock formations.
Established Date: April 4, 1996
Park Size: 1,528 hectares (1,381 ha upland, 147 ha foreshore)
Know Before You Go
Alert: When visiting Botanical Beach, please respect the fragile intertidal environment by following these steps:
Take Only Photos – Do Not Touch or Collect Organisms
Touching causes damage and stress to marine organisms. Additionally, oils from your hand and other foreign substances (such as sunscreen and insect repellant) can be harmful to marine life.
Be Safe, Watch for Waves and Step on Bare Rock
Most rocks are covered with living plants and animals – step carefully to avoid crushing them. Rocks covered in seaweed and barnacles can be slippery and sharp!
Do Not Disturb Wildlife
Do not remove rocks, shells, wood, plants or any other natural items from the park. These natural objects provide important shelter and protection for smaller marine animals. Please keep dogs on a leash.
Tsunamis are a series of unusually big waves caused by a large-scale disturbance of a body of water. If you are on the beach and feel strong shaking from an earthquake or if the water suddenly recedes, move immediately to higher ground (greater than 15 metres or 45 feet above the tide line). There is no way to be certain how high a tsunami is going to be. The first wave to arrive at the coast is often not the largest, and each wave may be separated by up to an hour or more. Waves may continue for up to twelve hours, so you must stay on high ground until advised otherwise. Do not go to the beach to watch.
Beach Safety and Tides
Exposed beaches along Juan de Fuca Provincial Park are subject to “rogue” waves. Please show respect for surf and waves. Watch for unusually large rogue waves that occasionally hit the beach. These waves are capable of pulling a person into the water. Keep children away from the surf.
Watch for orange balls as you hike, they mark an exit from the beach to the trail. Beaches may be cut off from the trail during high tides and storms.
Tide tables are posted at trailheads and available at local bookstores. Use Canadian Tide Tables “Port Renfrew” section. Remember to use the PDT (Pacific Daylight Savings Time) for tidal times during March to November, as Daylight Savings Time is in effect. Visitors should reference the Fisheries and Oceans tide table for Port Renfrew, Vancouver Island, British Columbia.
Juan de Fuca Marine Trail
The Juan de Fuca Marine Trail is designed as a wilderness hiking trail. Hiking conditions are always changing and hikers should get up-to-date information before hiking. Additional advisories may be posted at the trailhead information shelters. Your fitness, knowledge, skills and equipment must meet the challenges of the area. All hikers in your group must be prepared for at least the following:
- rugged, uneven ground and slippery conditions on muddy trails, wooden surfaces, boulders and rocky shorelines.
- wading creeks, negotiate steep slopes, climb embankments, and follow an irregular trail.
- damaged structures, wear and tear, storms and other factors may quickly change their condition.
- be prepared for rain & damp mists - incidents of hypothermia and physical injury increase significantly during prolonged wet period.
- accidents and injuries. It may take hours before help arrives if an accident occurs.
Hikers are advised to leave a plan of their trip, including which trail they are hiking, and arrival and departure times with a friend or relative.
This park is prime habitat for bears. Please be bear aware & check out the Bear and Cougar Safety Guide. Remember, A fed bear is a dead bear.
The Juan de Fuca Trail does not connect to the West Coast Trail, part of Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. Private bus service to the Juan de Fuca Trail may be available from nearby communities.
Note: See Tourism BC for transportation options to the Juan de Fuca Trail.
Campsite reservations are accepted for the China Beach Campground through Discover Camping. First-come, first-served sites are also available.
Group Campsite Reservations: No group campsites at this park.
Location and Maps
Please note: Any maps listed are for information only; they may not represent legal boundaries and should not be used for navigation.
Maps and Brochures
Nature and Culture
History: The Juan de Fuca Marine Trail was created through the Commonwealth Nature Legacy as an enduring reminder of the 1994 Victoria Commonwealth Games. Preservation of a living legacy of unprecedented natural beauty, accessible to all, was considered a fitting tribute to the spirit of the Games.
Construction and preservation of the Trail has been made possible by the efforts of government, local industries, First Nations and citizens. Land exchanges and gifts of land have come from Western Forest Products and Timber West. Trail upgrades have been undertaken with funding from Forest Renewal BC and the Environment Youth Team (E-Team).
The Juan de Fuca Marine Trail was originally part of a lifesaving trail that serviced this area, known at the time as the Graveyard of the Pacific.
Conservation: The park protects significant marine tidal pool life at Botanical Beach as well as black bear and cougar habitat. The region is so biologically significant that the University of Minnesota installed the first marine research station in the Pacific Northwest at Botanical Beach in 1901. Since then, the area has been used for research by a number of universities in BC and Washington. Red, purple and orange starfish and sea urchins, white gooseneck barnacles, blue mussels and green seas anemones and sea cucumbers only begin to hint at the colourful spectrum of intertidal life thriving here.
Do not harvest shellfish or other plants and animals. They form an important part of the area’s natural environment and are protected under the Provincial Park Act.
