#1 best hike in the world is …

The West Coast Trail

No surprise. We’ve called the WCT the best hike in the world since 1999.

Its “a near perfect hiking experience in pristine Canadian wilderness.”

Variety is the main reason we name West Coast Trail the finest walking adventure anywhere. Many hike it every year. On the “Shipwreck Coast” of Vancouver Island, it’s a thrill ride.

We’ve never taken more photos on any other trip.

A coastal hike of 75km (47mi) between Port Renfrew (Gordon River) and Bamfield (Pachena Bay), ideally you want 7 days, 6 nights though many do it in less.

 

  • 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 pretty Tsusiat Falls
  • walking in 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

 

Considerations:

The biggest hassle is the quota system which limits the number of people starting each day to 52. You need to be organized months in advance to get your hands on a Trail Permit.

 

  • 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 it gets a little easier 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 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

 

Get the details on how to organize to hike it on our West Coast Trail information page.

West-Coast-Trail

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13 thoughts on “#1 best hike in the world is …

  1. Thanks to your ratings, I just did the WCT for the first time this week. It was everything you built it up to be – it probably helped that I had four rain-free days. I’m already planning on doing it again next year!

  2. I think the #1 rating is a bit of inflation.

    The trail has some very unique aspects (beach walking, ladders, lighthouses, cable cars), but unique does not equal best.

    While the beach walking is spectacular, it still can’t compare to the views near Assiniboine or in the Sierras. The other aspects are simply unique to the area, but aren’t that breath-taking.

    If you hit this trail at the wrong time, you could be in for some misery – walking through miles of mud in no way equals “the best” trail in the world.

    Beautiful trip, just not the best trip I’ve ever been on.

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  4. West Coast Trail is great. Unique “along-the-coast” experience. But the constant mud and VERY difficult footing does detract from the experience. I’ts up there in the top 10, but not #1. I’ve had nicer experiences in Wyoming’s Wind Rivers.

  5. I just completed the WCT two days ago. It was the best time of my life. Not a drop of rain! Yes, the trail is very muddy and the ladders gave me vertigo, but I left the trail with an enormous sense of accomplishment and new knowledge about the rainforest of the West Coast of Canada. We saw Grey and Humpback Whales every day. If you go, I highly recommend hiking poles and gaiters. Also, do everything in your power to make your pack less than 50 pounds.

  6. My wife and I have hiked the WCT on Vancouver Island, and enjoyed it very much. I have to say, however, it was not anywhere near as physically/mentally challenging as the North Coast Trail, which follows the coast line over the northern end of Vancouver Island. We saw no humans for 5 of the 8 days, but had bears, wolves, etc., aplenty. Of the two hikes, the WCT was the more enjoyable.

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