Between Sooke to Port Renfrew lay many beautiful beaches and trails.

Between Sooke to Port Renfrew lay many beautiful beaches and trails, from Provincial park beaches, surfing in Jordan River and places to eat along your journey. The road doesn’t just stop in Port Renfrew, you may continue your journey on the Pacific Marine Circle Route, more details below…

Pacific Marine Circle Route

The Pacific Marine Circle Tour which incorporates West Coast Highway #14 from Victoria, Sooke to Port Renfrew is an excellent way to explore the historic West Coast of southern Vancouver Island. The wilderness route traces the coastline from Victoria through Sooke and Port Renfrew continuing on to Cowichan Lake and the Cowichan Valley finally looping back down the Trans-Canada Highway via Duncan and the Malahat to Victoria.

Sooke

The welcoming community of 11,000 people is situated between a wild, towering rainforest and the dramatic Pacific Ocean. It’s only an hour’s drive from downtown Victoria, but Sooke offers visitors the untamed experience for which Vancouver Island’s far west coast is famous.

Here too the Pacific Ocean swells crash against sandy beaches and storm-blasted caves, offering up a wealth of marine treasures for the roving beachcomber. This is beautiful B.C. in top form.

French Beach

French Beach Provincial Park offers much more than just beautiful hiking trails through lush forests. It is a perfect location for young families, with no long hikes dragging the kids to reach the beach, as there’s paved access right from the parking lot.

Bring your frisbees, kite, ball and picnic basket. On your way to the beach, there are large lawn areas, picnic tables and a kids’ play area with slide and swing.

Sandcut Beach

Sandcut Beach is situated between French Beach Provincial Park and Jordan River, just 31 kilometres west of Sooke on Highway 14. Access to the beach is clear with a gravel parking lot and it is only a 15 minute hike from the parking area along a rugged wooded trail leading to a stone and pebble beach with sandstone and waterfalls. Note that small children and anyone with bad knees may need help with steep stairs on your way down to the beach.

Jordan River

Jordan River is located on the West Coast Road on southern Vancouver Island, halfway between Sooke and Port Renfrew, approximately 38 miles (60 km) northwest of Victoria.

The tiny logging community of Jordan River offers a terrific views of the open Pacific Ocean. Also a favourite location for local surfers.

There is a convenient picnic park and a small campsite for overnight visitors at Jordan River. The camping is designed partly for RVs, facing the water. Each campsite has a picnic table and fire pit. You’ll also find tent camping areas as well. Outdoor toilets are nearby but there’s no hook up for water and electricity. Plan well. French Beach Provincial Park has septic emptying facilities.

China Beach

China Beach is located approximatively 75.3 km west of Victoria, on the West Coast Road of southern Vancouver Island. . . only a short 4.5 km drive past Jordan River. A large fine sand beach, ideal for picnics, sand castle building and relaxing. The easy 15 min graded trail from the parking lot to the beach allows easy access for most everyone. There’s a long set of stairs just before arriving at the water.

Mystic Beach

Mystic beach has been for many years one of my favorite hikes. At about 2km (45 min) hike from the parking lot to the beach through beautiful ancient forest and well maintain trail. You will pass a cool suspension bridge about half way. There are small caves on the western side of the beach that you can reach and explore during low tide and the waterfall on the east side is for sure going to catch your attention. At low tide, you can walk right under it.

Sombrio Beach

Sombrio Beach is a hidden gem for surfers and less crowded than Jordan River; more private and inviting too. Sombrio Beach is only a 15 minute hike from the parking lot. Once at the beach, look for the hidden waterfall. Unless someone tells you about it, you could easily miss it and never know it was there, despite it being so close.

Port Renfrew

West of Jordan River and China Beach is the small village of Port Renfrew. Port Renfrew calls itself The Jewel of the West Coast, where you can experience the tranquility and beauty that has made the West Coast famous

Port Renfrew has a history rich in forestry and fishing, and today offers some of the best salmon and halibut fishing in North America.

Port Renfrew is best known as the trailhead for both the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail (47 km hike) and the historic West Coast Trail, (75 km hike), a world-famous hiking trail built in 1907 to save sailors shipwrecked on the rugged coastline. Both routes are rigorous hikes, with steep grades and roaring surf at almost every turn.

Botanical Beach

Botanical Beach is known for its tidal pools, the great Botanical loop trail, storm watching in the winter months and abundance of wildlife.

