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Photo by: Paxson Woelber

The West Coast Trail

Discover Vancouver Island

If you are looking to go hike a rugged breathtaking wonderland with few other people around, you need to try the West Coast Trail on Vancouver Island. On this popular trail, crowding is not a problem since Parks Canada limits overnight permits to only 30 people per day from each end of the 75 km (45 mile) trail. Day hikers are not counted in the quota but must still get permits.

History/People

The West Coast trail was originally built as a lifesaving trail for those surviving shipwrecks to have a route to along the coast. Now it is a place for those who want to get out into some of Nature’s best without the crowds. The people who you do encounter however, will most likely be friendly and it is common for hikers to mingle around evening campfires before heading off in the morning.

Other people you may see here include the Huu-ay-aht, Ditidaht and Pacheedaht First Nations who still live on the coast here and some of their members maintain the trail.  There are also the ferry operators who are often also fishermen, and they serve up some satisfying seafood dishes to hungry hikers.

Time and Distance:

Durations:

5-7 days

Starting points:

Bamfield near Barkley Sound in the north; Port Renfrew on Port San Juan Bay in the south. The WCT can be walked in either direction

Time of Year:

The WCT is open from May 1 to September 30. June 15 to September 15 is peak hiking season and reservations are highly recommended.

Reservations:

Hikers can reserve online https://secure.camis.com/Discovercamping/or through the Parks Canada call center (1-866-727-5722). A standby list also is available.

Sleeping/Gear:

It is camping only and hikers must carry all of their food and gear

Transportation:

West Coast Trail Express provides convenient shuttle bus service (May 1 to September 30) from Victoria and Nanaimo to the trail heads and they will do pickup/dropoffs between trail heads

Wildlife:

You will have a chance to see Grey, Orca and Humpback Whales, seals and sea lions and small fish feeding close to shore. Eagles are quite common and check out our West Coast Bird list for other possible bird sightings.

Videos:

West Coast Trail overview

Is it for you?

Walking in our Ancestors footsteps:

Planning your trip:

What to pack: