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. 

These extraordinary falls are just a couple hundred metres from the beach, yet never received a mention in West Coast Trail guidebooks or online until recently.  Most online accounts of the West Coast Trail are annoyingly vague and simply rushed accounts of a forced march through a difficult trail and over describing campsites, while glossing over the scenery and natural beauty of the area. Darling Falls is one of many wonderful sights along the West Coast Trail. The Logan Creek crossing is another. An elaborate set of ladders and a brand new bridge take you across this deep gorge at a dizzying height. Owen Point is another extraordinary sight along the WCT. An amazing ocean carved cave is found under the point and if you catch it on a sunny day it lights up with a fantastic array of colours. Tsusiat Falls is probably the most well known feature of the West Coast Trail. The wide falls pour onto the beach into a big pool carved out of the sand and you instantly want to dive in. Just down the beach from Tsusiat Falls is Hole in the Wall, a huge wall of sandstone jutting out into the ocean with a massive hole through it. This strikingly beautiful monument takes a while to explore as you wander through and up over the gap to see another perspective of the crashing ocean below. Walbran Creek, Carmanah Creek and Klanawa River have amazing beaches as well as cable car crossings. They places also have campsites that are excellent and overlooked by most other hikers. Valencia Bluffs give you a vantage point over the reefs far below where the Valencia shipwreck, the most brutal wreck in the Graveyard of the Pacific. These are just a few of the countless fantastic sights along the West Coast Trail.


Pachena Bay to Michigan Beach 0-12km

Highlights of this section include the gorgous sandy beach at Pachena Bay, the amazing tall ladders, the dramatically beautiful rainforest with enormous, mangled trees splayed across the trail, the stunning ocean views through occasional gaps in the forest, the first of many wildlife sightings, the wonderful view of Sea Lion Haul Out Rock, the up close look at Pachena Point Lighthouse and the first visible shipwreck at Michigan Beach.

West Coast Trail Best Sights: Tall Ladders!

Tall ladders appear right from the start of the West Coast Trail as you immediately find out that the the official 75km length of the trail doesn't factor in the distance you will be covering up and down, or for that matter the constant zig-zagging through the rainforest.

Tall Ladders West Coast Trail Best Sights

West Coast Trail Best Sights: Spectacular Deadfall

The incredible spectacle and variety of deadfall you encounter on the West Coast Trail is amazing. Winter storms cause enormous trees to crash down over the trail and each one is remarkably different and beautiful. Trees ripped apart, snapped in half or toppled from their roots lay across the trail and make quite a spectacle showing the savage beauty of a West Coast rainforest. 

Best West Coast Trail Sights Rainforest Deadfall

West Coast Trail Best Sights: Sea Lion Haul Out Rock

Sea Lion Haul Out Rock appears through the trees 9.5km from the Pachena trailhead. You get a towering view of the huge reef that they call home for part of the year. Steller sea lions are amphibious and can comfortably exist in water or on land. When in water they tend to be in search of food and haul out onto land to mate, raise their pups, molt and rest. Sea Lion Haul Out Rock is exactly the type of haul out location they look for. This location is easy to access, remote, inaccessible by land predators such as bears and ocean predators such as killer whales. This location also provides a constant cool wind which is necessary to thermoregulate their bodies which are adapted to withstand living in cold water.

Sea Lion Haul Out Rock WCT Sights

West Coast Trail Best Sights: Pachena Point Lighthouse

The Pachena Point Lighthouse is a great sight along the West Coast Trail just past Sea Lion Haul Out Rock. You can wander around the actual lighthouse and get a look at the view from high above the ocean. You can't go in the lighthouse, but it is still well worth the short side trail to get there. At the edge of the cliff a cable extends down to an island reef surrounded by churning waves. This is used to transport things up and down from the reef if the ocean is calm enough for a boat to pull into that little gap under the cable to attach a line to pull freight up.

Pachena Point Lighthouse Cable Pulley

Pachena Point was originally named Beghadoss Point after the Becherdass-Ambiadass shipwreck that occurred here on July 27th, 1879. The name Beghadoss was the original name of the Becherdass-Ambiadass. When the lighthouse was completed in 1907 the name of the point and lighthouse were changed to Pachena Point and Pachena Point Lighthouse. The name is thought to come from the word pacheenah. A word that the Indigenous hunters along the coast used for seafoam. It is also reported that Pachena was easier for Canadians to pronounce than Beghadoss. It is a stark reminder to how treacherous the Graveyard of the Pacific is here, that despite the newly constructed lighthouse, shipwrecks continued to occur in the area. The Soquel wrecked near here in 1909, the Varsity in 1940 and the Uzbekistan in 1943!

West Coast Trail Best Sights: Michigan Shipwreck!

