Backcountry campers looking for respite from Vancouver Island’s rugged wilderness have new digs along the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail.
The 47-kilometre South Island trail now has 50 new elevated tent platforms at five backcountry campgrounds, as well as an approximately 600-metre stepped boardwalk, 20 new staircases, 19 new footbridges and new food caches, the B.C. government announced Wednesday.
The project, which marked the biggest single investment to the trail in recent years, cost about $905,000 and adds to the $2.1 million already invested in new bridges, boardwalks, stairs, and food caches in the area over the past four years.
“Camping and outdoor recreation is more popular than ever, which is why we are investing in the infrastructure that will enhance people’s connection with B.C.’s beautiful natural spaces,” said Environment Minister George Heyman in a release.
“The new tent platforms, along with other significant upgrades along the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail in recent years, improve visitors’ experiences while they enjoy this amazing backcountry hike that showcases the beauty and power of B.C.’s coast.”
The platforms were added to the campgrounds at Mystic, Bear and Chin beaches and Little Kuitshe and Payzant creeks. Meanwhile, the new boardwalk, staircases and footbridges are between Little Kuitshe Creek and Parkinson Creek trailhead, as new engineered bridges were also installed at Little Kuitshe and Hoard creeks.
Provincial officials say the trail, which spans part of the Island’s southwest coast, is mainly designed for strenuous day or multi-day hiking and has campsites in rugged areas.
“The trail traverses a rugged environment that is often subject to wet and extreme weather conditions. Before heading out, hikers are advised to check the park website for advisories and be prepared for uneven ground and slippery conditions on muddy trails, wooden surfaces, boulders and rocky shorelines,” states the release.
The stretch between Little Kuitshe Creek campground and Parkinson Creek trailhead remains closed due to infrastructure upgrades but is expected to reopen on May 17.
BC Parks has approximately 2,000 walk-in or backcountry campsites and 6,000 kilometres of hiking trails, and the government says it’s investing $21.5 million to enhance outdoor recreation across the province.