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
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.