In the midst of the reef in front of Michigan Beach, the first campsite along the West Coast Trail, you encounter the boiler of the Michigan shipwreck! This huge rusting hulk has been here since the Michigan wrecked here in 1893.

Best West Coast Trail Sights Michigan Shipwreck

Michigan Creek to Orange Juice Creek 12-15km

Highlights of this section are the gorgeous Darling Falls, the frequent bear visitors, the increasingly beautiful beaches, Orange Juice Cave and Orange Juice Creek.

West Coast Trail Best Sights: Amazing Darling Falls!

Darling Falls is nestled in a rainforest paradise. Hidden from the beach and overlooked by almost everyone, the falls are amazing and the emerald pool is spectacular to dive into. Darling River is also impressive as it winds its way to the ocean past insanely huge driftwood deadfall that evidently came crashing in during winter storms.

Best West Coast Trail Sights Darling Falls

West Coast Trail Best Sights: Wildlife Encounters!

Darling River is popular with bears and in past years the campsite has been temporarily closed for a few weeks. Encountering a bear is always exciting and reminds you about the wild and remoteness of this incredible place.

Best West Coast Trail Sights Wildlife Encounters

West Coast Trail Best Sights: Orange Juice Cave

Orange Juice Cave hides along the beach and feels quite unusual to stand inside. Surrounded by colourful, polished smooth sandstone with decades old graffiti carved into it. A fire ring in the middle seems very inviting, especially if the outside world is raining.

Best West Coast Trail Sights Orange Juice Cave

West Coast Trail Best Sights: Orange Juice Creek

Orange Juice Creek is a bizarrely orange coloured creek that flows through and even more bizarre collection of huge driftwood piled high on the beach. The strange colour comes from tannins that seep out of the rainforest into the creeks that feed Orange Juice Creek and the spectacular collection of driftwood comes from winter storms. What a sight that must be to see the ocean fling these huge logs onto the beach. Orange Juice Creek is one of many hilariously bizarre water crossings along the West Coast Trail.

Best West Coast Trail Sights Orange Juice Creek

Orange Juice Creek to Valencia Bluffs 15-18km

Highlights of this section are the up close look at the Tsocowis shipwreck sprawled across the beach, Tsocowis Creek and its cute and hidden beach and campsite, spectacularly brutalized sections of boardwalk wrecked by storms in the deep forest, the stunning viewpoint at Valencia Bluffs, sight of the most famous shipwreck along the West Coast Trail, the Valencia.

West Coast Trail Best Sights: Tsocowis Beach Shipwreck

The beautiful, soft sandy Tsocowis Beach has the remnants of a shipwreck unlike all the other shipwrecks along the West Coast Trail. Almost all the other shipwrecks are hidden from view under the waves or only fragments remaining and hard to find. This one is sprawled high along the beach and is gradually sinking into the sand.

Best West Coast Trail Sights Tsocowis Shipwreck

West Coast Trail Best Sights: Tsocowis Falls

Tsocowis Falls comes out of a narrow cliff in a tremendous torrent like it is being blasted out of a fire hose. It has blasted a small pool into the sand and then flows through a channel in the sand to the ocean. 

Best West Coast Trail Tsocowis Falls

West Coast Trail Best Sights: Tsocowis Bridge

The bridge above Tsocowis Creek gives you a great view of the beach below. In the opposite direction you see Tsocowis Creek wind its way through a beautiful, smooth gap in the cliff surrounded by rainforest. A boardwalk continues from the bridge into the forest and you get a couple more glimpses of Tsocowis Beach through the trees.

Best West Coast Trail Sights Tsocowis Beach Bridge View

West Coast Trail Best Sights: End of the Trail?

As you hike deeper and deeper into the rainforest you are startled to come to an abrupt end to the trail where it appears to end looking out to treetops. It is only when you walk right up to the edge that you see the top of a ridiculously steep ladder down. It is quite a thing to encounter a trail that seems to abruptly end with a view of treetops!

Best West Coast Trail Sights Trail End

West Coast Trail Best Sights: Insane Ladder Sections

It is not just one insanely long ladder, but several ladders meeting at small platforms to connect to the next one. Ladder sections like this one really emphasize how brutal the West Coast Trail is and how much more difficult it was before the ladders. 

Best West Coast Trail Sights Tall Ladders

Halfway down you wonder how this absurdly steep section could possibly be the best route through the forest for the West Coast Trail to follow. It evidently is the best route through this crazy terrain and you can't help but wonder what do the other potential routes look like that were not chosen because this one was better? The picture above is looking up and the picture below is looking down!

