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Mystic Beach

Juan de Fuca Marine Trail

July 2nd, 2005

2.5 miles
540 vertical feet
Total Time: 2:57

Rating: 7/10

Directions: From Victoria, take Highway 1 to Highway 14 towards Sooke. Drive about 35 kilometers past Sooke. You'll pass the China Beach campground; one kilometer later, turn left at the sign for China Beach day-use. Then immediately turn right into the first parking lot.   View Driving Map


While it was sunny at Point No Point, it was still a bit cloudy when we arrived at the trailhead just a few kilometers north. There's a day use parking fee at the large gravel lot, $5 if I recall.

The trail to Mystic Beach is also the start (or end) of the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail, the lesser-known cousin of the West Coast Trail, which starts just north of the Juan de Fuca trail. We were only heading out for a day hike, but you can head out on the trail for an overnighter, or a multi-day backpacking trip.

The trail immediately enters a lush forest filled with ferns. At times it is reminiscent of the Hoh Rain Forest in Olympic National Park. The trail is moderately hard to follow in places if you don't know what to look for. The simplest thing to do is look for the color green. If you don't see it, then that's where the trail is. Everywhere else, there's green tree leaves, fern leaves, and moss growing.

Forest slug

The trail starts out on a gradual descent; in fact, there is actually a bit of uphill in the first kilometer. There are tree roots everywhere along the trail. Mud can be a problem depending on the recent weather. It was a bit muddy in places when we went, but nothing we couldn't walk around or just walk through.

Hiking down the forested trail

Nearing the first kilometer sign, we crossed a metal suspension bridge high over Peter Wolfe Creek. It's probably pretty safe with several people on it, but it bounces a lot less if you cross it one person at a time. So if anyone in your group is scared of heights (like I am), you might consider that.

Crossing the bridge over Pete Wolfe Creek

After crossing the bridge, we reached the 1 kilometer sign. The trail then starts to descend more steeply. Near the bottom, the trail is so steep that it consists of a series of staircases. One of the first staircases is carved right out of a giant fallen tree. The tree is actually longer than the staircase, and is an impressive sight.

After the log staircase, there's a lot more steps, some of which seem to have been designed for people with very long legs. I was glad to have my trekking poles here, especially since this section was very muddy.

We encountered a lot of people on the trail, and there were even more people at Mystic Beach when we reached it around 1pm. We could see several tents set up on the beach near the forest we'd just emerged from. People milled about all along the large beach. To the right are rocks and some small alcoves. To the left are some other alcoves, as well as a small waterfall. The waterfall isn't very impressive -- more like water sprinkling over the edge than a waterfall. I found the alcoves there more interesting -- they are filled with moss or algae growing like stalactites on the tops of the alcoves, most of which are only about 5 to 8 feet high.

Reaching for the alcove ceiling

Mossy alcove

Mossy alcove

Moss

Water drops on moss

The sun finally came out, and we enjoyed it while we rested at the beach for about an hour. Eventually we packed up and headed back up the trail the same way we'd come down. For some reason, the trip back up seemed much easier; in fact, it took us less time to get back up than to come down. Part of that may be that you have to take care coming down because of all the roots all over the trail. Whatever the reason, in no time at all, we were back at the parking lot, which was now full.

Log staircase

Ferns and forest


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