The Janet Cowan Shipwreck on the West Coast TrailYou will pass the Dare shipwreck at the 39 kilometre mark of the West Coast Trail. The Graveyard of the Pacific claimed this 3 masted, 269 ton schooner on December 23rd, 1890. The Dare sailed out of San Francisco in ballast for Tacoma to take on a load of lumber.  In the middle of the winter, stormy season along this coast, the Dare was caught in a typically brutal storm.

 

The crew fought the high winds and tumultuous seas driving them towards the unforgiving shore of Vancouver Island. The Dare was smashed on the rock shore just three kilometres west of Carmanah Point. The crew, unhurt from the impact of the ship was able to get ashore relatively easily. Luckily for the crew they were soon met by locals from the Ditidaht First Nation that had a settlement just down the beach. The good folks that ferry West Coast Trail hikers across Nitinaht Narrows are likely descendants of the rescuers of the crew of the Dare. They were transported to Victoria by canoe while their ship was left to be smashed on the rocks. Today there are no visible remnants of the Dare shipwreck except one marvellous reminder of this brutal coastline, the ship's anchor. The ship crashed onto the rocks quite a distance from the present location of the anchor. However with no other shipwreck contenders in the area, the anchor West Coast Trail hikers stumble past here is almost certainly the anchor from the Dare. You will see it just past the 38 kilometre mark of the trail laying on the rocks in plain view. Dare Point begins just as you pass the anchor(if hiking from the Pachena trailhead). Further along you will come to Dare Beach, a nice, though narrow patch of beach in an area almost entirely rocky, unforgiving coastline.

Dare Shipwreck Map West Coast Trail

Shipwrecks Near the Dare (KM39)

The Santa Rita Shipwreck Near KM37

The Santa Rita Shipwreck -West Coast Trail Graveyard of the PacificThe Graveyard of the Pacific is represented here well with shipwrecks. Within sight of the Dare's anchor you will see white water crashing over a shallow, would-be island just offshore. This is where the Santa Rita, a steel steam ship met her end in the winter of 1923. On February 15th, 1923 at 520am, this 235 foot long, 1600 ton ship collided head on with the the small island reef just a few hundred metres from the beach. The Santa Rita was sailing in from San Pedro, California, in ballast for a port in the Puget Sound. In stormy weather and blindly navigating in poor visibility, the Carmanah Point Lighthouse was mistaken for the Cape Flattery Lighthouse on Tatoosh Island. The Carmanah Point Lighthouse is along the West Coast Trail and the Cape Flattery Lighthouse is 24.5 kilometres across Juan de Fuca Strait in the United States! The crew turned into what they thought was Juan de Fuca Strait and keeping the Cape Flattery Lighthouse on their right. Unfortunately they were about 20 kilometres north of what they thought, and were in fact keeping the Carmanah Point Lighthouse to their right and sailing directly at Vancouver Island. At 520am on February 15th, 1923 the Santa Rita collided head on into a small offshore reef just a few hundred metres from the West Coast Trail. The large ship, must have been sailing at quite a speed owing to the crew's reckoning that they were entering Juan de Fuca Strait. The sudden impact must have been horrific, loud, and completely unwarned. In the next few hours the entire crew of 30 escaped the wreck via breeches buoy. A breeches buoy is a rope based rescue system where a line runs from the ship to the shore and survivors ride in a flotation ring and leg harness.

Santa Rita shipwreck continued here...

The Skagit Shipwreck Near KM34

The Skagit Shipwreck - West Coast Trail Graveyard of the PacificThe rocky point of land just beyond where the Santa Rita wrecked, the huge, 3 masted barkentine, the Skagit collided dramatically into the rocks. The crew mistook the Cape Flattery lighthouse, several miles south of here for the Carmanah lighthouse. Blinded by fog and in stormy seas, the Skagit collided headlong onto the brutal, rocky coast of Vancouver Island. Her anchor, as with the Dare's anchor lays on the beach here as a tombstone of sorts for this tragedy that killed the captain and cook of that ship. The adventurous and determined may be able to find more remnants of the Skagit down at the foot of the reef, just below the low tide level.

Skagit shipwreck continued here...