Looking Down West Coast Trail Ladders

West Coast Trail Best Sights: Boardwalk Wreckage

If the crazy ladders don't highlight enough the wildness of the route the West Coast Trail takes through the rainforest, then the boardwalks around the 17km mark of the trail should. The boardwalk here looks to be wrecked by falling trees every year. You can tell by the way the previous years of damage have been repaired or rebuilt to account for the new enormous trees sprawled across the trail. Often you can see sections of boardwalk still crushed under trees, with a new section of boardwalk built around the enormous tree with a section chain sawed out to accommodate the new boardwalk. Through the gap you then see another huge, more recently fallen tree across the trail. This time you find that the trail maintainers gave up fighting the forest and just repositioned the boardwalk as a ramp up and over the tree. Hilarious!

Best West Coast Trail Sights Wrecked Boardwalk

West Coast Trail Best Sights: Valencia Bluffs

Just past the 18km mark of the trail you find yourself skirting along the edge of a steep cliff that looks down on flat reefs, swirling whitewater and huge chunks of the cliff scattered at the bottom. Somewhere under the waves lies the remnants of the most brutal shipwreck in the Graveyard of the Pacific. In the middle of the winter in 1906 the passenger ship the Valencia crashed into a reef here about 30 metres from the base of the cliffs below. In the middle of the night with huge waves breaking over the reefs and the half submerged Valencia, several lifeboats were launched. One after the other they were smashed to pieces against the ship or the reef, or flipped over by the breakers. The passengers on the boats were mostly women and children and they all disappeared in a instant under the waves.

Best West Coast Trail Sights Valencia Bluffs

West Coast Trail Best Sights: Cliffs Below Valencia Bluffs

A few men somehow managed to survive from these boats and scramble to the base of the cliffs. Possibly the one pictured here or a nearby cliff similarly brutal. Soaking wet and freezing on the exposed shore they waited for the light of the morning before attempting to climb the cliffs. One after another, as survivors watched from the Valencia watched, they started up the vertical cliff and one after another they fell to their deaths. The horrific story of the Valencia goes on like this with one heartbreaking escape attempt after another fails miserably until over the course of 38 hours most of the passengers and crew would suffer horribly prolonged exposure, clinging to the sinking ship and getting battered by waves and freezing rain. Survivors had to watch as waves would occasionally crash over the ship and carry a few people away that were too weak to hold on. None that remained on the Valencia survived as it was hit by one final crushing breaker that flung the 20-30 remaining survivors into the crashing sea. Just 38 would survive the Valencia shipwreck and an estimated 140 would die.

Best West Coast Trail Sights Valencia

Looking at this picture it is terrifying to imagine crawling out of the freezing ocean and finding yourself in a place like this with no escape. Having to choose between freezing to death slowly or climbing an impossible looking cliff for a chance to survive.

The Call Newspaper, January 26th, 1906

January 26 1906 The Call

Valencia Bluffs to Klanawa River 18-22km

Highlights of this section are views of some remnants of logging history along the trail, a derelict grader and a donkey engine, challenging rainforest trail ending abruptly at a steep ladder down to the beach, a shipwreck relic of a large anchor on the beach, the unexpectedly beautiful campsite at Klanawa River.

West Coast Trail Best Sights: Logging Relics

The remnants of the logging history along the West Coast Trail appear a couple times along the trail. This is a donkey engine, a steam powered winch used to pull trees from where they were felled to where they will be transported to ships, trains or trucks to sawmills. Invented in California in 1881, the donkey engine revolutionized the logging industry. Previously logs were moved by physical labour in the form of oxen, horses or people. Donkey engines used long wire ropes to pull the logs and whenever you find a donkey engine like this one you are sure to find a very long wire rope extending from it along the forest floor for quite some distance.

Best West Coast Trail Sights Donkey Engine

West Coast Trail Best Sights: Rainforest Exit

This abrupt end to the trail is quite a surprise after slogging through endless jungle rainforest.

Best West Coast Trail Sights Ladders

West Coast Trail Best Sights: Shipwreck Anchor

An anchor, thought to be from the Woodside appears on the rocks near KM20. The Woodside, an 87 foot long steamer built in Sooke, BC in 1878. The Woodside provided regular service between Victoria, Port Renfrew, Barkley Sound, and Alberni Inlet. On March 12th, 1888, the Woodside lost her rudder and drifted into the rock shelf in front of Trestle Creek. Just past the 20 kilometre mark on the West Coast Trail, the anchor of the Woodside still sits in the middle of the beach. The ship was a total loss, disintegrating over the years with little left but the hauntingly vivid reminder of the wreck, laying rusting on the beach.

Best West Coast Trail Sights Shipwreck Anchor

West Coast Trail Best Sights: Klanawa River

Klanawa River is a huge, slow moving river near KM23. There is a very nice campsite along the beach which is much quieter than the always chaotic Tsusiat Falls campsite. The river is very nice to swim in as well. There is a cable car crossing to get across now, but a century ago it had no permanent crossing except Klanawa Charlie who would ferry people across for a fee. 

