Pacific Marine Circle Route

Pacific Marine Circle Route

Pacific Marine Route CompletedIn June of 2009 the British Columbia Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure finished upgrading the 55-kilometer highway from Mesachie Lake on Lake Cowichan to Port Renfrew. The road is now fully paved and easy to drive in any car yearround. The tourism promotion people have dubbed the 255-kilometer roundrip from Victoria to Duncan, Lake Cowichan, Mesachie Lake, Port Renfrew, Sooke, and back to Victoria the Pacific Marine Circle Route. It can be done in a day or overnight with a stop at Lake Cowichan, Port Renfrew, or Sooke.

Highway between Mesachie Lake and Port RenfrewHighlights of the new stretch of road are a gigantic spruce tree clearly signposted 29 kilometers out of Mesachie Lake, a bridge over the Harris Creek Canyon at kilometer 33, and Lizard Lake (good swimming in summer) at kilometer 37. Keep an eye out for logging trucks and pull over as far as you can when they pass. Most bridges on the road are one way and it's necessary to slow down and give others the right of way. Traffic is thin so this is no problem.

Mystic Beach, Juan de Fuca Provincial ParkPort Renfrew is the starting point of two spectacular coastal trails, the 77-kilometer West Coast Trail west to Bamfield and the 47-kilometer Juan de Fuca Marine Trail east to China Beach. Even if you're not a marathon hiker, it's worth making the short sidetrip from Port Renfrew to Botanical Beach in Juan de Fuca Provincial Park to see the rugged coastline and tidal pools. Another agreeable short hike in the park is to Mystic Beach from the China Beach parking lot, 36 kilometers east of Port Renfrew.

Salamander, Lizard Lake San Juan Bay, Port Renfrew Chiton, Botanical Beach

A salamander captured by children at Lizard Lake Recreation Area.

Looking across San Juan Bay to the West Coast Trail from Port Renfrew.

Chiton in a tidal pool, Botanical Beach, Juan de Fuca Provincial Park.

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