Avatar Grove on Vancouver Island is a mystical realm where ancient giants dwell. In fact, “Canada’s Gnarliest Tree” stands here as a testament to nature’s grandeur.
Our guide reveals Avatar Grove’s mysteries, showing towering cedars, and lush trails. Read on for an immersive journey through the awe-inspiring Avatar Grove!
- What is Avatar Grove in Vancouver Island?
- Why is Avatar Grove closed?
- Best Time to Go
- Things to Know
- How to Get to Avatar Grove in Vancouver Island
- Where to Stay near Avatar Grove
- Where to Eat near Avatar Grove
- What to Do in Avatar Grove
- Apps to Download for a Trip to Avatar Grove
What is Avatar Grove in Vancouver Island?
Avatar Grove, near Port Renfrew on Vancouver Island, houses the iconic “Big Lonely Doug”, and represents vanishing old-growth forests. Urgent conservation actions are crucial to protect this vital habitat, emphasizing its ecological significance.
The grove draws visitors eager to witness and preserve the centuries-old giants, spotlighting the need for ongoing conservation efforts.
In 2009, Ancient Forest Alliance, a local eco crew, put Avatar Grove on the map for everyone. They made sure no one could chop down the trees by labeling them as a no-logging zone in February 2012.
This forest is a haven for massive Douglas Fir and Western Red Cedar trees – some of the biggest in the world.
The Ancient Forest Alliance group is pushing for laws to safeguard all of BC’s old-growth forests. If you’re on board with that, there’s an online petition you can sign to help protect the trees and the jobs in forestry.
Why is Avatar Grove closed?
As of July 2023, Avatar Grove trails are closed for safety and environmental upgrades by Recreation Sites & Trails BC.
Despite limited progress on trail repairs, you can unofficially access it. Many visitors continue exploring Avatar Grove despite the ongoing closure.
Best Time to Go
The best time to visit Avatar Grove on Vancouver Island is from June to September, when the weather is warmer and the skies are clearer.
Things to Know
- There is no cell service around these parts. But, thanks to the Ancient Forest Alliance, they’ve got your back with a map that’s like a GPS on paper, complete with turn-by-turn directions.
- If you’ve got a high clearance vehicle, you’re in luck – it’ll make navigating the unpave logging roads with serious potholes a breeze.
- Keep your eyes peeled because now and then, you’ll need to make a quick pit stop for industrial trucks hauling logs.
- If you opt for the Upper Grove, you’ll cover a distance of 500m, conquering an elevation gain of 80m. On the flip side, the Lower Grove spans 650m with a more gradual elevation gain of 25m.
- If you’re aiming for the Big Lonely Doug, you’ve got two routes to choose from: the Upper Avatar Grove and the Lower Avatar Grove. The Upper one’s a bit more challenging, but don’t worry, it’s not crazy tough.
How to Get to Avatar Grove in Vancouver Island
To reach Avatar Grove, cruise along West Coast Hwy #14 until you hit Port Renfrew. Hang a right onto Deering Road, and get ready to roll over a lengthy one-lane bridge spanning the San Juan River.
Keep to your left, and about 2.7 kilometers later, you’ll spot the red West Coast Trail hiker registration building on your left. Roll on for another 3.9 kilometers, veer left, and cross yet another substantial one-lane bridge over the San Juan River.
At 4.3 kilometers, take a left at the T junction after the bridge, passing the turnoff to Pasheeda Shores on your left. Beyond the turnoff to Port Renfrew Marina, make a left at the Braden Main sign.
Cross a third hefty one-lane bridge over Gordon River, veer right, and catch sight of the little white 42km sign. Zip over the small bridge, and snag a spot to park on your right – you’ve arrived at Avatar Grove!
Where to Stay near Avatar Grove
Address: #236-6596 Baird Rd., Port Renfrew, BC, Canada, British Columbia
Phone: +1 250-893-1859
Bjørn Holm totally rocks that West Coast vibe with its chill vibes and how close it is to nature. Step inside, and you’ll find handcrafted furniture, unique artwork, and custom wood pieces.
It’s like your cozy getaway, welcoming you with this adorable cottage that has killer mountain and ocean views. Plus, you can kick back and watch boats, kayaks, and sea critters doing their thing.
Wild Coast Chalets
Address: 6574 Baird Road, V0S 1K0 Port Renfrew, Canada
If you’re all about that beach life, The Wild Coast Chalets is the spot to grab. Staying here means you’ve got direct access to the sandy shores. The cottages are decked out with a fully-equipped kitchen and BBQ setup.
And let us tell you, the location is primo – near town, trails, and boasting a killer deck complete with a table, chairs, a propane fire pit, and an epic view of the water.
Avatar by Eagle Reach Properties
Address: Eagle Reach, 6596 Baird Road, Port Renfrew, BC, V0S 1K0
Phone: +1 778 926 2974
This beachfront property is close to all the attractions and restaurants at Port Renfrew. The best thing in booking this property is the balcony where you’re literally feet away from Port Renfrew’s inlet.
Staying here is quite convenient, as apart from the endless in-house facilities like the fully-equipped kitchen, spacious living areas, and comfortable bedrooms, you’re also just 20 minutes away from Avatar Grove.
Port Renfrew Oceanfront Retreat
Address: Baird Rd, Port Renfrew, BC V0S 1K0, Canada
If you’re eyeing another spot right by the ocean, check out the Port Renfrew Oceanfront Retreat. This place hooks you up with easy access to loads of outdoor adventures like fishing, hiking, and mountain biking.
