We are located in the San Juan Estuary were Roosevelt Elk, Black Bears and Black Tail Deer frequent our area. Port Renfrew has many local attractions for those who enjoy the great outdoors. From tide pools full of sea creatures to hiking, to kayaking and swimming, you’ll have no problem finding a reason to take in a full day of fresh mountain air.
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The Botanical Beach parking lot is the western terminus of the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail, located at Kilometer 47. This parking lot provides access to nearby Botany Bay and Botanical Beach itself. Botanical Beach affords visitors with access to uniquely rich tide pools and shoreline trails with fantastic geological features. The extensive variety of marine flora and fauna in this colourful intertidal zone includes red, purple and orange starfish and sea urchins, white gooseneck barnacles, blue mussels and green sea anemones and sea cucumbers. Coralline algae, periwinkles, chitons and sea stars can also be seen at Botanical Beach. The region is so biologically significant that the University of Minnesota installed the first marine research station in the Pacific Northwest at Botanical Beach in 1901. Since then, the area has been used for research by a number of universities in BC and Washington. A low tide of 1.2 meters or less is best for viewing these tide pools (Port Renfrew tides). Impact of human activity on the intertidal area is of growing concern. When visiting Botanical Beach, please look in the tide pools only – do not touch the marine life. Do not remove, collect or disturb any tide pool life, shells, plants, flowers, kelp, etc. – they are all part of a vulnerable ecosystem that Botanical Beach was established to protect. Even touching the water in a tide pool with sunscreen on your hands can create an “oil slick” that could kill the vulnerable creatures in this sensitive ecosystem. Photographs make great souvenirs. The Botanical Beach day-use area offers parking, pit toilets, visitor information and picnic areas. While hiking on the trail, cars can be left overnight in the Botanical Beach parking lot. Please do not leave anything of value in your vehicle.
This hiking area stretches along 47 kilometres of wild and beautiful rainforest coastline, cradled between Port Renfrew at the west end and Jordan River at the east end. West Coast rainforests with giant cedars and beautiful white sand beaches are two of the many features one will encounter as the unforgettable experience of hiking this trail begins to take hold.
Red Creek Fir
The San Juan and Gordon Rivers converge at the foot of Port San Grey whole in estuary (II. Chester) Juan bay. The proximity to the Pacific and local high relief results in a mild and wet maritime climate. This has created ideal conditions for vegetation to grow and the result, after millennia, is that the San Juan Valley has deep rich soils. The presence of the giant Red Creek Fir is a testament to these superb growing conditions. Said to be Canada’s largest standing Fir Tree, the Red Creek fir is estimated to be 750 years to 1,000 years old. Stats: Height – 73.8 m (242’) Circumference -12.55 m (41’2”) Crown – 22.9 m (75’) Located 2.5 km outside of Port Renfrew, the Red Creek fir is accessible by four wheel drive only.
Located at approximately Kilometer 29 of the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail, the large cobbled Sombrio Beach can be reached via a 250-meter access trail from the Sombrio Beach Trailhead parking lot, off Hwy 14. There are two designated wilderness camping areas at Sombrio Beach; one at East Sombrio and one at West Sombrio. Visitors can explore or hike east or west along the beach, enjoy a picnic or try their hand at surfing in this world-class surfing area. Sombrio Beach is part of the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail, so please respect trail hikers. Parkinson Creek is approximately 9 km west of Sombrio Beach; the nearest trailhead to the east is the Juan de Fuca East (China Beach) Trailhead at Kilometer 0.
Surfing, kayaking and canoeing
Port Renfrew is located in San Juan Harbour, home to two surf breaks, both breaking at the rivermouths along the beaches to the north-west of town. When the big south-west swells arrive, these can deliver some excellent waves … but a good wetsuit is required, year-round! While not common, windsurfing can also be done in the Harbour … summer is consistently windy in the afternoons. The San Juan and Gordon Rivers offer miles and miles of kayaking and canoeing … including some white water kayaking for the adventurers. Contact Trailhead Resort or Edge of The World Tours for more information on kayaking opportunities.
Fairy Lake and Lizard Lake are two nearby swimming lakes, approximately 5km and 10km from Port Renfrew along the Gordon Main Road (towards Lake Cowichan). When the summer fog rolls in and the beach is chilly, it is not uncommon to find after the short run inland it is 10-15 degrees (Celsius) warmer … beach weather! Locals and visitors alike enjoy the summer swimming. And yes, you can even search for lizards in Lizard Lake! (actually red bellied newts)
West Coast Trail
The West Coast Trail is an internationally acclaimed hiking trail that retraces an old telegraph route that once connected Victoria with Cape Beale near Bamfield. Once used as a safety route for survivors of coastal shipwrecks, the trail takes the hiker along the wild and remote west coast of Vancouver Island through cedar, hemlock and spruce forests, along cliffs, beaches and sandstone ledges and over suspension bridges spanning rivers and flowing streams. Visit www.pc.gc.ca/pacificrim for more info, or phone 250-647-5434 (local office, seasonal) or 250-726-3500 (year-round). We are located only 200 metres away from the trail head.