As summer gave way to fall, we found ourselves taking advantage of the glorious weather for a mini-camping tour on Southern Vancouver Island. While work took us to Victoria, the only campground open after labour day was back at Sidney (McDonald campground at Gulf Islands National Park): apparently the CRD cannot afford to keep regional campgrounds open during what is arguably the best season for camping…
Nonetheless, we were able to visit with family in Saanich and then started our island “tour” with a visit to Flying Fish Winery (to process our Okanagan fruit into cider).
Following the Pacific Marine Circle Route, we passed familiar places such as Sooke, French Beach, Point No Point, and China Beach while enjoying fantastic views of Washington’s Olympic Peninsula across the strait. Even mid-week of the last week of September, we found the beach campsite at Jordan River full. So, we carried on to new territory to Port Renfrew. While Port Renfrew is a terminus for the famous West Coast Trail, it is also an ideal base to explore these outer reaches of a wild and rugged coast.
Beach camping at Port Renfrew
We spent a day exploring the area by cycling and hiking to and around Juan de Fuca Provincial Park. While not great distances (~20 km bike; ~ 5 km hiking), both the road and trails were very hilly, with picking our way along the rocky shores of Botanical Beach and Botany Bay constituting most of our explore.
…and we got to see this little guy enjoying the warm sun on the beach…
Another day took us to Avatar Grove, involving driving about 9 km on a very rough road, then hiking up and down amongst the tall trees.
…and the official “gnarliest” tree in Canada!
The last part of the loop took us through a recently paved logging road inland past the numerous clear cuts of the past, into beautiful Cowichan Lake and camping at the Cowichan River Provincial Park before hopping over to Salt Spring Island on the tiny Crofton-Vesuvius ferry.