The house itself is a real gem, boasting seven skylights inside and a roomy, modern deck that serves up views of the ocean and ancient towering trees.
Address: 6596 Baird Road , Port Renfrew, Canada
Email: [email protected]
Check out Halibut Hideaway – a seaside cottage with a killer deck and ocean views, just a skip away from the marina and restaurant. Bonus: it’s got a fully-loaded kitchen!
Plus, there’s cool stuff like a fire table for BBQ hangouts, along with free wifi and cable to make your stay even better.
Where to Eat near Avatar Grove
The Renfrew Pub
Address: 17310 Parkinson Rd, Port Renfrew, BC V0S 1K0, Canada
Hang out at this snug pub smack dab in the rainforest. They dish out all your fave comfort grub – burgers, poutine, salads, soups, fish and chips, you name it.
And let us tell you, their seafood chowder lives up to the “famous” tag. It’s seriously amazing – do yourself a favor and at least get it as a side.
Tomi’s Home Style Cooking
Address: Part 2, 17152 Parkinson Rd, Port Renfrew, BC V0S 1K0, Canada
Phone: +1 250-412-6099
Home-cooking is what it’s at here at Tomi’s Home Style Cooking. Yeah, it might be in the middle of nowhere, but when it comes to breakfast, this spot takes the cake.
Even though it’s small with a not-so-extensive menu, you’re in for a treat with a hearty breakfast spread: eggs, toast, meat, and crispy fried potatoes. And don’t forget a steaming hot cup of joe or tea!
Bridgemans West Coast Eatery
Address: 17110 Parkinson Rd, Port Renfrew, BC V0S 1K0, Canada
Phone: +1 250-412-6121
Bridgemans West Coast Eatery is dishing out that West Coast goodness in a spot with killer views. Aim for an outdoor seat to soak in the scenery while you dig into your meal.
Here’s the lowdown: go for the smoked salmon board and charcuterie board. They’re big on portions and huge on flavor. And if you’re into fish ‘n chips, theirs is top-notch, especially with that delish tartar sauce.
Coastal Kitchen Cafe
Address: 17245 Parkinson Rd, Port Renfrew, BC V0S 1K0, Canada
Phone: +1 250-647-5545
This sunlit joint is the ultimate breakfast haven. They’re rocking a stellar lineup of classics – think French toast, oats, baked goodies, and a seriously hearty Logger’s Breakfast (our personal fave).
And let’s talk serious business – their coffee and baking game is on point. Don’t miss out on the warm, gooey goodness of the cinnamon buns and the delightful raspberry white chocolate muffins.
What to Do in Avatar Grove
Hike the Avatar Grove Nature Trail
Address: Gordon River Rd, Port Renfrew, BC, Canada
The Avatar Grove Nature Trail winds its way through the rugged hillside, where slippery roots and stunning scenery await. The well-trodden trails have seen some wear and tear, but there are plans in motion to repair stairs and walkways.
Despite the short hikes, the experience transports you to a world centuries past, surrounded by the grandeur of Douglas Firs and Red Cedars.
Check out the Big Lonely Doug
Address: Avatar Grove Trails, BC, Canada
For the optimal view of the towering 66-meter tall Douglas Fir, head to the logging road where you parked. You won’t miss it – standing as the lone survivor in a clear-cut expanse of old-growth forest on Vancouver Island.
Here’s a tip: to get an up-close encounter with the tree, follow the rough trail marked with blue flags. It’s a bit steep, and you might need to navigate a few logs, but the experience is well worth the effort.
Take a Dip at China Beach
Address: China Beach Day Use Trail, Port Renfrew, BC V0R 2N0, Canada
China Beach is a sandy stretch along the Strait of Juan de Fuca, offering a pleasant stroll with captivating ocean views. The beach boasts a mix of soft sand and rocky terrain, providing a unique coastal experience.
The descent to the beach is a breeze, allowing you to explore the sandy expanse and continue south for some intriguing tide pools during your beachcombing adventure.
Visit Eden Grove
Address: Edinburgh Main Rd, Cowichan Valley, BC V0S, Canada
Tucked away in the Gordon River Valley, Eden Grove is a sanctuary for towering old-growth trees adorned with various mosses, lichens, and other small plants.
Finding the trailhead isn’t marked with flagging. Instead, as you pass by a prominent lone Douglas Fir, you’ll come across a waterfall. Just beyond that, on a tree, you’ll spot a sign indicating Eden Grove.
A recent addition to enhance the journey is a fantastic new boardwalk, which helps compensate for the somewhat rugged drive to reach this hidden gem.
Check out the Fairy Creek Old Growth Forest
Address: Port Renfrew, BC V0S, Canada
Fairy Creek provides a serene haven where you can immerse yourself in the midst of ancient old-growth trees, vibrant flora, and diverse fauna. The trees here are nothing short of ancient artifacts, reminiscent of the Middle Ages or even earlier times.
These trees contribute to a rich biodiversity that not only produces rain but also plays a crucial role in deacidifying it. Moreover, the trees extract nitrogen, a vital component that nourishes kelp, salmon, and orcas.
Apps to Download for a Trip to Avatar Grove
iNaturalist: assists in the identification of plants and animals by providing visually similar suggestions and verifying them with dedicated contributors.
Maps.me: access offline maps and receive turn-by-turn navigation instructions.
All Trails: online topographical map of over 50,000 trails in Canada and the USA.
PeakFinder: offline app that uses an elevation model to identify mountain peaks.