Visiting Port Renfrew and not hiking at Botanical Beach would be like visiting New York City and not going to the Statue of Liberty. Botanical Beach and nearby Botany Bay can be accessed at the end of Cerantes Road from the large roundabout parking lot in the Juan de Fuca Provincial Marine Park which includes a great nearby picnic table area.

Pacheedaht

Pacheedaht Beach is located on the First Nation reserve in Port Renfrew, near the beginning of the West Coast Trail. This 2 km beach is a popular place for campers and beach lovers. The sandy beach with its mass of driftwood (and logs) is a delight for dogs playing catch in the water. In the winter months, Pacheedaht is good for surfing as well.

Avatar Grove

Avatar Grove and Canada’s gnarliest tree is an amazing thing to see. Dubbed Canada’s Gnarliest’s Tree this mammoth cedar will surely leap from the unknown to the feature of millions of tourist photos in the coming years.

 Avatar Grove is a 50 hectare area of old growth forest that has shot to prominence in this part of the world and groups everywhere are embracing it as something to be saved, admired and loved.  Wooden stairs and a boardwalk have been constructed with a viewing platform at the base of the Gnarly Tree.  Hike along the moss covered forest floor underneath the canopy of the gnarliest trees in Canada.

Click Learn More about Avatar Grove, to see Pictures, Map and Directions.

Big Lonely Doug

Big Lonely Doug is gargantuan, old-growth Douglas-fir tree standing alone in a recent logging clearcut near Port Renfrew.  Lonely Doug is a tree with a trunk as wide as a living room and stands taller than a downtown skyscraper.  Doug’s total size comes in just behind the current champion Douglas-fir, the Red Creek Fir, the world’s largest, which grows just one valley over. 

Located just north of Avatar Grove, both trees can easily be visited in the same day.

San Juan Sitka Spruce

The San Juan Sitka Spruce resides next to a bridge about 20 km up the San Juan River east from Renfrew. This massive building-sized tree is Canada’s largest spruce tree when measured by wood volume (333 cubic meters). You can see the 62.5 meter top of it from the bridge as you cross the river. It is in an area where other large Sitka spruce can be seen poking up like islands in the sea of second growth around them. As you turn left at the end of the bridge and descend down to the San Juan River Bridge Forestry Recreation Site, the full 3.71 meter diameter of the champion spruce comes into view. 
 
The San Juan Spruce is all out of proportion compared to what one normally thinks of as a typical tree. It would take several adults holding hands to circle the 11.6 metre circumference base. 

Red Creek Fir

The largest Douglas fir tree in the world grows only a 45 minute drive from Port Renfrew. The Red Creek Fir measures 43.7 feet in circumference (14 feet in diameter), stretches 242 feet tall, with a crown spread of 75 feet. The tree is truly mammoth in size

and is a must-see for big tree lovers. Along the trail there are also three giant cedars that deserve a good look as well.

The Red Creek fir is recognized as the largest living tree of its species on earth.

After parking in the small pullout, find the route marker on the right hand side of the road. The path is fairly clear and easy to follow; it takes approximately 10 minutes to reach the tree. Be sure to check out the giant red cedars on the path’s left-hand side about

half way up!

Lizard Lake

Another unique feature of Lizard Lake is the large 80 -100 foot boardwalk pier extending out from the shore. From the pier, extended out on the lake, people can fish, swim and launch canoes. Some of the other activities enjoyed at this Port Renfrew lake include hiking, mountain biking, picnicking, sightseeing, wildlife watching, camping and suntanning.

There is a sandy beach on Lizard Lake. There is a small wilderness campsite nearby. Some campsites are drive in sites and some are walk in sites. All include picnic tables and fire pits. There are pit toilets in the park.

Fairy Lake

Fairy Lake Nature Trail is part of a BC Forest Recreation Site and located about 5 km from Port Renfrew . The lake is a sandy beach recreation destination, complete with campsite, located up stream from the mouth of the San Juan River.

The BC Forest Site is a quick get-a-way for many locals and a great find for visitors. Some of the activities enjoyed at the lake include hiking, swimming, camping, canoeing, mountain biking, picnicking, suntanning and fishing.

What is unque about the lake is the lone twisted tree poking out of the lake. In the middle of the lake is a sunken log with one end poking up. Perched on the exposed end of the log is a single dwarfed fir tree poking out of the water.

