West Coast Trail

Key information: West Coast Trail

    • Superb walk in gorgeous wilderness on Vancouver Island.
    • Ocean, beaches, cliffs, forests to revel in.
    • Be prepared for likely bad (sometimes terrible) weather. This is a multi-day walk. Plan carefully for obstacles such as tide levels.

Walkopedia rating

  • Walkopedia rating80
  • Beauty32
  • Natural interest16
  • Human interest4
  • Charisma30
  • Negative points2
  • Total rating80
  • Note: Negs: weather often terrible

Vital Statistics

  • Length: 75km
  • 5-7 nights
  • Level of Difficulty: Difficult



The West Coast Trail ‎is a particularly fine hike through pristine (overused word but it applies here) wilderness on Vancouver Island's south-western coast.


Enjoy gorgeous coastal landscape: huge empty beaches washed by grand swells and breakers, coves and caves, and geologically fascinating cliffs and rocks. Several waterfalls crash down the coastal cliffs. You will with luck see whales and sea lions as well as a multitude of birds. And you should get some marvellous dawns and sunsets.


Inland, you will be walking through magnificent ancient redwood forests. ‎You may meet bears (come prepared!), cougars, mink. Wolves inhabit the forests, too.


There are occasional signs of humanity: some melancholy remains of shipwrecks, and other signs of the past: indeed, the trail began as a sailors' rescue route.

The route, which is superbly planned and managed, is 75km between the towns of Port Renfrew ‎ and Bamfield. You can walk either way. It can be done in 5 days, but 7 are recommended to get the best out of the trail.

The "season" is 1 May to 30 Sept. Numbers allowed on the trail are limited, so book early.  The booking system is somewhat complex (and can require telephoning at exact hours on set days), so get prepared early. (It can be hard to walk the whole route outside this period.)


This is a demanding walk in remote wilderness, on which you will have to be self-sufficient. Come prepared. Be prepared for likely bad (sometimes terrible) weather. 6 inches of rain have been known to fall in 12 hours. The trail is often slippery as a result of the rainfall, so take care and expect to fall at some point.‎ ‎You need to climb a lot of long ladders, so need a head for heights.

Understanding sea levels is important in planning: high water can be a dangerous obstacle, so you will need to get to some crossings at low tide. Beware rogue waves and surge channels.

You will need to carry your own heavy pack, to include a good tent.


There are several good guidebooks, which should be read well ahead of time. Bliss and Blisters by David Foster and Wayne Aitken is Best Hike's favourite.


 (Amazon widget here)


See more information on the excellent Besthike.


You can make a guided expedition if you want. 



[Have a look at TripAdvisor  there are tens of millions of reviews, so you may get good, current views on this walk.]


Other accounts: share your experiences

Your comments on this walk, your experiences and suggestions, and your photos are very welcome. Where appropriate, you will be credited for your contribution.


Name: AlanG53
Posted on: 13/01/2013
please add this link to the description of the West Coast Trail. http://www.pc.gc.ca/pn-np/bc/pacificrim/activ/activ6a.aspx photo: pick one from: Google/images "west coast trail" I've done the trail twice and give it a high rating for a wilderness hike.

Name: Josine
Posted on: 02/08/2015
We like your website a lot, can we attribute photos? Josine

Walkopedia says: nice photos always welcome and always attributed!

Name: Josine
Posted on: 02/08/2015
Must be very lucky with the weather and take gaiters! Lots of staircases and wildlife to enjoy.

Walkopedia says: Thanks, Josine!

Your comments on this walk, your experiences and suggestions, and your photos are very welcome. Where appropriate, you will be credited for your contribution.


Safety and problems: All walks have inherent risks and potential problems, and many of the walks featured on this website involve significant risks, dangers and problems. Problems of any sort can arise on any walk. This website does not purport to identify any (or all) actual or potential risks, dangers and problems that may relate to any particular walk.

Any person who is considering undertaking this walk should do careful research and make their own assessment of the risks, dangers and possible problems involved. They should also go to “Important information” for further important information.

Anyone planning an expedition to this place should see further important information about this walk.


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