Pacheena Bay Campground - West Coast TrailThe Pachena Bay Campground is the closest campsite to the Pachena trailhead, not on the West Coast Trail, but near the trailhead.. Located on the far end of Pachena Beach, and about a 10 minute walk from the trailhead and the West Coast Trail registration building. Keep in mind that this is not on the West Coast Trail or affiliated with the WCT. Pachena Bay Campground is run by the Huu-ay-aht First Nations which resides nearby in the community of Anacla. 

The campsite is pretty good, but like most privately run, near-trailhead campsites, it is a bit crowded and very well used. It is also a bit expensive at $34 for a tent site, but you are getting a great location. Along with the location, the beach itself is terrific. Huge, sandy beach with a sweeping ocean view as well as the occasional bear visitor in the distance. 

Pachena Bay stretches for 3 kilometres of beautiful, fine, beige sand. The beach is about 200 metres wide and somewhat similar to Long Beach in Pacific Rim National Park just a few kilometres north. Bamfield is just 3 kilometres down a gravel road and is a wonderful old fishing community that takes you back a few decades(in a good way). It is lovely, wild and very remote feeling. Many visitors to Pachena Bay are setting off on the West Coast Trail, however you will find some very nice, short, and free hiking trails nearby. These hikes are varied and each wonderful in their own right. Cape Beale Headlands, Keeha Beach, Kicha Lake and the trail to Bamfield all run through the centuries old rainforest in an unexpectedly wild and pristine setting. For big crashing waves and sweeping views of the Pacific, Cape Beale and Keeha Beach are impressive.

Sportsfishing in the area around the campground is famous throughout the world. Anglers fishing Barkley Sound and offshore areas catch halibut, sockeye, chinook, chum and pink salmon. The prime fishing season is May to September. Charter packages can include boat, guide, gear, tackle and weather gear. There is a boat ramp and moorage available in Bamfield. Enjoy a day cruise along the scenic Alberni Canal and into magnificent Barkley Sound aboard an historic and picturesque coastal steamer. The M.V. Frances Barkley runs year-round between Port Alberni and Bamfield. En route, be prepared for a spectacular show of west coast wildlife: bald eagles, black bears, sea lions, otters, grey whales, and orcas (killer whales). The marine ecology in the ocean waters around the Pachena Bay Campground offers some of the best diving in the world. A group of Canadian universities operates a research facility at the Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre, and a group of American universities operates the School for Field Studies, also located in Bamfield, near the campground. Divers to the region can explore a wonderful underwater world, or examine sunken wrecks in the “Graveyard of the Pacific.” Scuba air is available nearby in Bamfield.

Pachena Beach - West Coast Trail

From the Pachena Bay Campground kayakers can explore the Pachena River, Pachena Bay, Seabird Islands, Clutus Point, Keeha Bay, Pachena Point and Cape Beale. You may witness soaring eagles, frolicking sea lions, majestic whales, prowling orcas (killer whales), or black bears foraging along the shore. Kayaks can be rented in Bamfield. Some of the best opportunities for eco-tours are available around Pachena Bay. Whale-watching is popular, as whales migrate past Pachena Bay and Barkley Sound; some even enter inshore waters. Occasionally, whales can be seen from the campground, feeding along the shore near Clutus Point. There are eco-tour, sightseeing, whale watching, and day-sailing operators in Bamfield.

Pachena Trailhead Map - West Coast Trail

Pachena Bay Area Shipwrecks - West Coast Trail

Shipwrecks Near the Pachena Bay CampgroundThe Pachena Bay Campground overlooks the bay with the first two shipwrecks that you will pass on the West Coast Trail. Unfortunately you will have to use your imagination as there are no visible(above water) remnants of the Alaskan shipwreck of 1923, or the Soquel shipwreck of 1902. The Alaskan was a small, wooden hulled steamship of 150 tons built in Oregon in 1886. She was owned by a Vancouver freight company and was on route to Kildonan in Barkley Sound with 100 tons of box of metal fittings(shooks). The Alaskan was last seen from Pachena Point apparently unable to round Cape Beale due to high winds she evidently had turned back. Distress flares were reportedly spotted in the evening from witnesses. No one witnessed her destruction and the Alaskan is believed to have foundered just after 7pm on January 2nd, 1923, killing the entire crew of 11. Three bodies washed ashore with considerable debris on the beaches west of Pachena Point. You will pass the presumed location of the Alaskan shipwreck at about the 4k mark on the West Coast Trail, however there is no visible indication of the wreck for hikers to see.

