Juan de Fuca Trail in 2 days/ 1 night (Sooke/Port Renfrew)


The Juan de Fuca Marine Trail (JDF) is a  multi-day hiking trail on the Southwestern coast of Vancouver Island. It is a rugged coastal walk that goes through a trail with diverse landscapes. You will find yourself walking through thick forests, creeks, muddy terrains, sandy and rocky coastlines, busy camping spots, and sections that roller coaster up and down hills continuously. However,  it is all worth it for the gorgeous views you will encounter along the way.

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  • Moderate with difficult sections
  • 47 kilometers
  • approximately 1700m of elevation gain with all of the ups and downs
  • camping is permitted at designated areas

Our Route

Pat and I  started the hike at the traditional finish point by starting  in Port Renfrew at Botanical Beach.  We did it this way because we dropped our car off at China Beach and took the West Coast shuttle to Port Renfrew. The shuttle dropped us off 2.5km from the trailhead, but a nice guy drove us in his truck along the road to the 47km mark!


We did the hike during the August long weekend, and it was a great rain free weekend. We initially thought that we were going to walk the trail in 3 days, but we ended up walking the trail in 2.  We stayed the night in the emergency shelter at kilometer 26 at Chin Beach, and on the second day we walked the last 20 kms to China Beach to our car.

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We started the hike at about 9:30 am, and walked the first 10 kilometers to Parkinson Creek by 12:00. This part of the hike went through dense forested areas, but it was fairly easy and flat. This section did not have many nice views from the trail, but you could go down to the beach and find some really cool tidal pool spots. Some sections of the trail also allowed you to walk along the rocky coastline, so you had a choice if you wanted to stay in the forested area or not.

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Super dense forest before Parkinson Creek

This section was a bit anxiety driven because we were deep into the bush, and we had read that bears were prevalent in the area. We of course carried bear spray and tried to be as loud as possible by banging our trekking poles and singing, but the bear scare was real. One lady that passed us told us that she saw a bear about 10 meters off of the trail about 100 meters in front of us. We were scared to move on, but we kept going and didn’t run into the bear. However, another couple about 2 kilometers past her told us they saw a bear on the shoreline, which we did end up seeing! It was about 15 meters away from the trail head down a steep embankment, which is about as close as I would ever want to be to one in the wild.

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Black bear
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Signs all through out the trail
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Muddy and uneven footing
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Sooo much mud

Sombrio Beach was our original spot to stop and camp, but we when we got there it was only about 4pm so we decided to keep going. Sombrio was probably the prettiest spot along the whole trail, so I would recommend spending a night here if you are wanting to take your time. There are a lot of cool waterfalls in this area, and the beach camping spots are pretty unreal. The pictures at the bottom depict East Sombrio, and along this section you have to walk along the beach for about 1km or so. We didn’t get to it but there is a hidden waterfall to search for as well.

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Beach section of the trail close to East Sombrio
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Cool water runoff
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Another beach section of the trail
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Pebbled beach at East Sombrio

Once we got to Sombrio, it was crazy busy with campers. However, we were on a mission to get to Chin Beach, so we just kept going!

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Bridge to get to Sombrio
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The walk from Sombrio to Chin Beach was only 8km, but it was one of the hardest sections of the trail. There was a lot of ups and downs and extremely muddy sections. It took us over 3 hours to walk this section.

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soo many stairs
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flat section about half way through

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Viewing spot
muddy sections


Once we reached Chin the sun was starting to go down and it cast a really cool red lighting along the ocean. The smoke from the forest fires in the interior gave it this effect. In fact, all of Vancouver Island was pretty smokey that weekend, and we were pretty lucky that the air quality wasn’t that bad along the ocean trail


Beginning of Chin Beach
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Fresh water
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Our little camping stove

By the time we reached Chin Beach a lot of the camping spots were taken, so we ended up just staying the night in the emergency shelter. There were 2 bunk beds in the shelter and an area to hang up your food. It was actually a pretty cool spot because the walls are covered in hikers comments and stories. The start of Chin has really awesome camping spots, but apparently they go really quickly in the day. There are more camping spots if you walk about 500m along the shore. We could have slept in the spot where we cooked in the picture, but the ground was very uncomfortable to sleep on with all of the rocks.