Best West Coast Trail Sights Klanawa River

Klanawa River to Tsusiat Falls 22-25km

Highlights along this section are the fun cable crossing over Klanawa River, the amazing viewpoints from cliffs high above the ocean, the mirage at the top of Tsusiat Falls, the extraordinary ladders down to the beach, Tsusiat Falls, Tsusiat Beach, Tsusiat Cave, another wildlife sighting, whales.

West Coast Trail Best Sights: Ocean Views KM24

Dramatic ocean views start appearing near KM24 along the cliff trail. You can barely see Hole in the Wall in the distance of this picture. Tsusiat Falls is hidden by the contours of the cliffs far to the left.

Best West Coast Trail Sights Ocean Views KM24

West Coast Trail Best Sights: Tsusiat Illusion

Looking out over the top of Tsusiat Falls it seems to connect to the ocean instead of dropping off the cliff. This great illusion is best seen from the short, easily missed, unmarked trail that takes you to the edge of the falls.

Best West Coast Trail Sights Tsusiat Mirage

West Coast Trail Best Sights: Tsusiat Ladders

The fantastic network of ladders down to Tsusiat Falls are quite impressive, tall and interconnected. Imagine having to climb up if the ladders were not there. It would involve clawing your way through near impenetrable bush up this very steep slope. So many times on the West Coast Trail you stare in wonder at how elaborate and huge the ladder sections are and how brutally difficult this trail would have been in the early days.

Best West Coast Trail Sights Tsusiat Ladders

West Coast Trail Best Sights: Tsusiat Falls

Beautiful Tsusiat Falls, the best known attraction on the West Coast Trail. More than a century ago when ships were the only connection to the outside world for the West Coast of Vancouver Island, Tsusiat Falls was a regular stop for passenger ships along the way. Ships would slow or stop offshore so everyone could get a good look. When hiking the West Coast Trail the Tsusiat Falls campsite is the most popular due to the beauty of the falls, the gorgeous beach that goes on and on and in one direction leads to a cave! Tsusiat Falls is also the best place to go for a swim and you can easily get behind the falls for a surreal view.

Best Sights WCT Tsusiat Falls

Tsusiat Falls at night is quite a sight as well!

Tsusiat Falls at Night

West Coast Trail Best Sights: Tsusiat Beach

Tsusiat Beach is very beautiful and the offshore reefs are a reminder that you are looking out at the Graveyard of the Pacific. On many other West Coast Trail beaches the reefs are a bit ugly and covered in slime, at Tsusiat Beach the reefs add to the beauty by making the beach look more alive and dangerous. Tsusiat Beach is one of the best sights on the West Coast Trail because it is wonderfully long in both directions. It is mostly clear beach and nice sand and plenty of driftwood logs high up on the beach. At your back, opposite the ocean is a steep rainforest cliff which is very pretty. At one end of the beach there is a wonderful cave and way down the beach in the other direction is Hole in the Wall, a huge point of land jutting out into the ocean.

Best West Coast Trail Tsusiat Beach

West Coast Trail Best Sights: Tsusiat Cave

Tsusiat Cave is hidden down at the far end of the beach and is a fantastic place to play caveman and have a fire at night. Caves are always mysterious and interesting and this one is no exception. This one has been occupied by by West Coast Trail hikers for half a century and previous to that it was almost certainly used as a shelter by shipwreck survivors. 

Best Sights Tsusiat Cave

West Coast Trail Best Sights: Whales!

Tsusiat Beach is one of the best places to spot whales, especially from your tent in the morning. The Tsusiat Falls campsite is elevated a few metres above the ocean so you get a great view. Also, the coastline is less jagged than much of the rest of the coastline and maybe that encourages whales in closer. Seeing whales is always a thrill and from your tent on a perfect morning on the West Coast Trail, its even better.

Best of the West Coast Trail Whales

Tsusiat Falls to Nitinaht Narrows 25-32km

Highlights, beautiful beaches, Hole in the Wall, cliff hugging forest trail with endless incredible ocean views, Nitinaht Narrows boat crossing and Carl’s Crab Shack.

West Coast Trail Best Sights: Hole in the Wall

Just down the beautiful beach from Tsusiat Falls you see Hole in the Wall appear in the distance. Unless the tide is very high you can walk through the hole, otherwise you can climb up and over it quite easily. You can also easily walk across the opening and follow the broad point all the way to the end and be almost surrounded by the ocean.

Hole in the Wall West Coast Trail

Hole in the wall is one of the best and most well known sights on the West Coast Trail. The relentless pounding of waves up and down the coast has carved several interesting caves and rock features along the trail, but Hole in the Wall is definitely the most dramatically beautiful.

