4 West Coast Trail RatingThe campsite at Michigan Creek is the first or last campsite you will encounter on the West Coast Trail. First if you begin your hike at the Pachena trailhead(hiking south) and last if you begin in Port Renfrew(hiking north). The 12.1 kilometres(7.5 miles) between the Pachena trailhead and Michigan Creek is fairly easy and flat. Compared to the rest of the West Coast Trail, this section is wonderfully relaxing. At a brisk pace, you should be able to hike this section in a little over 3 hours.

  • West Coast Trail ProThe last/first campsite on the West Coast Trail
  • West Coast Trail ProFun to meet hikers on their first or last day on the trail
  • West Coast Trail ProThe trail to Pachena is relaxing, fast & easy
  • West Coast Trail ProThe Michigan shipwreck is close enough to touch!
  • West Coast Trail ConAlways crowded and chaotic with campers
  • West Coast Trail ConThe beach is not as pretty as other WCT beaches
  • West Coast Trail ConHeavy rain makes Darling River hard to cross
  • West Coast Trail ConDriftwood firewood runs low late in the season
  • West Coast Trail ConThe beach smells a bit musty at low tide
  • West Coast Trail ConSo busy that the beach can look like a refugee camp

West Coast Trail Campsites

Pachena Bay Campground West Coast Trail CampsitesMichigan Creek at 12k West Coast Trail CampsitesDarling River at 14k West Coast Trail CampsitesOrange Juice Creek at 15k West Coast Trail CampsitesTsocowis Creek at 16.5k West Coast Trail CampsitesKlanawa River at 23k West Coast Trail CampsitesTsusiat Falls at 25k West Coast Trail CampsitesCribs Creek at 42k West Coast Trail CampsitesCarmanah Creek at 46k West Coast Trail CampsitesBonilla Creek at 48k West Coast Trail CampsitesWalbran Creek at 53k West Coast Trail CampsitesCullite Cove at 58k West Coast Trail CampsitesCamper Bay at 62k Thrasher Cove - West Coast Trail CampsitesThrasher Cove at 70k Pacheedaht Campground Hiking Route West Coast TrailDay 1 Pachena to Darling Hiking Route West Coast TrailDay 2 Darling to Tsusiat Hiking Route West Coast TrailDay 3 Tsusiat to Carmanah Hiking Route West Coast TrailDay 4 Carmanah to Walbran Hiking Route West Coast TrailDay 5 Walbran to Cullite Hiking Route West Coast TrailDay 6 Cullite to Camper Hiking Route West Coast TrailDay 7 Camper to Thrasher Shipwreck on the West Coast TrailPrologue Shipwreck on the West Coast Trail1: The West Coast Trail Shipwreck on the West Coast Trail2: When to Hike & Fees Shipwreck on the West Coast Trail3: Trailheads Shipwreck on the West Coast Trail4: Getting There Shipwreck on the West Coast Trail5: Considerations Shipwreck on the West Coast Trail6: Campsites Shipwreck on the West Coast Trail7: Shipwrecks Shipwreck on the West Coast Trail8: Routes

At a more relaxed pace, and stopping at the Pachena Point Lighthouse, you will take 4 or 5 hours from the trailhead. Michigan Beach is not terribly pretty, though the Michigan shipwreck boiler is quite a sight. The campsite is busy and you should pick one of the neighbouring campsites. Darling River, Orange Juice Creek and Tsocowis Creek campsites are all better than Michigan. The Michigan Creek campsite has the nice and wonderfully unimposing amenities that you can't help being impressed with. You won't find plastic or dirty outhouses, that you tend to find at other national parks. On the West Coast Trail you find and endlessly varied style of large wooden outhouses. Solidly built and ornamented over the years with curiosities washed up on the beach. The outhouses at Michigan are raised up as most are due to tanks underneath, so the toilets themselves are on what can only be described as the second floor. They open up to a walkway that feels like a sundeck as it entices you to stop and enjoy the view, until you remind yourself that you are outside a toilet. The railing to the sundeck/walkway is partly constructed of a thick anchor chain stretching across the edge. Dozens of buoys, old ship ropes, and even an ancient life buoy adorn the railings.

