Juan de Fuca Marine Trail: China Beach to Botanical Beach (5 days / 50 km)

Juan de Fuca Marine Trail: China Beach to Botanical Beach

The Juan de Fuca Marine Trail (JDF) is a rugged point-to-point coastal backpacking trail located in Juan de Fuca Provincial Park on the southwestern coast of Vancouver Island. The 47 kilometre wilderness trail largely follows the coast, travelling up and down hills in the temperate rainforest and along sections of beach. This intermediate trail can be hiked in either direction, typically over 4 or 5 days. 

Aside from a few sections of easier beach walking, much of the terrain is highly technical, with lots of slippery tree roots, mud pits, and ageing infrastructure—including broken staircases and boardwalks—to navigate. For the most part, way-finding is easy on the trail. There are directional signs at key intersections and numbered kilometre markers along the way. The JDF Trail is considered similar in difficulty to the more famous West Coast Trail to the north. However, it’s supposedly muddier and definitely hillier, seeing hikers ascend 1800m of total elevation gain (according to my GPS watch). 

There are 4 trailheads to the JDF: Botanical Beach at the northern terminus, Parkinson Creek, Sombrio Beach, and China Beach at the southern terminus. Along the trail, you can camp at 4 beaches—Mystic Beach, Bear Beach, Chin Beach, Sombrio (East and West)—and in 2 forested areas—Little Kuitsche Creek and Payzant Creek. This route covers the full trail from China Beach to Botanical Beach, with camping at Bear Beach, Chin Beach, Sombrio West, and Payzant Creek. 

Trip Completed: August 2022

Exit from Chin Beach to the trailSombrio BeachCampsite at Sombrio Beach WestMorning surfers at Sombrio BeachThe Sombrio Beach (West) tide problemTide pools on the way to Payzant Creek Campsite at Payzant CreekBotanical Beach tide poolsCrossing Sombrio River at low tide instead of via the suspension bridgeAgeing trail infrastructure between Sombrio Beach and Payzant Creek
Mystic BeachLadders down to Bear BeachBear Beach at sunsetCampsite at Bear Beach


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