Juan de Fuca Trail

Sierra Club BC 50 Places Project

The Juan de Fuca Marine Trail is a scenic, rugged 47-kilometre trail that runs from Mystic Beach to Botanical Beach on southwest Vancouver Island. Botanical Beach is well-known for tide pools rich in marine life. Juan de Fuca Provincial Park contains waterfalls, grottos, estuaries, salmon streams, and habitat for cougars and bears. Whales, seals and sea lions can often be spotted offshore.

The trail and park are located in Pacheedaht territory. The Pacheedaht people have occupied and stewarded this area since time immemorial, moving between different village sites through the year based on seasonally abundant resources. According to the Nation, there are three historical village sites within the area of the trail. These include a fishing and seafood gathering village known as Qwa:qtłis located at the mouth of Sombrio River, a village called Tł’ehib at Boulder Beach (between Mystic Beach and Bear Beach), and a winter village and defensive site known as łi:xwa:p on top of a bluff at Botanical Beach.

Pacheedaht territory contains spectacular old-growth cedars, a resource very important to the Nation in revitalizing and sustaining their cultural practices. They’ve developed the Pacheedaht Cedar Conservation Strategy to manage this resource with the goal of ensuring a long term supply of red cedar, which requires 400 years to grow to a size useable for ocean-going canoes and totem poles.

Construction and maintenance of the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail has been made possible through the efforts of the Pacheedaht Nation, government, industry and local residents. At one time, the trail was part of a lifesaving trail to rescue shipwrecked survivors. Beginning in 1973, the Sierra Club BC Victoria Local Group began promoting protection of the area, known at the time as the West Coast Strip, as a wilderness corridor.

When Botanical Beach was put up for sale in 1982, Sierra Club BC and the Nature Conservancy successfully advocated for the area to be purchased and managed by BC Parks. Sierra Club BC continued for many years to campaign for protection of other parts of the trail. Finally, in 1996, the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail was established by the Capital Regional District.

In 2011, a new proposal emerged for a resort development of 460 structures immediately beside the trail. Hundreds of Sierra Club BC supporters and a large number of local residents spoke out with strong objections to the plan. In response to the wide and organized opposition, the Capital Regional District voted not to approve the development and changed its practices for decision making to ensure that future projects fit with its Regional Growth Strategy.

50 Places, 50 Stories

Sierra Club BC’s 50 Places Project celebrates stories of conservation across BC. As Sierra Club BC marks 50 years of conservation work, we raise our hands to the longstanding Indigenous stewards of 50 special places in BC. 

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