The West Coast Trail offers sandy beaches, rugged cliffs, blowholes, caverns, caves, waterfalls, bogs, rain forest, lighthouses, abandoned settlements, shipwreck relics, petroglyphs, native culture, whales, sea lions, eagles, and giant trees. Our West Coast Trail itinerary includes stops to see historic and scenic wonders unknown to many hikers. Our pace allows time to adjust to the demands of the trail and to fully see and explore this magnificent coastal environment.
- Origin: Vancouver, BC
- Difficulty: Strenuous.
Day 0: Arrival in Vancouver. This denotes the day or days spent in Vancouver before the listed start date of the trip.
Day 1: Meet at B.C. Ferries Tsawwassen Terminal. The ferry crossing from Tsawwassen to Swartz Bay on Vancouver Island is approximately 1,5 hours. From Swartz Bay, it is about two and one half hours to Port Renfrew. After registering at the trailhead office, we will stay in Port Renfrew. The time will be used to get to know our traveling companions and discuss the trail ahead.
Day 2: We will return to the West Coast Trail registration office and be transported across the Gordon River by boat to the trailhead. Our destination is Thrasher Cove. Although just 6 km away, the terrain is such, that it will take us most of the day. There are no scenic rewards other than those provided by the forest, creeks and occasional waterfall. You will sample your first set of ladders and see a donkey machine. Thrasher Cove presents your first opportunity to enjoy beach camping. Although a small cove, it provides water and an excellent view of Port San Juan and Port Renfrew across the water.
Day 3: The morning tide will determine whether we will follow the beach to Owen Point or return to the trail. The beach hike, although characterized by huge boulders, is easier and shorter than the trail. The shelf near Owen Point has sandstone bluffs, caves and caverns, unusual rock formations and surge channels. Many hikers believe it resembles a moonscape. We will eventually leave the shelf because of impassable headlands and sample the beauty and denseness of a west coast rain forest. Camper Bay is our destination. The campsite is located by a creek and flanked by magnificent sandstone bluffs.
Day 4: Our day will once again be spent in rain forest. Although this is a difficult and usually muddy section of the trail, it offers an opportunity to really appreciate the lush, vibrant beauty of a rain forest. At Sandstone and Cullite Creeks we will encounter another series of ladders. From Cullite Creek we will pass along a boardwalked bog that features some interesting flora, including stunted cousins of hemlock, spruce and cedar. Our campsite is Logan Creek. It is famous for its spectacular suspension bridge and, of course, more ladders.
Day 5: We will cross the suspension bridge this morning. Although somewhat imposing and ominous as viewed from the creek, it is less so during the crossing. A short morning of rainforest and bog will bring us to Walbran Creek. We now leave behind the most difficult section of the trail and begin that section characterized by mostly beach and shelf hiking. At Bonilla Point we will see the Carmanah Lighthouse in the distance. Time permitting we will stop to see the beautiful little waterfall at Bonilla before moving on to our campsite at Carmanah Creek, a short distance ahead.
Day 6: We will pick up our food drop just down the beach and then move on to Carmanah Point Lighthouse for a visit. Below the lighthouse is a rock favored by sea lions. From the lighthouse we will hike a sandy beach to the Cribs. The Cribs features a natural breakwater. This breakwater is well worth exploring for its many tide pools. Depending on the tide, we will either hike the beach or leave it behind to follow the trail as it edges its way along steep cliffs.
The views will not disappoint you. We will descend to beautiful sandy beach near the Cheewhat River. After crossing the Cheewhat River we will climb Cardiac Hill (you’ll understand why it’s called so) and finally make camp on Stanley Beach. Stanley Beach has some interesting features, including petroglyphs, surge channel, abandoned house, blowhole, and honeycombed rocks.
Day 7: The trail from Stanley Beach to the Nitinat Narrows is completely boardwalked. The Narrows, because of its depth and current, must be crossed by boat with the assistance of the local natives. The section of trail from the Narrows to Tsuquadra Beach is considered by many to have the most spectacular views. Eventually we will arrive at Hole in the Wall, a wave worn hole cut into the rock at Tsusiat Point. Tsusiat Falls, just up the beach, is our campsite. Tsusiat Falls is considered by many to be one of the major highlights of the trail.
Day 8: From Tsusiat Falls we will hike to the Klanawa River and our last cable car crossing. We will follow the beach until Trestle Creek and then head into the forest. We will stop where the trail overlooks the shelf. In 1906 the S.S. Valencia went aground here in a violent storm. The battering waves eventually broke the ship apart and 126 passengers and crew lost their lives.
This tragic event was the catalyst for creation of the Life Saving Trail which would later become the West Coast Trail. Returning to the trail we will cross two suspension bridges and our last ladder. We will eventually emerge from the forest at Tsocowis Creek. It is all beach and shelf to our campsite at Michigan Creek.
Day 9: With the exception of a visit to Pachena Lighthouse, our last day on the trail will be uneventful. From Michigan Creek the trail will be entirely through rain forest. The route follows an old supply road. It is considered the easiest section of the trail. The end of the trail is at Pachena Bay. We should be there by noon. We will drive to Port Alberni for lunch and then on to the ferry terminal. We should arrive at the ferry terminal by early evening and be back in Tsawwassen late at night.
Also see tour packages in:
Canada British Columbia Outdoor: Land Rambler Hiking & Trekking Archeology/History
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