Not a walk to break in new boots, the 75km trail from Vancouver Island’s Port Renfrew to Bamfield attracts hikers from around the world, and for good reason. The undeniable physical challenge is matched by stunning coastal wilderness. Along slippery boardwalks, up intimidating wooden ladders, across streams and sandy beaches, enjoyment of the WCT depends greatly on your luck with weather. Over a hundred hikers are evacuated each year, many due to hypothermia. That doesn’t stop folks snapping up the limited spots available. Once you’ve gazed into the tidal pools, showered under Tsusiat Falls, walked beneath old growth trees and befriended hikers around a driftwood campfire, the risks slip well beneath the reward.
Length of Trip : 5 – 7 Days
Cost : $300 +. Budget for your park permits, return bus ride, gear, food, accessories, ferries etc.
Best time to go : July and August. There’s less people in the shoulder season of September and June, although the weather can be even more challenging. Reservations are essential.
Wheelchair friendly : No
Family friendly : Recommended for teenagers up, although I did see younger kids on the trail.
Where to eat : Around the fire! Easy packaged meals are best. Don’t forget a bottle of hot sauce, and to tie up your food at night.
Official Site : Visit Parks Canada for more info and you can make a reservation for an independent journey here. If you’d like to avoid the headaches of tidal charts, packing and planning, book the experience with Great Canadian Trails. The package includes:
Where to Stay : Make sure your lightweight tent is waterproof.
Getting There : From Vancouver to Vancouver Island: Car via passenger ferries, bus or air. To Pacheena Bay Trailhead near Bamfield; 3 hour drive from Port Alberni or Duncan or by West Coast Trail Express Bus email: [email protected] from Victoria or Nanaimo; or by Alberni Marine Transport Ltd. passenger ferry from Port Alberni; or by Western Bus Lines Bus from Port Alberni. The WCT Hiker Registration Office located 4 km south of Bamfield. To Gordon River Trailhead near Port Renfrew: Drive 2 hours from Victoria via Highway 14 or take the West Coast Trail Connector Bus from Victoria. To Nitinat Lake-Visitor Centre Trailhead: 2 Hour drive from Duncan or Port Alberni… by paved and gravel roads from Duncan, or Port Alberni, about 2 hours; by West Coast Trail Express Bus (reservations). The WCT Hiker Registration Office is located at the General Store. A water-taxi is required to get down the lake to the actual WCT mid-point at Nitinat Narrows. Between Port Renfrew, Nitinat Village and Bamfield… by Pacheenaht First Nation Bus Service about 3 hours; or by Trailhead Charters Boat Service (Port Renfrew – Bamfield) about 5 hours.
Note from Robin : Make sure you’re in decent shape. Check the tide tables. Watch out for slippery roots! Swim in the waterfalls whenever you get a chance. While you can do the trail faster, taking one day off to rest was magical.
FOR THIS EXPERIENCE, WE RECOMMEND
|Durand Mid WP (Available for Men and Women)
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Liberty Ridge (Available for Men and Women)
The Liberty Ridge hiking boot is KEEN’s tough, supportive high-performance leather boot for long trips on gnarly trails. The shock absorbing direct-attach PU midsole delivers lasting comfort, and a full-length shank adds stability. The waterproof upper and KEEN.DRY waterproof, breathable membrane combine to keep your feet dry. Designed to handle any trail surface, if you rack up serious backcountry mileage with a full pack, this is your boot. American Built with materials from around the world.
Gypsum (Available for Men and Women)
Lace up the Gypsum and rack up the trail miles. For stability, comfort and moisture management, this lightweight hiker delivers with built-in technology including a specially designed 4mm lugged outsole, KEEN.Zorb strobel and KEEN.Dry waterproof breathable membrane.
Saltzman WP (Available for Men and Women)
The Saltzman Waterproof hiking shoe is perfect for long day hikes and rugged global adventure. The closed mesh upper is light, flexible and tough. The waterproof, breathable KEEN.DRY membrane protects from rain and mud. High-traction outsole and springy midsole combine with a metatomical dual density footbed add long lasting cushioning.
Targhee II Mid: (Available for Men and Women)
Here’s a hiking boot that offers four-wheel-drive performance for your feet. It’s designed to be both waterproof and breathable, and the aggressive outsole bites into the terrain. The mid-cut height adds ankle support.
Interested in this Bucket List item? Here’s some suggested readings:
Want to take on one of the world’s great Bucket List hikes, but don’t know where to start? Intimidated by the tidal charts, packing for a week of rugged trekking, or making meals on the go? Great Canadian Trails offers a guided West Coast Trail itinerary that takes care of all the logistics, allowing you to focus on the task at hand – completing the hike, and immersing yourself in the majestic coastal rainforest.
The Great Canadian Trails’ West Coast Trail package includes:
CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION OR TO BOOK YOUR TRIP