Juan De Fuca Trail vs West Coast Trail

Hiking the juan de fuca marine trail versus the west coast trail british columbia canada Juan de Fuca Trail vs West Coast Trail

 

About the Juan de Fuca Trail:

The Juan de Fuca Trail is a 47 km hike along the west coast of Vancouver Island in beautiful British Columbia, Canada. Its northern point lies at Botanical Beach at Port Renfrew and its southern point lies at China Beach near the community of Jordan River.

The Juan de Fuca Marine Trail lies south of the famous West Coast Trail, but does not directly connect to it.

You can start at either the north-end or the south-end of the trail. We chose to start at the northern point near Port Renfrew and and head south to make it a shorter drive for our ride home arrangements.

Hiking the Juan de Fuca Trail offers beautiful west-coast scenery, amazing hiking (that is moderately to difficult) , and wildlife viewing in their natural habitat. It is an isolated area, which offers multi-day hiking and some day hike options. It was created through the Commonweath Nature Legacy as a reminder of the 1994 Commonwealth Games held in Victoria.

You can find out more information about the Juan de Fuca Trail on BC Parks website here.

Juan-de-fuca-trail-map

Juan de Fuca Trail vs West Coast Trail

5 Reasons why we chose the lesser-known Juan de Fuca Marine Trail:

 

Beautiful Forest and Ocean Scenery throughout the trail

Beautiful Forest and Ocean Scenery throughout the trail

  1. The Juan de Fuca trail is MUCH cheaper than the West Coast Trail. The Fees are $5.00 per night based on self-registration (as of 2016 and is subject to change. Check the BC Parks site for current information). To pay, you simply deposit your cash in an envelope and put it into a lock box at the trailhead. A 5 day hike on the Juan de Fuca trail will costs you $25.00. However, the West Coast trail costs $127.50 per person for a 5-7 day hike, plus $24.50 to make a reservation to guarantee your start date (there are limits on the number of hikers who can start per day)

 

Day One: Still Smiling

Day One: Still Smiling

  1. The Juan de Fuca trail is available to hike anytime (in season). The West Coast Trail suggests making a reservation to ensure your start date due to daily limits at the trail heads. Upon arrival, the West Coast Trail has an orientation that is required before you enter the trail.
the Trail travels along the beaches, sometimes river rock, sometimes boulders, sometimes sand.

the Trail travels along the beaches, sometimes river rock, sometimes boulders, sometimes sand.

  1. While not recommended, dogs are permitted on the Juan de Fuca trail. On the West Coast Trail they are not allowed (one exception has been made for a visually impared hiker). We love hiking with our dogs (and YES they pack their own food and water) and the Juan de Fuca trail hike allowed us to bring them along!
    the Suspension Bridge on the Trail

    the Suspension Bridge on the Trail

Juan-de-Fuca-Trail-Suspension-Bridge

The Dogs did not like the suspension bridge

 

  1. The Juan de Fuca trail offers similar breathtaking scenery of the West Coast of Vancouver Island but has less hikers. On our 4 day hike we passed by one to two groups per day (who were heading in the opposite direction) and 3 out of the 4 nights there were no other hikers at the campsites.
The Beach with the "Fog Zone" in the distance.

The Beach with the “Fog Zone” in the distance.

  1. Juan de Fuca trail offers a shorter hike at 47km, compared to the 75km West Coast Trail. We chose a 4 day hike versus a 5-7 day on the West Coast Trail. The 47 Km hike still offers an amazing backcountry experience, plenty of tough terrain and some amazing beaches to experience.

 

 

Tips for Hiking the Juan de Fuca Trail:

 

Hiking conditions are always changing and it is recommended to check the conditions at the trail head information shelters. Please visit the BC Parks website by clicking here for more information about the trail.

Checking out the Beach in the early morning

Checking out the Beach in the early morning

Be prepared for slippery conditions, muddy trails, wooden boardwalks, boulders, rocky shorlines, damaged structures, steep slopes and rapidly changing weather conditions. The Juan de Fuca trail lies in the “Fog Zone” and while it may be a sunny, and hot day on other parts of the island, the temperature is much cooler on the trail.

If you have never heard of gaiters, I highly suggest you buy them. Your dry feet will thank me later! And work in those hiking boots! I will not post my blistered feet to show you what happens if you do not!

the Fog Zone - it was amazing to watch it roll in and out

the Fog Zone – it was amazing to watch it roll in and out

What you pack in, pack it out. When we did the trail there was a fire ban on the entire coast of British Columbia. Even the “Fog Zone” which is often excluded due to its damp conditions. All of our garbage stayed with us until the end of the trip. We are all responsible for keeping the beauty of these places.

The dogs packed their own food and water, they took advantage of our "rest-breaks" too!

The dogs packed their own food and water, they took advantage of our “rest-breaks” too!

If you are newer to hiking, pack your bags and then repack! Scrutinize every item and make sure you need to pack it, after the first day you may wish you packed lighter! Consider ultra-lite hiking gear rather than typical camping equipment.

For the reason I mentioned above, I highly recommend you consider dehydrated food! It’s light and tastes amazing after a day’s hike (it may not be amazing cooking it at home for dinner, but when you have been traipsing through mud, sandy beaches, over rocks and up and down switchbacks, a nice HOT meal is exactly what we needed!). The bonus is that all you need is some boiling water and you have dinner!

Beautiful Scenery that so few get to witness

Beautiful Scenery that so few get to witness

We took an advil or two before bed every night, our muscles didn’t feel too sore at nighttime but they sure were sore in the morning!

Pack second skin for blisters! It is by far the best blister relief I have ever come across and it is WORTH EVERY PENNY!

juan-de-fuca-marine-trail-giant-trees-carpe-diem-our-way

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The Juan de Fuca Marine Trail vs The West Coast Trail, British Columbia, Canada Carpe Diem OUR Way

Lindsay is the Editor and Head Writer of Carpe Diem OUR Way. She wears many hats including mom, wife, freelancer, GM for a manufacturing company and soccer player. Lindsay is spontaneous, loves travel, photography and very recently discovered she loves to write.

14 thoughts on “Juan De Fuca Trail vs West Coast Trail

  1. Alice Teacake

    Oooh good advice on the advil! I hike a lot but have never thought to do this (?!). I try not to take medicine if I can help it but some hiking routes really do kick my butt ><

  2. Sue Reddel

    Great tips on how to decide which hiking trail the Juan De Fuca Trail or the West Coast Trail. I give you ladies a lot of credit. I’ll live vicariously through you on this trip. The dogs have to carry their own supplies? Hope they enjoyed it as much as you did.

  3. noel

    What beautiful trail, I would to do that one day, it’s been too long since I’ve visited in British Columbia, it’s so green.

  4. Wandering Carol

    They both sound fabulous, but I think you made the right choice. I wish I had the Reese-Witherspoon-in-Wild guts to do a long hike, but I’m not there yet. I did, however, cycle around the lakes in Whistler, BC, today. Spectacular.

  5. Stacey Valle

    I have to say that your hiking adventure reminds me of the novel/film, Wild! I just saw that movie, so I had to say that, haha. I only had done a day hike, but I never done more than just a day hike! It’s something that I don’t mind doing soon :)

    Would you go back to Juan De Fuca Trail ?

  6. Pingback: Preparation for the West Coast Trail - See Her Travel

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