Michigan Creek Campsite Map v3

The outhouses on the West Coast Trail are always a nice variation of this, but the unexpectedly impressive thing you find is the toilets themselves. Surprisingly clean and roomy, they are large inside and constructed of very nice, thick and natural looking wood beams. The toilet seats are simple and tidy, and you often find a large, open wooden bench with cedar wood shavings inside. A large ladle is there and this simple and beautifully scented trick invites you to scoop a bunch of shavings into the toilet.

Extraordinary West Coast Trail Outhouses

More often then not on the West Coast Trail, the outhouses smell like a fresh, clean forest, instead of an outhouse. Extraordinary!  Looks like an elaborate treehouse instead of a toilet!

Michigan Creek Campsite Outhouses

West Coast Trail outhouses are fantastically clean and organized.  Beautiful, fragrant cedar construction with cedar shavings to sprinkle into the toilet after use.  

Amazing Outhouses West Coast Trail

The Michigan Creek Campsite on the West Coast Trail

WCT Campsite IconYou will find a few clearings in the forest above the beach ideal for tents as well as room for dozens of tents along the beach. Though the beach is not terribly nice lower down, up next to the forest it is fairly nice. Soft, clean sand, plenty of driftwood all around and great areas to smooth out for a tent. When the tide goes out, the rock shelf is exposed and is a bit ugly with its green slimy cover of sea life. Certainly not inviting a swim like you will find at most other beaches along the trail. The campsite is wonderfully wild feeling and minimalistic. Hardly any unnatural constructions beyond the outhouses, food cache boxes and the hilarious buoys, washed in from the ocean and hung near the beach entrance/exits.

Not the Nicest Beach at Michigan

Michigan Creek Campsite

The Alaskan Shipwreck at 4km

Shipwreck Icon West Coast TrailCertainly the highlight of Michigan Creek is the extraordinary remnant of the Michigan shipwreck trapped on the rocky shelf revealed by low tide. The huge boiler of the Michigan is so large that it sits ominously in a depression on the rocky shelf near where it drops off to deeper ocean. From the sandy shoreline, this rusty hulk sits about 70 metres away as large waves constantly pound it. You can easily walk out to it when the tide is low and get a close look at just a couple metres away. Getting close enough to touch it will require a short and cold plunge into the ocean with swirling water all around.

Michigan Creek West Coast Trail

Michigan Shipwreck Boiler

Michigan Shipwreck Boiler

The Michigan shipwreck 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 Juan de Fuca Strait, she collided with Vancouver Island in the middle of the night.

Michigan Shipwreck West Coast Trail

The shoreline was relatively easy to escape to, and the 25 people on board managed to get ashore. Later, when the seas calmed the crew was able to retrieve a boat from the wreck and rowed 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 Lighthouse. A testament to how wild and difficult it was then as compared to now.  The Michigan shipwreck continued here...

Should you camp at Michigan Creek?

No, there are better options close by. If you are heading north to the trailhead and heavy rain is expected you may want to camp at Michigan so you don't have to get across Darling River as the river can grow to a challenging size to cross after rainfall.  Usually you can cross it where it fans out and flows into the ocean. Often it is just a couple centimetres deep. After heavy rainfall it swells to a torrent that can be challenging to cross. Darling River is a much nicer place to camp because it is less popular and sits next to the remarkable Darling Falls. A beautiful little hideaway, just a short walk up Darling River. Somehow every guidebook, website and blog on the West Coast Trail misses this little paradise. Certainly the highlight of the first(or last) day on the trail!