Best Sights Hole in the Wall, West Coast Trail

West Coast Trail Best Sights: Incredible Beaches

More incredible beaches continue to surprise you along the West Coast Trail. This incredible beach appears from the cliffs high above near KM31. This beach perfectly represents the West Coast Trail. A wide, beautifully sandy beach, backed by a steep cliff. Hidden feeling and serene, but at the same time hostile looking with black pinnacles of rock jutting out of the ocean. Another wonderful feature of West Coast Trail beaches is you never see anyone on them. The trail is so long and there are countless beaches, so with the exception of campsite beaches you almost never see anyone else. Along the West Coast Trail every time you find the best beach, another better beach appears a few hours later. 

Beautiful Beaches West Coast Trail

West Coast Trail Best Sights: Juan de Fuca Strait

It is about this part of the trail if you are hiking north to south, that you start noticing land across Juan de Fuca Strait. This is the north west corner of Washington State in the US. Somewhere near the end of that point of land is the Cape Flattery Lighthouse. Cape Flattery Lighthouse was the first lighthouse constructed to mark the entrance to Juan de Fuca Strait in 1857. In recent years the Cape Flattery Lighthouse was replaced by an automated light on a tower, however the beautiful old lighthouse is being preserved. It wasn't until 1891 that the much needed Carmanah Point Lighthouse was built directly across the strait from Cape Flattery. The Cape Beale Lighthouse near the north end of the West Coast Trail near Bamfield was built previously in 1873 based on speculation that Port Alberni would become the terminus for the new railroad spanning Canada under construction. The terminus was eventually built near Vancouver instead and though a lighthouse was planned for construction at Bonilla Point, next to Carmanah Point, plans were stalled for almost two decades.

Cape Beale Lighthouse Map v2

Finally in 1890 the construction was to begin on the new Bonilla Point Lighthouse. Construction materials were laboriously hauled up to the site of the new lighthouse and it was only then that they realized they were on Carmanah Point instead of Bonilla Point. Unwilling to correct their mistake, the new lighthouse was built on Carmanah Point instead and operational in 1891. Even after the construction of this critical lighthouse, ships continued to wreck along the West Coast of Vancouver Island in shocking numbers. Finally after the horrific disaster of the Valencia shipwreck in 1906, yet another lighthouse was built between Carmanah Point and Cape Beale. The Pachena Point Lighthouse went into operation in 1908.

West Coast Trail Best Sights: Nitinaht Crossing

The Nitinaht Narrows boat crossing is one of the highlights of this section of the West Coast Trail because you get to see this notoriously treacherous place up close. With Nitinaht Lake off to the left and the ocean off to the right, they constantly push and pull water back and forth. From this view it looks calm and easy, but not far away to the right is the narrow opening to the ocean and calm becomes breakers capable of tossing boats end to end like toys. You can get through in a boat, but apparently only for a short, 8 minute window when the tide changes!

Nitinaht Narrows Boat Crossing

West Coast Trail Best Sights: Carl's Crab Shack

Carl's Crab Shack is run by the fellow that boats you across Nitinaht Narrows. He has a few tables on the wharf and a small covered area with a couple tables. There are usually just two things on the menu, whole crab or chicken and baked potato. 

Carl's Crab Shack West Coast Trail

Nitinaht Narrows to Cribs Creek 32-41km

Highlights, gorgeous ocean views, the Cheewhat River bridge, spectacular Cheewhat Beach, amazing ladder sections, wildly beautiful, hidden Dare Beach and campsite, more stunning cliffside hiking and ocean viewpoints, the absurdly busy, worst campsite on the West Coast Trail, Cribs Creek.

West Coast Trail Highlights: Gorgeous Ocean Views

Leaving Carl's Crab Shack you hike an easy and flat section of trail through mostly flat terrain as you pass near Whyac a small First Nations community. Just past KM33 the trail runs close to cliffs overlooking the ocean and some terrific views of jagged reefs and crashing whitewater. Below is the location of another shipwreck, the Raita wrecked here in 1925 and remnants hide under the waves on the other side of those reefs.

Best of the West Coast Trail Ocean Views

West Coast Trail Highlights: Cheewhat Bridge

The trail continues along the coast then through the community of Clo-oose and into the forest for a short distance before arriving at the Cheewhat Bridge. The Cheewhat Bridge near KM36 is near the start of an extraordinary two kilometre section of beach. The bridge is nice and gives you great views from the middle down the river toward the ocean.

Cheewhat River Bridge

West Coast Trail Highlights: Cheewhat Beach

After the Cheewhat Bridge you almost immediately arrive at the stunning, wide open, clear sandy Cheewhat Beach that extends for two kilometres.

