The West Coast Trail

This is Canada's most famous trek, covering 75 km between Port Renfrew and Bamfield, BC. The West Coast Trail was originally built as a life-saving trail for survivors of the many ship wrecks that litter the west coast of Vancouver Island. Now the trail is part of Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, and attracts over 5,000 hikers each year. Rumours still circulate that the trail is always overbooked. This is not true, even in high season there tend to be empty spots.

The trail has been described as one of the most challenging treks on the continent, although we prefer to call it world's greatest playground for big kids. Just depends on your fitness level. It usually takes 4-7 days, although we met a couple of guys trying to do it in two.

Five of us hiked the West Coast Trail in September 2003. We took 7.5 days, which gave us ample time to explore and have lots of fun.

Slide shows

Our recommendations

  1. Go in late fall, when the chance of good weather is better, and there are hardly any other hikers on the trail. No need to make reservations then either.
  2. Equipment: a good pack, gaiters, and trekking poles. The latter are life-savers.
  3. Although the trail can be hiked in either direction, we prefer the Port Renfrew to Bamfield route, as then you get the hard part first, and you don't have to worry about catching a ferry on your last day.
  4. Get in shape. You'll enjoy the trek so much more.
  5. Take a camera! Photos.
  6. Buy some books and a map.
  7. Plan to have fun!

More information