French Beach Provincial Park is east of the seaside community of Sooke, one of thirteen communities that form the Capital Regional District of British Columbia and lies in the Juan de Fuca Electoral District. The one hundred and forty five acres were donated to the province of British Columbia. The property and name of this park commemorates James George French, a pioneering naturalist and traveler whom collected exotic animals and lived on the parkland He selectively logged the area before it become the parkland so there are several large trees in this second growth forest of British Columbia. Mr. French operated an animal menagerie that was initially located at Willows Beach then near Swan Lake before moving to French Beach. This area has been a provincial park since nineteen fifty-two.
The camping area and walking trails are under the boughs of Douglas fir, Sitka spruce, Western red cedar and hemlock and big leaf maples. The understory has salal, ferns, ocean spray, Oregon grape and huckleberry bushes. From the day use parking area, a trail leads down to the playground and large grass covered for day use. There are washrooms near the parking area and near the playground. The play equipment includes various climbing apparatus and is set on a wood chip base. The trail continues to the water or stroll either left or right (east and west). The west trail follows the shoreline with sections in the forest to the group camping site. There are stairs along this route as well as a small ephemeral creek. The east trail follows the shoreline and leads to the trails from the camping area. This is a good route to see some large trees with trunks twisted by the prevailing winds as well as the diversity of the parkland second growth forest. Sitka spruce trees are the most salt water tolerant and can be seen closest to the rock and cobble shoreline. The shore line has some sand and pebble areas with sandstone and schist. The views across the Strait of Juan de Fuca to the Olympic Mountains are spectacular. Three small creeks flow through this park, Goudie Creek, Frenchome Creek and a smaller seasonal creek that flows through the group camping area. The waterways make the marsh lands that are found near the shoreline and add to the lush ferns and seasonal plants of the forest floor. There are benches, picnic areas and many viewpoints through the parkland. This is a good place to walk in your back yard.
Geographical location N48º 23’ 40” W123º 56’ 30”
French Beach Provincial Park can be reached from the Trans Canada Highway. It can take over an hour to reach the park from Victoria, B.C. Take the Langford Parkway exit and follow along to reach Sooke Road (Hwy 14). Follow Highway 14 as it becomes West Coast Road. Continue along past Shirley until you see the sings indicating the proximity of French Beach. There is parking in this area near the day use area and camping sites. There is a separate access for group camping.
Further information: http://bcparks.ca/explore/parkpgs/french_bch/