Juan de Fuca Provincial Park and Port Renfrew

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Sunday, October 15, 2017

Martha said I got to choose what we do today. I wanted to go back to Port Renfrew where we saw people lined up on a bridge over the Gordon River. There was nowhere to park the trailer, so we couldn’t stop, but I knew there was a big salmon run. It’s only 41 miles. I knew it was a long, curvy, bouncy trip with the trailer, but thought it would be faster with just the truck. I was wrong. It’s an hour and a half trip if you don’t stop. The Road to Hana in Hawaii has nothing on this winding road, but it’s worth it.

We stopped at French Beach Provincial Park and walked down. there is a beautiful picnic area, a playground and benches along to edge of the beach. It’s a round rock beach where the waves roll the rocks back and forth, a very cool sound.

Driving on, we came to a very cool spot, Jordan River, where surfers and paddle boarders worked some small waves. A fire kept onlookers warm, but it was a nice day by now. A coffee shop sits on the other side of the road, and a small campground sits right next to the water.

We stopped at China Beach, where the Juan de Fuca Trail begins. It goes for 47km along the coast next to Juan de Fuca Straight. We hiked it for two hours to Mystic Beach and back. Of course nothing can go in a straight line on this rugged, beautiful coast, and neither does the trail. It winds up and down hills in this section, and you have to be vigilantly watching roots that go everywhere. Martha slipped on one and took a fall. It could have been nasty, but she was OK. It was Sunday and there were a lot of people on the trail, and everyone had at least one dog. One young lady was running the trail with her music plugged into her ears. I don’t know how you would run this trail! It’s cool though. You can camp along the trail or on one of the beaches.

We thought about hiking another section, but decided against it. It was a beautiful, warm day when we arrived at the Gordon River Bridge, but chilly winds blew off the ocean and up the river. This is the look of British Columbia I love. A big river surrounded by mountains thickly covered in pine trees. It still appears wild and free. There was only one fisherman on the bridge. We gazed into the water and saw four, big salmon moving upriver. It certainly wasn’t a big salmon run like there must have been on our trip down. Maybe the tide has to be right. Another fisherman worked form a kayak in the middle of the river, while a couple sat under an umbrella, soaking up the sun.

We drove into town, now hungry for lunch. Two places were closed for the season, but we stopped at The Renfrew Pub, not knowing what to expect. Motorcycles, trucks and sports cars were parked in the lot. It has to be a great trip for motorcycles. It was busy with people out for a Sunday spin on a pretty day, maybe the last for the next spell. I ordered a salmon burger and fries, and Martha had seafood chowder and fish tacos. It was all very good with good service. We walked out back of the pub and down the dock. Martha posed next to a beautiful Indian Motorcycle. There were the cutest tiny cottages right on the dock with great views and gas fires to keep you warm. I asked Martha if she wanted to stay the night, but she declined. Looking into the water, there were thousands of small fish, sardines I suspect. On the other side, we saw two large crabs. It looks like a healthy, beautiful environment.


Just north of Port Renfrew is the end of Juan de Fuca Trail at Botanical Beach. We walked down to the beautiful, rocky beach at low tide where a small forest grows on a rock. Then we got back on the road for the long drive back. Well, it’s not a long drive, but it takes a long time.

  6 comments for “Juan de Fuca Provincial Park and Port Renfrew

  1. October 17, 2017 at 4:05 pm

    you covered a lot of ground, was this all in one day? I live in the Cowichan Valley and wondered what route you took on your trip down if you went to French Beach before you got to Port Renfrew..

    • October 18, 2017 at 10:43 am

      Hi Vicki,
      Thanks so much for reading. On this day we were staying in Pedder Bay RV Park and Marina near Sooke. We were driving north to Port Renfrew, making stops along the way. We came to Vancouver Island and landed in Nanaimo. We enjoyed that for a few days, then headed over to Pacific Rim, which we loved. Then back over through Nanaimo and took 18 over to Cowichan River Provincial Park, which we also loved. Then over the mountains through Port Renfrew and down to Pedder Bay. We felt like we had missed so much, we made a day trip back north. You live in a beautiful place in Cowichan Valley. Thank you for your comment. Please make any more contributions about this beautiful Island.

      All the best,

      • October 18, 2017 at 10:50 am

        thanks for your reply.. that is indeed a lot of ground. That road to Port Renfrew from Lake Cowichan is very windy, wouldn’t have been much fun pulling a trailer that’s for sure. I’m glad you went back to French Beach and the other beaches. We have lived here for 6 years and still haven’t done the hike to China Beach..

      • October 18, 2017 at 3:18 pm

        I thought about another spot you would enjoy if you are still in the Sooke area.. that is Whiffen Spit which is located just outside of Sooke, heading west turn left on Whiffen Spit Road and go through the residential area down to the parking lot at the end of the road. Whiffen Spit is a narrow piece of land that juts out for a good walk. The Strait of Juan De Fuca is on the right and the Sooke inlet is on the left. It’s an interesting walk and if you go all the way there is a lighthouse at the end. The scenery is lovely.

      • October 18, 2017 at 9:18 pm

        That is so nice! Thank you so much for that great recommendation! We will do our best to get there. We are now in Victoria and had a great rainy day at the outstanding Royal BC Museum. We are due to leave Sunday with rain forecast every day, but we will make every effort to get there. Thank you so much Vicki!

  2. October 18, 2017 at 10:58 am

    There is so much to see here! We are retired, so we have the time and desire to travel and see. We will be in Victoria for a rainy week, but we had a beautiful day in Butchart Gardens yesterday. There are so many things we have missed, and the whole north part of this beautiful island. I hope we get a chance to return and spend more time. I love Canada. I love British Columbia, and I love Vancouver Island!

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