Beautiful Cheewhat Beach West Coast Trail

West Coast Trail Highlights: Dare Beach

After walking along Cheewhat Beach you have to exit the beach and hike through the forest for a short distance before you get a choice between beach or forest route. After walking the beach and sinking into the sand on every step it is nice to try the forest for a while and the forest section is nice with lots of views and not terribly challenging. Near KM39 you come to a long bridge crossing the creek that flows through Dare Beach. The view of the beach far below is fantastic. Far below you see a pool of clear green water flowing over and beside a big rock shelf emerging from the forest. The beautiful pool ends at a big jumble of deadfall logs where the creek flows through for about 15 metres before ending at a wonderful sandy beach cut through by the creek. This is Dare Beach, named after Dare Point which juts out to the right and the sight of the Dare shipwreck that happened here in 1890. The same Dare Point would claim another ship in 1923 when the 600 ton steel steamer Santa Rita wrecked here. Dare Beach an unofficial West Coast Trail campsite, so it has no campsite amenities and is not marked as a campsite on maps. There is not a lot of room to camp along the beach, but otherwise it is fantastic, especially compared to the busy and a bit ugly Cribs Creek campsite just 1.5 kilometres away.

Dare Beach West Coast Trail

Near KM41 you come to another end of the trail, abrupt ladder down. This one takes you down to the beach that leads to the campsite at Cribs Creek.

Ladder Down to Cribs Creek

The Cribs Creek campsite is not the greatest and due to its location is always quite busy.

Cribs Creek Campsite

Cribs Creek to Carmanah Creek 41-46km

This section has some nice ocean views from the cliffside trail and you pass the Carmanah Point Lighthouse, but the main highlight is the beautiful beach and campsite at Carmanah Creek.

West Coast Trail Highlights: Carmanah Creek

Leaving Cribs Creek you hike along the increasingly nice beach, then up into the forest and to Carmanah Point Lighthouse at KM44. Steep ladders lead you back down to the beach after Carmanah Point and a lovely beach section that continues to Carmanah Creek at KM46. The campsite at Carmanah Creek is very nice and there is lots of room to camp high up on the beach next to the very nice Carmanah Creek. Because nearly all hikers camp at Cribs Creek due to the huge gap in official campsites north of it, Carmanah Creek is usually quiet. If you like to avoid the crowds, love spectacular beaches and like being next to a nice river to jump into, Carmanah Campsite is paradise.

Carmanah Creek Campsite Best of West Coast Trail

Carmanah Creek meeting the ocean with endless amazing beach in both directions. With everyone camping at the nearby, crowded and ugly, Cribs Creek campsite, the Carmanah Creek campsite is a serene paradise all your own!

Carmanah Creek West Coast Trail

In the other direction, the Carmanah Creek cable car crossing.

Carmanah Creek and Cable Car

Getting close to sunset over Carmanah Creek with Carmanah Point in the distance. You can just make out the silhouette of Carmanah Point Lighthouse near the edge of Carmanah Point.

Best West Coast Trail Sights Carmanah Creek

Carmanah Creek to Bonilla Falls 46-48km

Highlights, Carmanah Creek cable car crossing, beautiful beaches, Bonilla Point, Bonilla Falls, Bonilla Campsite, Bonilla sunset.

West Coast Trail Highlights: Carmanah Creek Cable Car

Leaving the beautiful Carmanah Creek campsite you can wade across the creek or take the very fun cable car across. The West Coast Trail has five cable cars and they are all a very memorable aspect of the trail. 

Carmanah Cable Car Crossing

West Coast Trail Highlights: Bonilla Point Refuge Rock

Bonilla Point is just two kilometres down the beach from Carmanah Creek near KM48. Low tide exposes an expansive, flat reef that extends out to the crashing ocean mixed with jagged reef islands. There are three peculiar little islands in the midst of the reef that look very out of place. Somehow surviving centuries of wave erosion, these little islands have a few hardy trees surviving. An old publication calls one of these islands Refuge Rock, an appropriate name that maybe refers to them collectively.

Bonilla Point Refuge Rock

West Coast Trail Highlights: Bonilla Falls

Nestled in the forest back from Bonilla Point is Bonilla Falls. Like a mini Tsusiat Falls, Bonilla Falls is wide, short and crashes into a pool that flows through the beach to the ocean. Though less grand than Tsusiat Falls, Bonilla Falls is beautifully nestled in the forest in a way that makes it so perfect that when you get close to it, you can't take your eyes off it. It pours off a short cliff at the edge of the forest, so in the afternoon and evening it is lit up brightly by the sun. So, if you are just a couple metres away from it you stand in the shade of the forest and look out to the glowing white water crashing down, surrounded by bright green, sunny forest. Absolutely magical!

Best West Coast Trail Bonilla Falls

West Coast Trail Highlights: Bonilla Creek Campsite

Bonilla Falls sits at the edge of a wonderful little forest that is home to the very underrated and overlooked Bonilla Creek campsite. Everyone hikes past along the beach without noticing the hidden little forest campsite just steps away. Sand from the beach covers much of the ground in the forest so the ground is clean and smooth. There are a few stunning clearings for tents with views of the ocean and the waterfall! At the edge of the forest there is plenty of room for tents in the open or in the midst of the driftwood.