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In the morning we woke up and left at about 8:30 and walked for half an hour until we found a really pretty spot to eat breakfast. By the time we drank our coffee and relaxed we started the grueling walk between China and Bear Beach.

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more fresh water

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This portion of the trail was just as hard as Sombrio to Chin, and the elevation gains and losses seemed never ending. There were several amazing view points along this section and we even saw a pod of orcas at one point. It took us about 4.5 hours to get to Bear Beach where we stopped and had lunch.


more mud
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orca whales

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Bear Beach Rock

The last 9 km to the end was one of the best parts of the hike. There were lots of pretty beach sections and the trail was really well maintained with cool ladders and bridges. Mystic Beach was gorgeous, and we almost stopped and stayed the night but we were pretty motivated to complete the whole trail. Instead we stopped and used our new little stove one more time and completed our last 2km on the trail. We got to our car at about 6 and were super stoked that we had completed the JDF.

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rope swing
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Mystic Beach cliffs
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Last cooking session

The last 9 km to the end was one of the best parts of the hike. There were lots of pretty beach sections and the trail was really well maintained with cool ladders and bridges. Mystic Beach was gorgeous, and we almost stopped and stayed the night but we were pretty motivated to complete the whole trail. We got to our car at about 6 and were super stoked that we had completed the JDF.IMG_2670.JPG

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camping along Mystic Beach

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Yayyy 0km mark

JDF Info

The JDF is located in the Juan de Fuca Provincial Park and it starts just outside of Sooke at China Beach and ends at Botanical Beach in Port Renfrew. There are 2 other access points along the trail, which are at Sombrio Beach and Parkinson Creek. Many people choose to do the trail in 5 days by splitting the trail up in to 10 km sections, but you can do it in as little as 1 or 2 days. We did the hike in one night and two full days, but many people choose to hike it slower by taking advantage of all the great camping spots along the way.  We even saw a dozen or so crazy people that were trail running the whole thing in 1 day. 

The trail is well marked along the way with maps and signs, and the beach access points are well marked with orange buoys.

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Trail Distance and Map

  • China 0km
  • Mystic 2km
  • Bear 9km
  • Chin 21km
  • Sombrio 29km
  • Little Kuitshe 33km
  • Parkinson 37km
  • Payzant 40km
  • Botanical 47km


One of the best parts about the JDF is that you do not have to plan in advance or get a permit to hike. The trail and campsites are open all year and you can just use the self-registration envelopes and safes along the trailhead to deposit your camping fee. You can also register online.

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Beach Sites: Camping at Mystic Beach, Bear Beach, Chin Beach and Sombrio Beach (East)
Forest Sites: Camping at Little Kuitsche Creek and Payzant Creek

Backcountry Camping Fee: $10.00 per person / night (persons 16 years of age and older)
Backcountry Camping Fee: $5.00 per child / night (persons 6 – 15 years of age)


  • It gets really cold outside in this area so make sure you bring warm layers
  • Camping at Sombrio is really busy because it is a trail access point, so if you want more serenity head to another campsite
  • If you want a real “outdoors experience” you may not find it on the JDF because of all of the access points. A lot of people come to just camp and not hike the trail.
  • Be mindful of the tidal times because there are some areas that you cannot cross when the tide is high.
  • There are extremely muddy sections that can get as deep as your knees. We chose not to use gaitors and we were fine, but we were super careful. It was in the midst of dry season when we went, so if it has rained when you decide to go the trail will be super muddy.


The traditional start  is at China Beach and the end is at Botanical Beach. There are free parking areas located at both locations. China Beach is 37 km west of Sooke and 36km east of Port Renfrew. You can obviously arrange rides yourselves, or you can book the West Coast Trail Express to pick you up or drop you off. The trail express also does one way pick up or drop offs. http://www.trailbus.com/

NOTE: the trail bus picks you up on the main road right in front of China Beach parking lot, but the location at Botanical is 2.5km away from the trailhead.

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