The West Coast Trail is incredible. Everything about it is amazing. From the wildly, incomprehensibly enormous trees to endless jaw dropping views. And it's tough.  Very tough.  It is a trail that shouldn't exist. Hiking trails always form out of the easiest route worn down over the years to some worthwhile destination. The West Coast Trail evolved out of the need to get shipwreck survivors out of this this otherwise beautiful place.

This trail was formed out of necessity and the route today is the only route realistically possible along this tangle of rainforest over brutally changing terrain. Flanked by steep cliffs on one side and the Graveyard of the Pacific on the other the route evolved where it shouldn't have. Who would plow a trail through such impenetrable wilderness unless absolutely necessary. Always wet, always up and down, hundreds of rivers, creeks, canyons, fallen trees and lots and lots of ladders. Even with all the construction of suspension bridges, cable car crossing and ladders it's brutal. And yearly, winter storms blast down monstrously huge trees and leave them sprawling across the trail.

The West Coast Trail's difficulty can be measured by its relatively short length of 75 kilometres yet it takes 5-7 days to complete. This is for two wonderful, spectacular and telling reasons. First, the trail's length is misleading as it doesn't take into account the thousands of zig-zags along the route. Both left and right as well as up and down. It is a jigsaw of a trail, up and down over endless chasms tangled with rainforest. Does that 75k take into account the 50 foot ladders? It just takes a long time to snake through and you quickly discover that 2 kilometres on the map shows as 4.8 kilometres on your gps! Added to that your pace is bogged down by whole sections of mud, crawling under and over fallen trees, and of course pausing almost every 5 minutes to soak in a sensational view.

Even the wrecked sections of trail become a thing of wonder and amusement. Often you stroll along an ancient, but lovely wooden boardwalk only to stop at a sizable length missing. A chunk of boardwalk a few metres long inexplicably missing. You stand at the end of the boardwalk and look across the gap which is a deep pool of mud with impenetrable jungle on either side. Then you spot it. On either side of the gap is a chainsawed end of an enormous tree that crashed down on the boardwalk during some winter storm a long time ago. You can tell it has been a few years because of the weathering of the two ends of the tree flanking the gap as well as the waterlogged and disintegrating pieces of this monster cut away. The tree was so massive that it sprang up when cut and the two ends are levered up to eye level with the weight of the length of tree that quickly disappears into the thick forest. Why haven't they fixed the boardwalk here? That thought crosses your mind a few times, until you pass a few more of these along the trail and realize that they must happen astonishingly often and repairing the damage takes a considerable amount of work. You would need an army of workers to keep on top of the needed repairs to the West Coast Trail. This of course is not realistic, and you slowly come to the conclusion that the trail is much more colourful and interesting with its smashed sections and constant reminders of the wild, destructive power of Vancouver Island's west coast.

West Coast Trail Hike Vancouver Island

It takes a couple days on the West Coast Trail to grasp how wonderful it is. It's so beautiful. Wildly beautiful, and this is a phenomenon that the West Coast Trail is alive with. It's constantly changing at every glance. Everywhere you look you spot a work of art in the form of a splayed tree over a river valley or a sudden gap in the forest revealing the ocean a thousand feet below. A swirling morass of green water and white, swirling foam churned up by the waves crashing from the Pacific. This constantly changing terrain with endless views and obstacles alone would secure this hike as one of the worlds best. But there is another aspect that combined with its beauty, makes it what it is. The West Coast Trail. This is a characteristic that is seldom understood or explained for how wonderful it actually is. The harsh difficulty of the trail.

The trail is brutal. It's invariably raining, so you are often soaking wet. This makes you soggy and crabby, tired and exhausted. The treacherous trail in this wet is muddy, slippery and requires your full attention at every step. This mesmerizes you as you hike. You focus completely on your next step and your mind relaxes into a meditative state. This is when it happens. You look up, catch a glance of what's around you, and it's marvellous. This is it. The West Coast Trail is a perfect combination of brutal difficulty, spectacular wildness and stunning natural beauty. Added to that you occasionally get a glimpse of history that carries you back in time. A piece of a shipwreck along the beach or a massive anchor left 150 years ago after the ship it came from succumbed to the Graveyard of the Pacific in some calamitous storm that smashed it here.  Preview the West Coast Trail Here...

West Coast Trail Hiking Guide

Hiking Trails & CampingWhistler   Hiking Trails & CampingSquamish  Hiking Trails & CampingVancouver  Hiking Trails & CampingClayoquot  Hiking Trails & CampingVictoria  Hiking Trails & CampingWest Coast Trail

Hike the West Coast Trail

  Day 1 Pachena to Darling Day 2 Darling to Tsusiat Day 3 Tsusiat to Carmanah Day 4 Carmanah to Walbran

Day 5 Walbran to Cullite Day 6 Cullite to Camper Day 7 Camper to Thrasher

West Coast Trail Campsites

 West Coast Trail CampsiteMichigan Creek at 12k West Coast Trail CampsiteDarling River at 14k Orange Juice Creek at 15k West Coast Trail CampsiteTsocowis Creek at 16.5k West Coast Trail CampsiteKlanawa River at 23k

West Coast Trail CampsiteTsusiat Falls at 25k West Coast Trail CampsiteCribs Creek at 42k West Coast Trail CampsiteCarmanah Creek at 46k West Coast Trail CampsiteBonilla Creek at 48k

West Coast Trail CampsiteWalbran Creek at 53k West Coast Trail CampsiteCullite Cove at 58k West Coast Trail CampsiteCamper Bay at 62k West Coast Trail CampsiteThrasher Cove at 70k

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