The West Coast Trail IntroductionWhen shipping in and out of Juan de Fuca Strait rapidly increased in the mid 1800's and an alarming and costly number of ships were lost, the need for a inland trail was realized. It would take decades, and many more brutal and costly shipwrecks in the waters leading to Juan de Fuca Strait, to finally construct a life saving trail. The West Coast Trail has a wonderfully, horrifically, brutally, and certainly lengthy history.

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The West Coast TrailThe 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.

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When to Hike & Fees for the West Coast TrailThe West Coast Trail hiking season is confined to just five months due to the dangerously stormy weather during the winter months. In the winter the days are short, tides are high and heavy rain and strong winds are frequent. Hiking the trail in the summer is tough enough without these added challenges. To keep the trail from becoming overcrowded, overnight hikers are limited to 75 per day. 

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Trailheads for the West Coast TrailThere are three entry/exit points for the West Coast Trail, however the midway entry/exit point at Nitinaht Narrows is for hikers only hiking part of the trail. The two main entry points are at Pachena Bay in the north(Bamfield) and Gordon River in the south(Port Renfrew). Port Renfrew is located a 2 hours drive from Victoria and Bamfield is quite a bit further and more challenging to get to and find.

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Getting to the West Coast TrailThere are lots of options to getting to the West Coast Trail. The trail is linear so you have to arrange to get to the trailhead as well as from your exit trailhead. Most West Coast Trail hikers drive to one trailhead then bus to the other and hike back to their car. Others take the West Coast Express bus from Victoria to one of the trailheads and take the same bus back to Victoria.

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Considerations for the West Coast TrailThe West Coast Trail is a very tough hike. About one out of one hundred hikers don't make it, they need to be rescued. That's why there are so many fees. By the time you are done preparing and registering, you laugh at how hiking got so expensive. Isn't hiking usually free?  All the costs are for saving people that don't make it, and for all the trail construction. And there is a lot. A lot of both. 

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Considerations for the West Coast TrailThere are 13 established campsites along the West Coast Trail. They are fairly well spaced out and all are located near fresh water creeks and rivers.  Amenities are kept to a minimum to keep the trail wild and beautiful, so you rarely see any signs or markers to indicate precisely where to pitch your tent.  This is one of the many great aspects of the West Coast Trail is the focus on keeping it natural looking.

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Shipwreck Icon West Coast TrailWest Coast Trail has a dizzying array of beautiful sights to see.  Unfortunately due to the difficulty of the trail, weather, or just too much focus on finishing the trail, many amazing things are missed, or simply glossed over quickly.  Darling Falls, for example, is a gorgeous little waterfall spilling into an emerald green pool that flows through a maze of enormous, mangled trees blown in by winter storms. 

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West Coast Trail Shipwrecks

The Puritan was a 4 masted schooner of 614 tons sailing inbound from San Francisco in ballast. She ...
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The Robert Lewers was a 185 foot, four masted schooner of 732 tons, built in Port Blakely, ...
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The Janet Cowan was a steel sailing vessel, four-masted, bark rigged, of 2498 tons built at ...
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The Valencia Disaster

The Valencia was a 252-foot-long passenger steamship built in 1882 in Philadelphia. She served as a passenger ship down the eastern coast of North America until 1898 when she was sold to the Pacific ...
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A week after the wreck of the Valencia, The Daily Colonist of Victoria ran a cover story about the aftermath of the disaster and the horrific scenes that continued to be found. Sydney Van Wyck of ...
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When the survivors on the second raft were rescued by the Topeka just five hours into their ordeal and so close to death that they could barely stand, one of them asked about the first raft.  It was ...
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The Valencia departed from San Francisco at 11:20am on Saturday, January 20th 1906, bound for Victoria and Seattle. She cruised roughly parallel to the coast at a variable distance that ranged from about 8 ...
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West Coast Trail Campsites

Cribs Creek at 42k of the West Coast Trail is a beautiful, clean, and surprisingly emerald coloured creek that flows through the messy, beach campsite. The pretty creek is about the only nice part about this campsite. The beach is not great, it smells of ageing seaweed, ...
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The 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. ...
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Cullite Cove is a wonderful campsite on the West Coast Trail at the 58 kilometre mark. One of the nicest campsites that has everything, a lovely wooded area with clearings for tents and campfires, stunning views all around. A terrific, pebble beach, beautifully ...
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One of the most popular and beautiful campsites along the West Coast Trail is Tsusiat Falls. Tsusiat Falls is one of the main highlights on the trail with its dramatically wide and beautifully picturesque appearance. You will find Tsusiat Falls at the base of an ...
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Day 5 on the West Coast Trail is a stunning, very difficult and tremendously enjoyable day of hiking. Walbran Creek is gorgeous campsite to wake up to. Your tent will open up to a sweeping view of ...
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West Coast Trail A to Z

Owen Point, at about the 67km mark on the West Coast Trail is home to a stunningly colourful and well hidden area of sandstone caves carved out by the ocean. Centuries of crashing waves have gouged out huge, circular openings in the cliffs jutting out into the ...
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The Cape Beale Lighthouse was built in 1873 and lit up the southern tip of the entrance to Barkley Sound. Barkley Sound is the huge gap in Vancouver Island filled with islands, with Ucluelet at the north end of the gap and Bamfield and Cape Beale at the south end. ...
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Darling Falls has to be the most overlooked and underrated feature of the West Coast Trail. It never even appeared in West Coast Trail guidebooks until recently and hardly any websites or blogs give it a mention. There are some good reasons for this. First, the ...
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Explore BC Hiking Destinations!

The West Coast Trail

The West Coast Trail was created after decades of brutal and costly shipwrecks occurred along the West Coast of Vancouver Island.  One shipwreck in particular was so horrific, tragic and unbelievable that it forced the creation of a trail along the coast, which ...
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Victoria Hiking Trails

Victoria has a seemingly endless number of amazing hiking trails.  Most take you to wild and beautiful Pacific Ocean views and others take you to tranquil lakes in beautiful BC Coastal Rainforest wilderness.  Regional Parks and Provincial Parks are everywhere you turn ...
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Whistler Hiking Trails

Whistler is an amazing place to hike. Looking at a map of Whistler you see an extraordinary spider web of hiking trails. Easy trails, moderate trails and challenging hiking trails are all available. Another marvellous thing about Whistler is that Garibaldi Provincial Park ...
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