- General Wildlife, Marine & Outdoor Ethics Information
- Management Planning Information
Approved Purpose Statement and Zoning Plan – Juan de Fuca [PDF]
This is not the original management planning product. This document has been scanned from the original format of the plan. It may contain some formatting changes, however the content is consistent with the original.
- Approved Management Plan – Botanical Beach [PDF 1.25MB]
Activities Available at this Park
Fishing is permitted as per provincial and federal fishing regulations. All anglers should check the current regulations issued by Fisheries and Oceans Canada prior to fishing. Anyone fishing or angling in British Columbia must have an appropriate licence.
- The western section of the park around Botanical Beach contains two smaller trails: Mill Bay and Botanical Loop. The Mill Bay Trail accesses a small pebble and shell beach; portions of this trail are steep. Parking for this trail is at the Mill Bay Trailhead, beside the road to Botanical Beach. Botanical Loop Trail connects Botanical Beach and Botany Bay. This is an easy to moderate walk.
- China Beach day-use: A scenic 1 km trail leads from the parking lot through mature forest to the beach. A large viewing deck offers views of the beach and Juan de Fuca Strait. This is an easy to moderate, fairly steep trail.
- Second Beach Trail: Second Beach can be reached from the China Beach campground via stairs and a 1 km long fairly steep gravel trail. The 15-20 minute hike (each way) through the mature forest of Sitka spruce, Douglas fir and Western red cedar leads visitors to the great rolling breakers of a tumultuous sea. Benches along the way provide a spot for visitors to stop to enjoy the views of Juan de Fuca Strait.
Pets on Leash
Dogs are allowed on the beach area of China Beach and also China Beach day-use area, but please ensure that dogs are kept on a leash at all times.
NOTE: The foreshore around Botanical Beach and Botany Bay as well as the foreshore from Little Kuitsche to Payzant Creek is closed to scuba diving.
Botanical Beach offers one of the richest tidal areas found along the west coast, and opportunities for viewing in these tide pools is excellent. A low tide of 1.2 metres or less is best for viewing these tide pools. Use Canadian Tide Tables “Port Renfrew” section. Remember to use the PDT (Pacific Daylight Savings Time) for tidal times during March to November as Daylight Savings Time is in effect. Visitors should reference the Fisheries and Oceans tide table for Port Renfrew, Vancouver Island, British Columbia.
When visiting Botanical Beach, please look in the tide pools only – do not touch the marine life. Do not remove, collect or disturb any tide pool life, shells, plants, flowers, kelp, etc. Even touching the water in a tide pool with sunscreen on your hands can create an “oil slick” that could kill the vulnerable creatures in this sensitive ecosystem. Photographs make great souvenirs.
Facilities Available at this Park
China Beach Campground: While fires are allowed, we encourage visitors to conserve the environment by minimizing the use of fire and using stoves instead. Campfire rings are provided at each campsite. Firewood can be purchased from the Park Operator or you can bring your own wood. Fees for firewood are set locally and may vary. To preserve vegetation and ground cover, please don’t gather firewood from the area around your campsite or elsewhere in the park (this is a ticketable offence under the Park Act). Dead wood is an important habitat element for many plants and animals and it adds organic matter to the soil. You can conserve firewood and air quality by keeping your campfire small. Limited burning hours or campfire bans may be implemented. Be prepared to bring a portable stove for cooking.
Juan de Fuca Marine Trail: Portable campstoves for cooking will be required at some campsites. Small fires are permitted on beaches below the high tide mark. Use only driftwood for fires – do not cut trees or snags or use other vegetation (this is a ticketable offence under the Park Act). Never leave your fire unattended and practice
“Leave No Trace” camping ethics.
- China Beach: Cold water taps are located throughout the area.
- Juan de Fuca Trail: Bring your own drinking water as potable water is not available in the area. Water is available from streams but must be boiled, treated or filtered before drinking.
Pit or Flush Toilets
Vehicle Accessible Camping
Juan de Fuca Trail: No vehicle accessible camping except at three of the trailhead parking lots – Juan de Fuca East (China Beach), Sombrio Beach and Parkinson Creek. These areas are for self-contained units only. Only backcountry fees apply when vehicle camping at Sombrio Beach or Parkinson Creek. Vehicle Accessible Camping fees do apply at China Beach. There is no camping at the Botanical Beach Trailhead.
- Beach Sites: Camping at Mystic Beach, Bear Beach, Chin Beach and Sombrio Beach (East) is available on the beach. Please use camping pads at West Sombrio camping area; otherwise there are no designated sites. Remember to camp on the beach to prevent degradation of the forest vegetation.
- Forest Sites: Camping at Little Kuitsche Creek and Payzant Creek is in the forest and away from the beach. There is limited shoreline access at Little Kuitsche Creek and no shoreline access at Payzant Creek. Fires are not permitted at these sites. A portable campstove will be required for cooking. Camp only on designated tent pads.