West Coast Trail | British Columbia, Canada, 2003

m_6Distance :  50 miles (80 km)

Avg.Time :  4 – 5 days

Start / Finish :

  • Pachena Bay – Gordon River / Port Renfrew
  • See www.westcoasttrailbc.com for transport details to and from the trailheads.

Season :

  • May to September inclusive.
  • July and August can be crowded. If you plan to hike during this period, you may need to book a few months in advance.

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Maps / Info :

  • I used the Pacific Rim National Park West Coast Trail map. It is available at either trailhead, and is more than adequate for navigation on this very well marked trail. You can download it from the Canadian National parks website: www.pc.gc.ca.
  • Because of its popularity, the West Coast Trail has a quota system in place. Permits / reservations need to be booked in advance. See www.westcoasttrailbc.com for details. This website is a great soure of information for anything and everything to do with the West Coast Trail.

Route / Conditions :

  • The trail is well marked and easy to follow from start to finish.

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  • It is subject to notoriously unpredictable weather any time of year. Prepare for all types of conditions, irrespective of the month in which you are hiking.
  • When I think of the West Coast Trail, the first word that comes to mind is “diversity”. There are beaches, waterfalls, towering evergreen forests, sandstone sea caves, cliffs and tidal polls. On the fauna front, you can see bald eagles, sea lions, seals and maybe even the odd black bear. In regards to the trail itself, you have ladders, boardwalk, cable cars, long beaches, rock-hopping and, of course, the mud. Boring it is not.

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  • Equally as impressive as the flora, fauna and coastal scenery, is the rich history of the area. Once known as “the Graveyard of the Pacific”, you will pass the remnants of multiple shipwrecks, strewn amongst a sea of driftwood. The ‘West Coast Trail Map’ gives the locations, as well as a few brief details on some of the more notable wrecks.

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Sleeping :

  • Bring your own shelter. If possible try to spend a night by Tsusiat Falls. Classic campsite.

Overview :

  • There is no way around it; the West Coast Trail is a very popular walk. That being said, it is popular for a reason. Quite simply it is a stunning hike from start to finish.
  • Avoid some of the crowds by hiking in May or late September.

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