Pacific Marine Circle Route

The Pacific Marine Circle Route which incorporates West Coast Highway #14 from Victoria, Sooke to Port Renfrew is an excellent way to explore the historic West Coast of southern Vancouver Island. The wilderness route traces the coastline from Victoria through Sooke and Port Renfrew continuing on to Cowichan Lake and the Cowichan Valley finally looping back down the Trans-Canada Highway via Duncan and the Malahat to Victoria.

Sooke

The welcoming community of 11,000 people is situated between a wild, towering rainforest and the dramatic Pacific Ocean. It’s only an hour’s drive from downtown Victoria, but Sooke offers visitors the untamed experience for which Vancouver Island’s far west coast is famous.

Here too the Pacific Ocean swells crash against sandy beaches and storm-blasted caves, offering up a wealth of marine treasures for the roving beachcomber. This is beautiful B.C. in top form.

French Beach

French Beach Provincial Park offers much more than just beautiful hiking trails through lush forests. It is a perfect location for young families, with no long hikes dragging the kids to reach the beach, as there’s paved access right from the parking lot.

Bring your frisbees, kite, ball and picnic basket. On your way to the beach, there are large lawn areas, picnic tables and a kids’ play area with slide and swing.

Sandcut Beach

Sandcut Beach is situated between French Beach Provincial Park and Jordan River, just 31 kilometres west of Sooke on Highway 14. Access to the beach is clear with a gravel parking lot and it is only a 15 minute hike from the parking area along a rugged wooded trail leading to a stone and pebble beach with sandstone and waterfalls. Note that small children and anyone with bad knees may need help with steep stairs on your way down to the beach.

Jordan River

Jordan River is located on the West Coast Road on southern Vancouver Island, halfway between Sooke and Port Renfrew, approximately 38 miles (60 km) northwest of Victoria.

The tiny logging community of Jordan River offers a terrific views of the open Pacific Ocean. Also a favourite location for local surfers.

There is a convenient picnic park and a small campsite for overnight visitors at Jordan River. The camping is designed partly for RVs, facing the water. Each campsite has a picnic table and fire pit. You’ll also find tent camping areas as well. Outdoor toilets are nearby but there’s no hook up for water and electricity. Plan well. French Beach Provincial Park has septic emptying facilities.

China Beach

China Beach is located approximatively 75.3 km west of Victoria, on the West Coast Road of southern Vancouver Island. . . only a short 4.5 km drive past Jordan River. A large fine sand beach, ideal for picnics, sand castle building and relaxing. The easy 15 min graded trail from the parking lot to the beach allows easy access for most everyone. There’s a long set of stairs just before arriving at the water.

Mystic Beach

Mystic beach has been for many years one of my favorite hikes. At about 2km (45 min) hike from the parking lot to the beach through beautiful ancient forest and well maintain trail. You will pass a cool suspension bridge about half way. There are small caves on the western side of the beach that you can reach and explore during low tide and the waterfall on the east side is for sure going to catch your attention. At low tide, you can walk right under it.

Sombrio Beach

Sombrio Beach is a hidden gem for surfers and less crowded than Jordan River; more private and inviting too. Sombrio Beach is only a 15 minute hike from the parking lot. Once at the beach, look for the hidden waterfall. Unless someone tells you about it, you could easily miss it and never know it was there, despite it being so close.

Port Renfrew

West of Jordan River and China Beach is the small village of Port Renfrew. Port Renfrew calls itself The Jewel of the West Coast, where you can experience the tranquility and beauty that has made the West Coast famous

Port Renfrew has a history rich in forestry and fishing, and today offers some of the best salmon and halibut fishing in North America.

Port Renfrew is best known as the trailhead for both the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail (47 km hike) and the historic West Coast Trail, (75 km hike), a world-famous hiking trail built in 1907 to save sailors shipwrecked on the rugged coastline. Both routes are rigorous hikes, with steep grades and roaring surf at almost every turn.

Botanical Beach

Botanical Beach is known for its tidal pools, the great Botanical loop trail, storm watching in the winter months and abundance of wildlife.

Visiting Port Renfrew and not hiking at Botanical Beach would be like visiting New York City and not going to the Statue of Liberty. Botanical Beach and nearby Botany Bay can be accessed at the end of Cerantes Road from the large roundabout parking lot in the Juan de Fuca Provincial Marine Park which includes a great nearby picnic table area.

Pacheedaht

Pacheedaht Beach is located on the First Nation reserve in Port Renfrew, near the beginning of the West Coast Trail. This 2 km beach is a popular place for campers and beach lovers. The sandy beach with its mass of driftwood (and logs) is a delight for dogs playing catch in the water. In the winter months, Pacheedaht is good for surfing as well.

