West Coast Trail, Vancouver Island, BC

I managed to luck out and get a permit for the August long weekend but I only had a couple of vacation days left to extend the weekend, so I blasted through in 4.5 days instead of the usual 5-7 days. It would have been better to have had a few more days to relax and soak up the scenery but I still had a great time. The coastal scenery was beautiful: tidal pools, long beaches, sea stacks, old growth forest, deep gorges, waterfalls and lots of wildlife. Some of the campsites felt crowded but there were many times on the trip that I had the whole trail to myself for long periods. I found the south half of the trail harder than the north, as there were lots of ladders and deep gorges to negotiate as well as some massive trees that had fallen across the trail. The weather was quite good with a mix of sun and cloud and a bit fog and light rain showers. It can rain any time of the year on the coast but the summers tend to have the best weather although it can be foggy in the mornings.

I started from Port Renfrew in the south end and finished in Bamfield on the north end. Both Port Renfrew and Bamfield can be reached by car. Port Renfrew is about a 2 hour drive from Victoria on paved highway while Bamfield is about 2.5 hours from Cowichan Bay on unpaved forestry roads.  If you don’t want to drive, the West Coast Trail Express trail bus can drop you off and pick you up at either town.

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The trail is in Pacific Rim National Park on the west coast of Vancouver Island. Parks Canada limits the amount of hikers starting the trail each day, so hikers must make a reservation and have a permit to hike the trail. It’s advisable to book your trip months in advance. See the Parks Canada website for information:

http://www.pc.gc.ca/eng/pn-np/bc/pacificrim/activ/activ6a.aspx

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