Backpacking the West Coast Trail

Canada West Coast Trail

Added by Mike O'Hara

  • Distance: 47 miles (yeah)!
  • Duration: 5 to 7 days in the Pacific North West
  • Considered one of the best (and toughest) hikes in the world
  • One of the best trips you have ever taken for sure

The trail requires a permit from May 1 - September 16. All other dates have restrictions. Check Parks Canada website for more details.

You can start from the north or south end of the trail. There are buses provided by the Pacific Rim National Park that will shuttle you back to your car or to the trailhead. The trail is through rain forest, along beaches, in mud, on slippery boardwalks, across rivers via cable cars, and up and down numerous system of ladders. This trail is extremely rugged and takes a certain level of fitness.

The weather changes constantly. Rain in the morning can lead to sun in the afternoon. You will most likely encounter rain on one day. If you dodge the rain the whole trip, consider yourself one lucky duck! The rain is part of the trail though. Without it, the adventure would not be the same.

There are two restaurants along the trail. One with burgers, beer, and plenty snacks. The other with fresh crab and salmon, cooked right in front of you (they pull it out of the water in front of you). There are outhouse bathrooms at the campsites, but bring a shovel in case mother nature calls along the trail.

It’s not inexpensive. Fees include a $24.50 reservation fee plus $127.50 for a West Coast Trail fee. Two ferry crossings will cost $30 each and transportation to and from the trailheads. It's an amazing trail that requires attention to detail, training, and the right gear. The scenery will leave you speechless!

Pack List

  • Tent
  • Sleeping bag
  • Sleeping pad
  • Pack
  • Rain Gear
  • Towel
  • Waterproof boots
  • Extra Socks
  • Gaiters
  • Down jacket
  • Tarp
  • Water filtration
  • Small Shovel
  • Toilet Paper
  • Tide Chart
  • Map (One is provided by the Park)
  • Headlamp
  • Hatchet
  • Fire Starter
  • Matches
  • Trekking Poles
  • Camera
  • Spare Dry Clothes (you'll want something dry to sleep in)
  • Canadian Money
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Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

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Activities:

Backpacking, Photography

Skill Level:

Advanced

Season:

Summer

Rating:

Features:

Adult Beverages
Beach
Forest
River
Swimming Hole
Waterfall
Wildlife

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How to Get There

9 months ago

Ladders And Man Baskets!

One of the best hikes I've done, with different scenery and challenges every day. Explore two lighthouses, climb boulders and time the tide right to explore the caves. I'd suggest getting the more difficult section (south) of the trail out of the way first while you are fresh, and hike from port renfrew to bamfield. Also, take the water taxi back instead of the shuttle, it's 1/3 of the time and more scenic.

9 months ago

Added by Mike O'Hara

Photographer. California Native. Avid Adventurer. Ocean Dweller.

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