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Port Renfrew

You can find Port Renfrew the farthest north you can travel along the southwest hwy. Historical home of the ‘People of the Sea Foam”, also known as Pecheedahy First Nation, their homes remain still in and around the main town centre.

Fast Facts

Population:
Approx. 200

Port Renfrew lies at the northwest side of the scenic Pacific Marine Hwy (Highway 14) on Vancouver Island, just 107 kms northwest of Victoria.

Hiking Trails:

West Coast Trail

Port Renfrew attracts many hikers seeking out the infamous West Coast Trail built in 1907 as a lifeline for shipwrecked sailors. Southern head of the trail can be found along the Gordon River, adjacent to Port Renfrew. The trails goes 77 km alongside west side of Vancouver Islands towards Bamfield in the north.
A convenient shutter service is offered by The Pacheedaht.

Juan de Fuca Trail

Juan de Fuca Marine Trail is a great alternative to the busier West Coast Trail, as it leads southwest for 47 km (30 miles) from Botanical Beach to China Beach. Although shorter, this route leads to marvelous views of wild coastline as you meander between forests and shoreline.

Nearby Attractions

Botanical Beach

Explore the vast tide pools and dynamic intertidal life in at Botanical Beach in Juan de Fuca Provincial Park. The giant San Juan Stika Spruce can be found near the San Juan Bridge Recreation Site. This Stika Spruce tree, having a circumference of 11.6 meters and height of 62.5 meters is the largest exemplar from Canada. The nearby Carmanah Giant is nearly 100 foot taller;l the Sitka Spruce on Brookes Peninsula has a greater circumference, but the San Juan tree contains more sheer wood mass than the others.

Loss Creek Provincial Park:

A grove of Sitka spruce trees can be found in this park. They are proctected in the undeveloped Loss Creek Provincial Park. To find it, just go off the coastal Highway 14, south of the turnoff to Sombrio Beach.

Red Creek Fir: 

To get to this resilient giant, take a brief north drive of Port Renfrew. Having a 41 foot circumference and a height of 421 feet, this tree is a truly massive spectacle. However, despite being so large, at one time it would have been about 320 feet but unfortunately it got snapped by a violent storm and lost its spire.

Old-Growth Tours: 

From resource extraction to ecosystem exploration, diversifying the use of foresland has led to local Old-Growth Tours. Some of the spectacles are San Juan Sitka, Red Creek Fir, and what is known as “World’s Gnarliest Tree”, an ancient Red Cedar that reaches 80 metres tall, having a gargantuan three metre burl closer to its base. You can find more information and local tips at the Port Renfrew Visitor Centre.

Fishing: 

There is abundant Salmon and halibut fishing near Port Renfew.  Cod, bass, and crab are also available for more saltwater savvy enthusiasts. Excellent freshwater fishing for cutthroat, trout and steelhead can be found in the San Juan River.

Camping: 

A campground by Pacheedaht First Nation can be found on San Juan Beach. It is a wide stretch of shoreline strewn with masses of quintessential Pacific northwest driftwood. This is a popular location for hikers to stay overnight here before beginning their long journey.

Lizard Lake 

Lizard lake, now a privately operated site, 18km northeast of Port Renfrew on Harris Creek Main logging road, was once maintained by the BC Forest Service. This site is known for hosting campers from May to September and has a 100-foot boardwalk style pier that extends from the shore out into the lake.

Fairy Lake Recreation Site

 Located north of Port Renfrew on the Harris Creek Mainline logging road. There are many ‘rough’ campsites here and unfortunately no fairies at all. Still, it is a mesmerizing location and a simpler camping locations for those willing to carry the necessary amenities.

The Pacific Marine Circle Tour

 The perfect place if you want to explore the historic West Coast of Vancouver Island. This wilderness route traces nicely the coastline from Victoria through Sooke and Port Renfrew. It continues onto the Cowichan Valley and then looping back down to the Trans-Canada Highway via Duncan to Victoria.

History

Just at the peak of sail travel along the west coast between 1830-1925, many shipping calamities took place along this unpredictable and rugged sea scape. The epicenter of 137 nautical tragedies was the entrance to the Juan de Fuca, giving it the grizzly reputation as the “Graveyard of the Pacific”. The area once called Port of san Juan was re-titled in honor of Lord Renfrew who planned to settle the area.

Named by the Spanish Explorer Manuel Quimper, the name of Port San Juan was given to the inlet where Port Renfrew is located. The mouth of both the Gordon and San Juan River can be found at the mouth of this inlet.

Renfrew offers the archetypal west coast island experience. Wild, rugged and rural community hosts many exploration opportunities for hiking, fishing and camping. This community is sustained by its forestry and angling, as well as by outfitting and guiding tours.  Chartered fishing, camping, information, supplies are available in this community of about 200 residents.