Shipwrecks Near the Pachena Bay CampgroundThe Soquel shipwreck, which lies just past Seabird Rocks, was a much larger ship than the Alaskan at 698 tons. She was a four masted schooner built in San Francisco, California in 1902. The Soquel was sailing with ballast from Callao, Peru, heading for Port Townsend (near Seattle), when bad weather and high seas carried her far off course. The crew of 12 battled the storm as it continued to worsen, toppling two of the ship's four masts. The captains wife and daughter were killed by falling spars when the masts came crashing down on them. Throughout the night they struggled to reach a safe place to escape the storm. At some point during the the night she ran aground. The next morning, on January 22nd, 1909, the Soquel was spotted, aground on Seabird Rocks. The recently organized Bamfield lifesaving crew began a rescue operation. They battled the huge waves with their steamer, however unable to get close enough to perform a rescue. A few hours later, a second steamer arrived on the scene and together they managed to save five of the crew. Darkness prevented further rescue and the seven remaining crew had to wait out the night on the wrecked ship. The next morning calmer seas enable the rescue the remaining survivors as well as the bodies of the captain's wife and child. You will pass the presumed location of the Soquel shipwreck at about the 5 kilometre mark on the West Coast Trail, however there is no visible indication of the wreck for hikers to see. 

Shipwrecks Near the Pachena Bay CampgroundThe captain of the Sarah sighted the recently built Carmanah Point Lighthouse and mistook it for the Tatoosh Island Lighthouse. The Sarah struggled against the south-east wind and the ship was pushed westward. Later the crew was able to regain their eastward coarse, toward what they though was the Juan de Fuca Strait. The ocean current had moved the ship considerably far north and on the evening of the 8th November, 1891, the crew was surprised to suddenly hear distant breakers. They immediately dropped anchor, then shortly after another one. But it was too late, the Sarah ran aground on the shore of what is now kilometre 7 of the West Coast Trail. One lifeboat was freed with some of the crew, however the captain, the rest of his crew and his wife and baby remained because the second lifeboat could not be freed. Throughout the following day and night they struggled to free the boat to make their escape to safety. Two of the crew drowned in attempting to reach the shore in a makeshift raft. Finally they managed to free another lifeboat and the survivors managed to get ashore. 

Shipwrecks Near the Pachena Bay CampgroundBuilt in 1864 the 1376 ton, 3 masted ship, Becherdass-Ambiadass was wrecked on the rocky shore only a half mile from Pachena Point. This British ship was returning from Shanghai to Moodyville (now North Vancouver) when Cape Beale was sighted. As she neared Vancouver Island early morning fog blinded her and under full sail collided with the abruptly rocky shore near the 8k mark of the West Coast Trail. Amazingly no one was seriously hurt, but the ship was wrecked. The crew used the lifeboats to save themselves. The next day a local boat carried both the crew and their belongings to Victoria. In the following weeks the ship disintegrated on the rocks. There are no remnants of wreckage from the Becherdass-Ambiadass shipwreck to see. The wreck sits under the waves not far from where the Black River meets the ocean at the 8 kilometre mark of the West Coast Trail.

Shipwrecks Near the Pachena Bay CampgroundBuilt in 1864 the 1376 ton, 3 masted ship, Becherdass-Ambiadass was wrecked on the rocky shore only a half mile from Pachena Point. This British ship was returning from Shanghai to Moodyville (now North Vancouver) when Cape Beale was sighted. As she neared Vancouver Island early morning fog blinded her and under full sail collided with the abruptly rocky shore near the 8k mark of the West Coast Trail. Amazingly no one was seriously hurt, but the ship was wrecked. The crew used the lifeboats to save themselves. The next day a local boat carried both the crew and their belongings to Victoria. In the following weeks the ship disintegrated on the rocks. There are no remnants of wreckage from the Becherdass-Ambiadass shipwreck to see. The wreck sits under the waves not far from where the Black River meets the ocean at the 8 kilometre mark of the West Coast Trail.