Bonilla Falls Campsite

West Coast Trail Highlights: Bonilla Point Sunset

Bonilla Point gives you spectacular sunsets. The flat reef with Refuge Rock positioned like a postcard silhouette. On a nice evening it is hard to have a sunset that is not beautiful on the West Coast Trail, but at Bonilla Point sunsets are unforgettable.

Bonilla Point Refuge Rock Sunset

Best West Coast Trail Bonilla Sunset

Bonilla Falls to Walbran Creek 48-53km

Highlights, extraordinary sandy beaches, massive ladder sections in and out of the forest, spectacularly destroyed sections of trail, Walbran Creek cable car crossing, beautiful Walbran Creek campsite

West Coast Trail Highlights: Incredible Beaches

Heading down the beach from Bonilla Falls you immediately find yourself walking along an incredible beach. Nothing but perfect forest on your left, smooth sand in front of you and wild blue Pacific Ocean to your right.

Endless Beautiful Beaches West Coast Trail

West Coast Trail Highlights: Increasingly Insane Ladders

Just past KM51 you get a choice of beach hiking or forest hiking. The beach route is much easier, but there is no bridge over Walbran Creek at KM53 if you take the beach route. If you hike the forest route you get to cross the creek in another fantastic cable car. As you enter the forest you start climbing the most insane ladder network, even taller than the crazy one at Tsusiat Falls. Then you start wondering if wading the creek would be the better option. But the ladders are pretty amazing and the cable car is way more fun than wading a creek, so you press on.

Tall Ladders at KM51

West Coast Trail Highlights: Stunning Deadfall Exhibits

West Coast Trail at KM52 reveals some brutal storm felled deadfall. This one is fantastic, the KM52 signs were evidently retrieved from the forest after being tossed there by the falling tree and brought back and pounded into the crater where the tree used to be!

Huge Deadfall Wall at KM52

West Coast Trail Highlights: Walbran Creek Ladders

Another tall network of ladders takes you down to the cable car crossing over Walbran Creek. Looking down from the top of West Coast Trail ladders is a strange experience because you usually can't see through to the bottom of the network of ladders and sometimes to the bottom of a single ladder. The rainforest wraps around and through the ladders, making them invisible just a few metres below your feet. There are times when you pause to confirm there is another ladder rung below you to step onto or if you are the first to climb down a recently broken ladder.

Ladders Down to Walbran Creek

West Coast Trail Highlights: Walbran Creek Crossing

The Walbran Creek crossing has to be the best cable car crossing on the West Coast Trail. It is long and the view from the middle is fantastic!

Walbran Creek Crossing

West Coast Trail Highlights: Walbran Creek Campsite

The Walbran Creek campsite is yet another wonderful campsite. You can pitch your tent along the beach and jump into the creek just a couple metres away, amazing!

Walbran Creek Camp West Coast Trail

Walbran Creek to Cullite Creek 53-58km

Highlights, the wonderful Logan Creek crossing, spectacular ladders at Cullite Creek, beautiful Cullite Creek campsite.

West Coast Trail Highlights: Logan Creek Crossing

The massive chasm that Logan Creek sits at the bottom of is enormous. In 2021 a new bridge was built to replace the incredibly elaborate network of ladders on both sides that were connected by a much shorter bridge just above the creek. This is what the old crossing looked like and it was definitely the most amazing of the man made features of the West Coast Trail.

The Old Logan Creek Crossing

The new bridge over Logan Creek is 113 metres long and 40 metres above the creek!

West Coast Trail Highlights: Cullite Creek Ladders

Just a couple kilometres past the incredible crossing over Logan Creek you come to more long ladders down to the cable car crossing over Cullite Creek and yet another huge ladder network down to Cullite Cove.

Cullite Creek Ladders

Cullite Creek Ladders

West Coast Trail Highlights:  Cullite Cove Campsite

Cullite Cove is a gorgeous hidden world nestled between two cliffs that extend into the ocean like two giant arms. Cullite Creek pours through one side and the forest covers everything else. Cullite Cove is one of those beautiful places along the West Coast Trail that you wish you could stay for a week. 

Cullite Creek Camp Best of West Coast Trail

Cullite Creek meets the ocean and is flanked by an extraordinary cliff shedding boulders which lean against its base. 

Cullite Creek Best of West Coast Trail

Cullite Creek is wonderful for swimming and extends back into the forest with a nice pebble beach on either side.

Best of West Coast Trail Cullite Creek

Cullite Creek to Camper Creek 58-62km

Highlights, the amazingly challenging rainforest hike and Camper Creek.