Amazing Darling Falls

Darling River Beach Campsite

More West Coast Trail Campsites Near Michigan Creek

Darling River Campsite at 14km

7 West Coast Trail RatingJust 2 kilometres past the popular and chaotic Michigan Creek campsite you will come to the Darling River crossing. Depending on the rainfall of previous days, you may walk through the river just a couple centimetres deep or thigh deep. When it is deep and fast moving may find it difficult to get across without slipping or getting knocked over by the current. Without significant rain, you will barely get your shoes wet crossing. After you cross, you will have arrived at the Darling River campsite. Mostly nestled along the treeline, the Darling River campsite is relatively quiet compared to Michigan Creek. The significant draw to Darling River is not the campsite, but rather the idyllic waterfalls that can be found just a few hundred metres up the river. Swimming at Darling Falls is always chilly, but the serenity of this little hideaway makes you forget the water temperature and drink in the emerald green water and rainforest surrounding you. 

Darling Beach West Coast Trail

From the beach, over the sound of the crashing waves you can just barely hear Darling Falls crashing in the distance. Following the smooth, rocky shore of Darling River you find yourself increasingly surrounded by forest. 

Darling River West Coast Trail

Darling River meanders through a captivating collection of driftwood and deadfall.

Darling Falls West Coast Trail

Darling Falls West Coast Trail

Darling River Campsite Map v8

Darling River campsite continued here...

 Orange Juice Creek Campsite at 15km

5 West Coast Trail RatingJust a kilometre past the Darling River campsite you will come to another beach campsite at Orange Juice CreekOrange Juice Creek is not terribly pretty and gets its name from the intensely, orange juice coloured water that crashes through a tangled morass of driftwood logs. If you aren't keen on swimming and/or washing at Darling Falls, Orange Juice Creek is a good alternative. Much quieter than Michigan Creek and a bit quieter than Darling River, you will find a more relaxed surrounding at the campsite at Orange Juice Creek. Another less obvious aspect of Orange Juice Creek that makes it worth camping at is the small, but very livable sea cave. Some find it charming, others find it spooky. At the very least it is worth a look. A small fire in the middle, surrounded by driftwood logs for seats, in horribly, wet weather, this cave is paradise! 

Orange Juice Creek Campsite Cave

Orange Juice Creek Campsite Cave

Orange Juice Creek Cave Inside

Orange Juice Creek Crossing

Crossing Orange Juice Creek involves a fun scramble over a huge tangle of driftwood and deadfall. Winter storms cast huge logs up onto the beach and the result is this wild mess of wonderfully chaotic logs that you have to climb along and over to cross this creek that gets its name from its dark, tannin coloured water. 

Orange Juice Creek Crossing

Orange Juice Creek Campsite Map v8

Orange Juice Creek campsite continued here...

Tsocowis Creek Campsite at 16.5km

6 West Coast Trail RatingThe Tsocowis Creek campsite at 16.5k has a decent beach with an excellent water source. There is plenty of room for tents along the beach amongst the driftwood logs. You have the same amenities here as other West Coast Trail campsites such as deluxe outhouses and animal proof food storage boxes. Tsocowis is home to one of the West Coast Trail guard cabin's. In 1940 the survivors of the Varsity shipwreck survived by crawling their way to the shelf below what is now called Valencia Bluffs. They now found themselves on a steep shelf that they could not climb. Out of the wreckage they managed to survive exposure and construct a ladder up the cliff and found the trail that hikers now call the West Coast Trail. The three survivors made their way to Tsocowis Creek and found the Tsocowis cabin occupied by lineman who fortunately was there. The three were later picked up from Tsocowis Beach. Today the shipwreck's huge metal winch rusts in a crevice at the foot of Valencia Bluffs. Hikers tend to pass this campsite and push on to the end of the trail(or the next campsite if heading south).

Tsocowis Creek West Coast Trail

Tsocowis Creek Campsite Map v7

Tsocowis Creek campsite continued here...

