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

West Coast Trail CampsitesMichigan Creek at 12km  West Coast Trail CampsitesDarling River at 14km  West Coast Trail CampsitesOrange Juice Creek at 15km  West Coast Trail CampsitesTsocowis Creek at 16.5km  West Coast Trail CampsitesKlanawa River at 23km  West Coast Trail CampsitesTsusiat Falls at 25km  West Coast Trail CampsitesCribs Creek at 42km  West Coast Trail CampsitesCarmanah Creek at 46km  West Coast Trail CampsitesBonilla Creek at 48km  West Coast Trail CampsitesWalbran Creek at 53km  West Coast Trail CampsitesCullite Cove at 58km  West Coast Trail CampsitesCamper Bay at 62km  Thrasher Cove - West Coast Trail CampsitesThrasher Cove at 70km

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

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 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! 

Campsites Near Michigan Creek (KM12)

Darling Falls at the Darling River CampsiteKM14: Darling River Campsite

Just 2km 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. 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 wonderful in the emerald green water surrounded by rainforest. Darling River campsite continued here...

 

Orange Juice Creek CampsiteKM15: Orange Juice Creek Campsite

Just 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. Orange Juice Creek is the third(or third to last) campsite on the West Coast Trail. Michigan Creek, Darling RiverOrange Juice Creek and Tsocowis Creek are all along a fairly continuous beach that stretches for 5 kilometres. All are easily within a days hike from or to the Pachena trailhead. Orange Juice Creek campsite continued here...

 

Tsocowis Creek CampsiteKM16: Tsocowis Creek Campsite

The Tsocowis Creek campsite at 16.5km 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 of room for tents along the beach amongst the driftwood logs. Tsocowis Beach has a lot of interesting features to explore.  Shipwreck debris, stunning sandstone cliffs with a wonderful sea cave. Tsocowis Falls brings excellent, fresh water just steps from your tent. Ladders near the campsite take you up above and over Tsocowis Falls. The view from the top of the ladders and on the bridge are fantastic. Tsocowis Creek campsite continued here...

 

 

Best West Coast Trail Sights & Highlights

Best West Coast Trail Sights

West Coast Trail Campsites

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 Bonilla Creek campsite at 48km on the West Coast Trail is easy to miss, as it looks very unassuming from the beach. Most hikers pass by Bonilla Falls, which is nestled against a small cliff at the edge of a suddenly deep forest. And the forest hides a nice ...
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West Coast Trail A to Z

The Pachena Point Lighthouse is an interesting bit of west coast history that you can visit. You can only see the grounds outside and not in the lighthouse itself. The view down from the 100 foot cliffs surrounding the lighthouse are beautiful and a vivid look at how ...
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Juan de Fuca Strait is the 154km long and 16km to 32km wide stretch of ocean that separates Vancouver Island from the northwest corner of Washington State. The international boundary between Canada and the United State runs down the centre of the strait. It was named ...
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William Philip Daykin was the first lightkeeper of the Carmanah Point Lighthouse from 1891 to 1912. In books and newspapers he is either written as Phil Daykin or W.P. Daykin. He and his wife Helen Strelley Marriott Daykin had five sons, Charles Thomas Daykin, ...
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The West Coast Trail by Day

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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Amazing Whistler Hiking Trails

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Victoria Hiking Trails

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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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