Trail Report: West Coast Trail
besthike.com is a website dedicated to recording the best hikes, trails, and tramps in the world. They're an excellent resource for hikers planning trips or going to unfamiliar locations, giving all the details you need for a successful hike. We especially love their top 10 lists, they're a great starting point for exciting hikes all over the world! -Victoria
AT A GLANCE
75 km (47 mi), 5-7 days traditional route
3-5 day routes possible via Nitinat
southwestern edge of Vancouver Island
Pacific Rim National Park
open May 1 – September 16
NO permit required September 16-30 (recommended)
NO permit required May 1 – June 14 (risky)
extremely rugged, requires a high level of fitness
6,000+ backpackers / year
permits limited and in high demand — WCT Trail reservations
… most expensive hiking permit in Canada
WHY WE LIKE THIS HIKE
#1 on our top 10 hikes in the world
it’s a near perfect hiking experience in pristine Canadian wilderness
very careful Trail management
on no other trek have we taken as many photos
mystic dawns and mind-blowing sunsets
pretty beaches, cool caves, hidden pocket coves, weird cliffs and coastal geology
WCT is in a well protected National Park, but access is easy from Victoria or Vancouver
it’s challenging — though 99% of those who start (somehow) finish
evacuation in case of disaster is efficient
thrilling boulder and log walking between Thrasher & Owen Point
scrambling up slippery Sandstone Creek
playing at Hole in the Wall
impossibly situated, gorgeous Tsusiat Falls
walking impressive old growth forest
share the trip with whales, sea lions, mink. Maybe bear and cougar. Or even wolves!
ship wrecks and other historical artifacts
cable cars and ladders can be “fun”
campfires below the tide line
no biting insects
excellent hiking guidebooks available
optional side-trip up to see the Canada’s tallest tree, the Carmanah Giant, at 95.836 m (314 ft)
fun (optional) boat trips connecting the Bamfield trailhead
quota system limits the number of people
get the 24 hour emergency phone number from Rangers. Use that only. Not 911.
some cell phones work on the beaches. A safer option is a marine VHF radio.
hikers have died on the West Coast Trail
rogue waves and surge channels pose the greatest risks
this is not a good hike for those who have never done a long multi-day trip
though the WCT is improved a little each season, it is still tough
slippery footing causes almost everyone to fall multiple times
few finish this adventure pain-free
you must carry your own heavy pack
you may need to climb as many as 50 HUGE ladders
miserably exposed, rain and wind is the norm. You need a good tent.
can you handle 6 inches of rain in 12 hours?
summer highs around 14C (57F)
risks of both hypothermia and heat stroke
river crossing are normally no problem
food is available to purchase about half way through at km 44.5
bring rope to hang food away from bears
more bear-proof food caches have been added in recent years
footwear is critical. Most carry at least 2 pairs of trusted walking shoes, one suitable for water.
For more logistics, resources, and information about how to make your own West Coast Trail trip, click here for the rest of the article!