Avatar Grove

Avatar Grove and Canada’s gnarliest tree is an amazing thing to see. Dubbed Canada’s Gnarliest’s Tree this mammoth cedar will surely leap from the unknown to the feature of millions of tourist photos in the coming years.

 Avatar Grove is a 50 hectare area of old growth forest that has shot to prominence in this part of the world and groups everywhere are embracing it as something to be saved, admired and loved.  Wooden stairs and a boardwalk have been constructed with a viewing platform at the base of the Gnarly Tree.  Hike along the moss covered forest floor underneath the canopy of the gnarliest trees in Canada.
Click Learn More about Avatar Grove, to see Pictures, Map and Directions.

Big Lonely Doug

Big Lonely Doug is gargantuan, old-growth Douglas-fir tree standing alone in a recent logging clearcut near Port Renfrew.  Lonely Doug is a tree with a trunk as wide as a living room and stands taller than a downtown skyscraper.  Doug’s total size comes in just behind the current champion Douglas-fir, the Red Creek Fir, the world’s largest, which grows just one valley over. 

Located just north of Avatar Grove, both trees can easily be visited in the same day.

San Juan Sitka Spruce

The San Juan Sitka Spruce resides next to a bridge about 20 km up the San Juan River east from Renfrew. This massive building-sized tree is Canada’s largest spruce tree when measured by wood volume (333 cubic meters). You can see the 62.5 meter top of it from the bridge as you cross the river. It is in an area where other large Sitka spruce can be seen poking up like islands in the sea of second growth around them. As you turn left at the end of the bridge and descend down to the San Juan River Bridge Forestry Recreation Site, the full 3.71 meter diameter of the champion spruce comes into view. 
 
The San Juan Spruce is all out of proportion compared to what one normally thinks of as a typical tree. It would take several adults holding hands to circle the 11.6 metre circumference base. 

Red Creek Fir

The largest Douglas fir tree in the world grows only a 45 minute drive from Port Renfrew. The Red Creek Fir measures 43.7 feet in circumference (14 feet in diameter), stretches 242 feet tall, with a crown spread of 75 feet. The tree is truly mammoth in size

and is a must-see for big tree lovers. Along the trail there are also three giant cedars that deserve a good look as well.

The Red Creek fir is recognized as the largest living tree of its species on earth.

After parking in the small pullout, find the route marker on the right hand side of the road. The path is fairly clear and easy to follow; it takes approximately 10 minutes to reach the tree. Be sure to check out the giant red cedars on the path’s left-hand side about

half way up!

Lizard Lake

Another unique feature of Lizard Lake is the large 80 -100 foot boardwalk pier extending out from the shore. From the pier, extended out on the lake, people can fish, swim and launch canoes. Some of the other activities enjoyed at this Port Renfrew lake include hiking, mountain biking, picnicking, sightseeing, wildlife watching, camping and suntanning.

There is a sandy beach on Lizard Lake. There is a small wilderness campsite nearby. Some campsites are drive in sites and some are walk in sites. All include picnic tables and fire pits. There are pit toilets in the park.

Fairy Lake

Fairy Lake Nature Trail is part of a BC Forest Recreation Site and located about 5 km from Port Renfrew . The lake is a sandy beach recreation destination, complete with campsite, located up stream from the mouth of the San Juan River.

The BC Forest Site is a quick get-a-way for many locals and a great find for visitors. Some of the activities enjoyed at the lake include hiking, swimming, camping, canoeing, mountain biking, picnicking, suntanning and fishing.

What is unque about the lake is the lone twisted tree poking out of the lake. In the middle of the lake is a sunken log with one end poking up. Perched on the exposed end of the log is a single dwarfed fir tree poking out of the water.

Wildlife

It’s not unusual to spot black bears in early spring on some of the beaches as well, particularly around China and Mystic Beaches. Bears are unpredictable creatures, especially when they emerge hungry from winter denning. If you see one, back away slowly. Do not leave food or garbage lying around: a fed bear is a dead bear. In April of 2011 the French Girl and I were hiking on the Parkinson Creek trail and came face to face with a bear blocking our way back to the truck. He looked like had just woken up. He didn’t seem too concerned with us but was also in no big hurry to get out of our way. So we backed up along the trail out of his sight and then walked back toward his location making a bit of noise. He was still sitting in the same place when we returned but dashed off into the bush when he saw us a second time.

Read Handsome Dan & The French Girl’s story.

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