The Raita Shipwreck at 33km

The Raita Shipwreck - West Coast Trail Graveyard of the PacificOn the next point of land past the Skagit, yet another shipwreck, the Raita met her end. A few remnants of this century old shipwreck can be seen today, however the West Coast Trail bends far inland here and getting a closer look would be a bit challenging and take a fair bit of hiking. The Raita was a French registered ship of of Papete, French Polynesia. She was loaded with lumber from Port Gamble, Washington heading to deliver it to Tahiti. Shortly after setting sail, she began taking on water. The strong winds and current overpowered the Raita and she was forced perilously close to Vancouver Island. In a desperate attempt to regain control, the crew began dumping their cargo into the sea and dropped her anchor. The winds picked up and snapped the anchor chain. The crew seeing the rocky shoreline coming near, launched a lifeboat and escaped. They managed to row safely to the Carmanah Point Lighthouse and were soon picked up by a passing CPR steamship. The Raita was bashed into the shore at Whyac Point, which at the time was known as Mission Point. At low tide she was high and dry on the rocks, completely out of the water. She was wrecked here on January 18th, 1925. Some of the old ship's hull timbers can still be seen today, a century later!

Raita shipwreck continued here...

Campsites Near the Dare (KM39)

Cribs Creek Campsite at 42km

4 West Coast Trail RatingThere is one West Coast Trail campsite that is somewhat close to the Dare shipwreck. Cribs Creek campsite is just a couple kilometres toward Carmanah Point. Though camping along the beach in the other(north) direction would be very nice, there are signs indicating not to due to the abundance of wildlife in the area. This lovely, long sandy beach that you walk along after you emerge from the deep forest after you cross the Cheewhat River reminds you of Long Beach near Tofino. The campsite at Cribs Creek is in the opposite direction. Due to there being few campsite options on this stretch of the West Coast Trail, you will always find Cribs Creek busy with tents and tired campers.

The Crowded and Ugly Cribs Creek Campsite

Cribs Creek Campsite

Cribs Creek Campsite Map

Cribs Creek campsite continued here...

Carmanah Creek Campsite at 46km

9 West Coast Trail RatingCarmanah 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 taking a moment to look at the nice beach.   Plenty of room for plenty of tents on the wide, sand beach. This is one of the beaches that makes you drop your pack, sit on the warm sand and gaze out at the ocean dumbfounded for minutes at a time. The West Coast Trail is something special! There is no shortage of great spots on the beach to put up your tent. You can even put up your tent along the river on the lovely sandy/rocky bank. Everybody camps at the unimpressive Cribs Creek campsite just 4 kilometres away, leaving Carmanah Creek a serene little hideaway. This is one of the campsites where you will want to stay for days, so you might want to include that in your itinerary! There are the usual West Coast Trail campsite amenities at Carmanah Creek, including some clearings in the forest for tents. The beach is ideal for camping, and on a sunny day, you will find yourself wandering down the lovely beach towards the Carmanah Lighthouse. Chez Monique's is along the beach between the lighthouse and Carmanah Creek. There you will find a restaurant along the beach with burgers and drinks. Seems a bit strange to encounter a restaurant in the middle of the West Coast Trail, but it has been here for years and will likely remain. For some, Chez Monique's is a highlight of the trail, for others it is an annoying bit of civilisation in the midst of the wild beauty of the west coast of Vancouver Island.

Amazing and Quiet Carmanah Creek Campsite

Carmanah Creek West Coast Trail

Carmanah Creek Campsite Map v7

Carmanah Creek campsite continued here...

West Coast Trail Shipwrecks

The Uzbekistan was a steel steamship of 2569 tons. Built in 1937 in France and became a shipwreck on ...
Read more
The Puritan was a 4 masted schooner of 614 tons sailing inbound from San Francisco in ballast. She ...
Read more
 

The Valencia Disaster

After the McCarthy boat was launched successfully and cleared the breakers at around 9am Tuesday January 23rd the captain, crew and passengers on the Valencia confidently expected men to soon appear ...
Read more
This is a much more accurate list of the victims of the Valencia shipwreck than all the other lists currently found online and in print.  The passenger and crew list given by the owners of the ...
Read more
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 ...
Read more
There were just 38 survivors of the Valencia shipwreck.  An estimated 140 people lost their lives on the ship over the course of 36 hours.  The 38 survivors escaped the ship at different times and ...
Read more

Best West Coast Trail Sights

West Coast Trail Guide

There 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 ...
Read more
West 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 ...
Read more
There 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. ...
Read more
The 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 ...
Read more

Amazing Whistler Hiking Trails

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 ...
Read more

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 ...
Read more

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 ...
Read more