Shipwrecks Near the Pachena Bay CampgroundFurther along the West Coast Trail at the 12k mark you will come to the Michigan. The Michigan shipwreck on the West Coast Trail is the first one you can see and actually touch, which is incredible since it is well over a century old. On January 21st, 1893 this 695 ton steam schooner was heading to Puget Sound from San Francisco. The strong northerly current that prevails in this part of the Pacific and would eventually cause dozens of shipwrecks, caused the Michigan to massively overrun her position. Instead of sailing into the Juan de Fuca Strait, she collided with Vancouver Island in the middle of the night. The 25 people on board managed to get ashore after daylight.  The the seas calmed the crew was able to retrieve a boat from the wreck and was able to get to Neah Bay for assistance. A ship rescue was attempted, but was not successful. One death resulted from the attempt to hike over the old telegraph trail to Carmanah Point. A testament to how difficult it was then as compared to how relatively easy the now relatively easy West Coast Trail.

Shipwreck on the West Coast TrailAlaskan at 4k Shipwreck on the West Coast TrailSoquel at 5k Shipwreck on the West Coast TrailSarah at 7k Shipwreck on the West Coast TrailBecherdass-Ambiadass at 8k Shipwreck on the West Coast TrailMichigan at 12k

Driving to Pachena Bay - West Coast Trail

Very Potholed FSR to Pachena BayIt is quite a drive to get to Pachena Bay no matter which direction you come from. From Victoria it is a whopping 5-6 hours. Much of that is on a brutally bad logging road that is frequented by gigantic logging trucks barrelling past. If you are coming from Port Alberni, the driving time is 2 hours and from Duncan, 3 hours. If you are coming from the mainland via Nanaimo, the drive(from Nanaimo) is 3.5 hours). There is an excellent bus service that runs to and from both West Coast Trail trailheads. Owing to the fact that the West Coast Trail is a linear hiking trail, most park at one end and bus to the other. If you park at the Port Renfrew(Gordan River) trailhead you will save your car from the harsh logging road as the road to Port Renfew is lovely and paved. Another consideration is the Bamfield and Pachena West Coast Trail parking areas don't have the best reputation for security. In fact, so many cars in the past have been looted that secure parking lots have sprung up. There are a couple of nice ones in Port Renfew that cost about $10/day. Which sounds like a lot, but peace of mind is worth it. And they have convenient showers just steps from your car and they happily drive you to and from the West Coast Trail registration building near the the trailhead.

Campsites Near Pachena Bay - West Coast Trail

Michigan Creek Campsite Rating - West Coast TrailThe Pachena Bay Campground is not on the West Coast Trail, but close to the trailhead. The first campground you will encounter on the West Coast Trail is the Michigan Creek campsite at 12 kilometres. This is a fairly mediocre campsite as it has a bit of an ugly beach and is always quite crowded. On the plus side, the shipwreck of the Michigan can be seen(and touched), as the big, rusting boiler from the ship that met its end on this shore over a century ago. A couple kilometres past Michigan Creek is the much nicer, Darling River campsite. The beach is a bit better than the beach at Michigan Creek. Darling is often far less busy. And you have quick access to a little corner of paradise, not mentioned on West Coast Trail guidebooks. Darling Falls is overlooked by almost everyone as it is just out of sight from the beach. The falls are not terribly impressive or dramatically large, however, they are almost impossibly idyllic.. in a wild, West Coast Trail sort of way. Emerald green water, hemmed in on all sides by tall trees and deep forest. The water flows into a beautiful pool that flows down to the ocean.

Pachena Bay Campground Michigan Creek at 12k Darling River at 14k Orange Juice Creek at 15k

 

West Coast Trail Campsites

The Pachena Bay Campground is the closest campsite to the Pachena trailhead, not on the West Coast ...
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The campsite at Michigan Creek is the first or last campsite you will encounter on the West ...
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Just a kilometre past the Darling River campsite you will come to another beach campsite at Orange ...
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The Tsocowis Creek campsite at 16.5k has a decent beach with an excellent water source. Most hikers ...
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The campsite at Klanawa River is quite nice beacause of its lovely, swimmable river, expansive ...
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Carmanah Creek slowly flows through this wonderfully massive channel that cuts deep into the ...
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Walbran Creek at 53k is home to possibly the best, and most unappreciated campsites on the West ...
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The Pacheedaht Campground is a beautiful, and often bustling campground, quite close to the ...
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