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Hiking through History
 

Port Renfrew and
The San Juan Valley


The San Juan Valley, created long ago by a geological fault, reaches 35 kms inland and is 2.5 kms at its widest point. Dominated by a wet and mild climate, it host one of the highest bio-mass growing forests in the world - covering the entire valley!


The species of trees and ground vegetation in the valley will vary from place to place as a result of adaptation to the diversities of local conditions in light, temperature and soils. For example, the Sitka spruce, tolerant of salt spray, edges the coastline. The spruce also requires a porous and moist soil, and is prevalent along the flood plains of creeks and rivers. Blanketing the upper mountainous areas, are the shade tolerant, cedar-hemlock forests. The Douglas fir sporadically covers all forest areas, though are dependent upon fire as well as silviculture to regenerate. On the other hand, the deciduous forest requires moist, loamy soils found along river sides and streams. While exploring the trails you will see these different forest communities, which combined, make up the Coastal Western Hemlock Biogeoclimatic Zone.


  Coastal Western Hemlock Biogeoclimatic Zone

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A Brief History of Settlement along the West Coast of Vancouver Island

The history of settlement along the coast of Vancouver Island dates back thousands of years. A substantial supply of food offered by the Pacific Ocean attracted native people who populated the area and divided its land into territories of independent tribes. Depending greatly on the resources of the forest, these people never ceased to skillfully craft hunting and fishing materials, ocean-going canoes, tools, clothing, shelter and other items of necessity from almost every part of the tree species.

The 1800's

In the late 1800's settlers from Europe and Asia came to the San Juan Valley on the prospects of farming and began to clear the land. From this, other opportunities arose such as logging, fishing and mining. But many struggles still existed, including remoteness from market, that capped their success and their wealth.

The 1900's

In the early 1900's, the valley's logging industry took hold when entrepreneurs and investors became interested and ambitious in the vast forests of the west. This brought new methods and technologies in logging along with progressive employment and a rise in population. This economic resource became the valley's success story.



A myriad of lakes, rivers and streams fed by the successive mountain ranges and narrow valleys create impressive water sheds in the region. Along the trails you can enjoy the shores of these lakes, rivers and streams where Sand bars and waterfalls form.

With concerns for integrated management and environmental sensitivity, the challenges of forest planning are very complex. While exploring these forests and reflecting on the pioneers of almost a century ago, may you gain a better understanding of its cultural heritage its unique beauty and the challenges faced in managing this natural resource.


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