West Coast Trail Campsites

The Tsocowis Creek campsite at 16.5k has a decent beach with an excellent water source. Most hikers pass through the beach here on their way to Michigan if heading north or Tsusiat Falls if hiking south. The beach at Tsocowis is fairly decent and there is plenty ...
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Carmanah Creek slowly flows through this wonderfully massive channel that cuts deep into the sand out to the ocean. There is a cable car crossing that connects to the forest on either side of the creek. Most West Coast Trail hikers pass the campsite here without ...
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Just a kilometre past the Darling River campsite you will come to another beach campsite at Orange Juice Creek. Orange Juice Creek is not terribly pretty and gets its name from the intensely, orange juice coloured water that crashes through a tangled morass of ...
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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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Shipwrecks Near Michigan Beach on the West Coast Trail

The Sarah Shipwreck at 7km

Shipwreck Icon West Coast TrailThe captain of the Sarah sighted the recently built Carmanah Point Lighthouse and mistook it for the Cape Flattery 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. They were rescued by one of the many indigenous tribes residing on Vancouver Island. It seems safe to assume that it was the Huu-ay-aht First Nations which resided there, as they do now, at Pachena Bay. The Huu-ay-aht brought the shipwreck survivors to a trader's post where they found passage to Victoria on a local schooner. 16 of the crew of 18 and the captain's wife and baby survived the Sarah shipwreck.  

The Sarah shipwreck continued here...

The Becherdass-Ambiadass Shipwreck at 8km

Shipwreck Icon West Coast TrailBuilt in 1864 the 1376 ton, 3 masted ship, Becherdass-Ambiadass was wrecked on the rocky shore only a half mile from Pachena Point Lighthouse. This British ship was returning from Shanghai to Moodyville (now North Vancouver) when Cape Beale Lighthouse was sighted. As she neared Vancouver Island early morning fog blinded her and under full sail collided with the abruptly rocky shore near the 8km 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.  

The Becherdass-Ambiadass shipwreck continued here...

The Uzbekistan Shipwreck at 13.8km

Shipwreck Icon West Coast TrailThe Uzbekistan was a steel steamship of 2569 tons. Built in 1937 in France and became a shipwreck on April 1st, 1943. A Russian ship, the Uzbekistan was part of the lend-lease program during World War II, where the US shipped war materials to Russia. She left Portland for Seattle to pick up a load of war materials destined for Vladivostok. On April 1st 1943 the Uzbekistan encountered stormy weather and bad visibility, mistaking the light at Swiftsure Bank for that of Umatilla Reef. She steered toward what was thought to be Juan de Fuca Strait. Because of the strong northerly current, she was far north of her supposed location. At 11pm the Uzbekistan collided with the the rocky shelf just down from today's Darling River. The entire crew made it to shore safely and made camp. They then managed to hike their way to Bamfield and were eventually picked up by a Royal Canadian Navy ship. Today, if you are lucky you can spot the Uzbekistan's boilers and parts of her propulsion machinery at very low tide at the edge of the reef. You will more easily spot pieces of steel scattered around the mouth of Darling River.  

The Uzbekistan shipwreck continued here...

The Varsity Shipwreck at 17.6km

Shipwreck Icon West Coast TrailJust 4 kilometres past the Uzbekistan shipwreck you will pass by the final resting place of the Varsity. The Varsity was a small fishing boat of 90 tons, returning to Puget Sound from California on February 5th, 1940. In bad weather and stormy seas, she abruptly struck the shore, just a kilometre past, what is today, Tsocowis Creek on the West Coast Trail. The Varsity had overrun her position due to the fast northerly current. The crew were so hopelessly lost that they believed their position to still be in American waters, instead of way up on the coast of Vancouver Island. Unfortunately their distress call gave their position as several kilometres south of their actual position. Of the crew of seven, three survived by crawling their way to the shelf below what is now called Valencia Bluffs. They now found themselves on a steep shelf that they could not climb. Out of the wreckage they managed to survive exposure and construct a ladder up the cliff and found the trail that hikers now call the West Coast Trail. The three survivors made their way to Tsocowis Creek and found the Tsocowis cabin occupied by lineman who fortunately was there. The three were later picked up from Tsocowis Beach. Today the shipwreck's huge metal winch rusts in a crevice at the foot of Valencia Bluffs.  

Varsity shipwreck continued here...

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