West Coast Trail Highlights: Brutal Rainforest Trail

The trail between Cullite Creek and Camper Cove is quite an adventure. Crazy mud pools, deadfall trees criss-crossing the trail, and the trail never runs in a straight line or even flat the entire time! It is a constant struggle to find your next footing and keep from falling into a deep mud pit. Despite the challenges you can't stop yourself from being stunned by the ferocious beauty of this incredible place!

Tough Rainforest Mud Hiking

West Coast Trail Highlights: Camper Creek

Camper Creek is quite nice with the wide creek passing through the campsite to the ocean. The campsite is wide open and a bit rocky, so you have to put your tent up close to the forest and it can get quite crowded. The location of Camper Creek makes it almost unavoidable for almost all hikers, so it is always busy. Thrasher is just 5km to the Gordon River trailhead and many hikers skip it and camp at Camper Creek instead which is 13km from the trailhead. Because this end of the West Coast Trail is very challenging and slow going, unless you hike the beach route around Owen Point which is quite easy and fast, the 13km between the trailhead and Camper Creek is a lot for one day.

Camper Creek Campsite West Coast Trail

Camper Creek to Thrasher Cove 62-69km

Highlights, Rock shelf beach route, deep rock channels, Owen Point, Island Pillars with trees, sandy beach at Thrasher Cove.

West Coast Trail Highlights: Rock Shelf Beach Route

The forest route from Camper Creek to Thrasher Cove is pretty challenging rainforest hiking and not terribly scenic. The beach route, however is absolutely incredible and constantly changing to different variation of flat rock shelf. Though it can be slippery along wet sections, this section is very enjoyable as well as short and easy. Some hikers are terrified of rocky, boulder sections and if you find other rocky beach sections earlier in the trail too difficult for your liking, then you may want to take the rainforest route from Camper Bay to Thrasher Cove.

Carved Rock Shelf West Coast Trail

West Coast Trail Highlights: Amazing Rock Channels

The West Coast Trail near KM66 takes you along great sections of the shoreline rock shelf that has been undercut by the ocean. So, much of the time you are hiking along rock overhangs just a metre or two thick.

Beach Route West Coast Trail

West Coast Trail Highlights: Owen Point Cave

The Owen Point Cave is a spectacular sight, especially on a sunny day. The cave lights up green, brown and a range of colours in between. Coated in a green slime, the cave is blindingly bright when you enter it. The rainforest pours through every crack in the walls and in from above. 

Owen Point Cave Best West Coast Trail

West Coast Trail Highlights: Beach Pillars

The West Coast Trail beach route near KM68 is scattered with boulders and a few little boulder islands, surprisingly covered in forest life. You can't help but climb up them and take a closer look at the absurdly hardy life growing on them.

Rocky Beach Route West Coast Trail

West Coast Trail Highlights: Beach Route Boulders

The amazingly varied beach route passes through this spectacular boulder section near KM69. Not too difficult unless the rocks are wet and become slippery. The hardest part is keeping your eyes on your next step instead of marveling at the titanic rocks around you and overhanging cliffs above you!

Rocky Beach Route West Coast Trail

Thrasher Cove to Gordon Bay Trailhead 69-75km

Highlights, tall ladders into the rainforest at Thrasher Cove, donkey engine, rough, beautiful terrain and more amazing ladders.

West Coast Trail Highlights: Thrasher Cove Ladders

Thrasher Cove has the most abruptly steep ladders up into the impossibly lush rainforest. The ladders are absolutely engulfed in the forest as you climb the never ending interconnected ladders from the beach to the forest trail to the Gordon River trailhead.

Thrasher Cove Ladders

West Coast Trail Highlights: More Logging Relics

A very well preserved donkey engine abandoned here probably over a century ago.

Donkey Engine at KM71

West Coast Trail Highlights: Last of the Amazing Ladders

The last of the amazing West Coast Trail ladder networks near KM73.

Best of West Coast Trail Final Ladders

West Coast Trail Highlights: Beautiful Trail

Pausing to take in the beautiful trail near KM73, knowing that the end is near. You get a strange sad feeling near the end of the trail, but also an excitement to get your first restaurant meal in days, first shower and a real bed. Still, it is sad to be near the exit of such an unbelievably wild and spectacular place.

Best of West Coast Trail Beautiful Trail

West Coast Trail Highlights: Gordon River Trailhead

The end of the trail at Gordon River is wonderfully surreal and poetic. It actually ends with the trail disappearing under water, fantastic! Back at the edge of the forest you find a pole with a rope pulley to signal the boat taxi to come pick you up and drop you back into the civilization of Port Renfrew. In Port Renfrew you will find restaurants and not a great selection of hotels, but some terrific bed and breakfast type places.

Best of West Coast Trail Gordon River Trailhead

West Coast Trail Guide

There 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 ...
Read more
The 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 ...
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
When 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
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