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“It is really worth it.”
Review of West Coast Trail

West Coast Trail
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Attraction details
Owner description: West Coast Trail has the reputation of being on of the most excutiating treks in North America, rewarding you with stunning backdrops in a cultural and historical landscape. West Coast Trail is a hiking trail that follows along the southwestern shoreline of Vancouver Island. It has infamous weather, where thousands of people come to storm watch. In fact, the weather and tides have been the demise of many catastrophic shipwrecks up until the late 1800's, making the area known as the "Graveyard of the Pacific". Beached survivors often met their makers once they made it to the jagged shoreline, provoking the government to rough-in a trail that is to this day isolated, physically challenging and potentially hazardous. West Coast Trail is not for the faint of heart, but welcomes those ready to take on the 75km challenge, explore the environment and learn a great deal about themselves, both mentally and physically. Can you conquer it?!
Vancouver Island101
Level Contributor
38 reviews
4 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 65 helpful votes
“It is really worth it.”
Reviewed August 24, 2013

Hiked this trail for the third time last summer, this time with my teenage son. The last time I did the trail was back in 1982. Other than being slightly muddier than before, it was still a fantastic trip. Went from south to north which is consistent with my "get the worst thing done first" philosophy. Took 5 days with no rain. It is challenging in some places, but then, you really should only be out there if you are somewhat fit and know what you are doing. My son (13 at the time) had no issues with the ladders and mud, but we were both pretty knackered by each days end.

Lighten up your pack as much as you can. Don't bring anything that is not essential. It may seem like a good idea to bring a camp chair or an axe or a manhole cover for that matter, but it is really a bad idea.

As far as a wilderness experience goes, this is a fairly expensive one. By the time you pay for the permit, the ferry crossings, the return bus fair, a hamburger at Chez Moniques and some crab at Nitinat, it adds up to a fair bit of cash. But it really is worth it.

Visited September 2012
3 Thank vanisletraveller101
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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97 reviews from our community

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English first
Level Contributor
72 reviews
43 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 29 helpful votes
“A Challenge Worth Taking”
Reviewed August 19, 2013

We took the 75 kilometer hike from the Gordon River trailhead in the south to the Pachena Bay trailhead in the north so we could get the difficult part over first. We planned for 5 days and 3 nights on the trail, with enough food for 6 days, but completed the hike in 4 days and 3 nights. Comparing the trail to the Chilkoot Trail which is somewhat shorter, I found the Chilkoot Trail to be more scenic and rewording, but the West Coast Trail definitely has parts that are more challenging. If you like the coast, you will really enjoy this trip. We had it relatively easy as there had been little rain in the weeks before we went, and we only had rain one night while on the trail. The highlight of the trail for me was beer and burgers at Chez Monique.

Visited July 2013
1 Thank Rustic-Ranger
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Cowichan Bay, Canada
Level Contributor
6 reviews
3 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
“Easy when dry, tough when wet, but please respect other hikers.”
Reviewed August 3, 2013

I just finished my third trip on the trail this summer. It was different each time. May was VERY slippery and the mud was quite wet. Early July was drier, but still quite a bit of water and mud. Logs had moved, beaches changed, and cliffs given way. The trail was different. Late July/early August was very dry, but not completely. The fog was coming in and causing the trees to drip. The boardwalks are decaying rapidly now. The beaches were different again. If you have a dry trip, you are lucky. If you have a trip that rains 5 of 6 days, you are suffering. It is slow and difficult. To be sure, it is a challenging hike, more so for some, but always if you don't know what you are doing. Here are some dos and don'ts: bestbchikingtours.com

Visited August 2013
2 Thank CoastBliss
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Vancouver Island, Canada
Level Contributor
74 reviews
28 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 47 helpful votes
“Be prepared”
Reviewed August 2, 2013

I am glad I did this challenging hike, but I don't think that it's for everyone. If you really enjoy backpacking, pushing yourself physically and sometimes mentally, and are not afraid of heights, then go for it. If you are a casual hiker or haven't backpacked before, and really want to do this hike, I strongly recommend doing some test runs with fully loaded packs in rugged terrain before attempting this hike. Weight training is also a good idea. It's not just being able to bear the weight and cardio demands, it's much about strength and balance. There are many, many long ladders and some narrow log bridges. Some of them are real knee-shakers if you are afraid of heights. When we hiked, it was relatively dry, but if the ladders/bridges are wet and muddy, I think that would add an element of danger if you are nervous or uncomfortable.

When we hiked it in July 2013, it was obviously in passable condition (because we made it), but there were a few ladders with missing rungs and one bridge that was broken and rotted to the point that we each just held our breath and hoped we wouldn't be the one to send it to its resting place in the ravine below. Parks Canada's funding won't be increasing anytime soon, so they do the best they can to maintain the trail, but sometimes you're just on your own.

As expected, there were a lot of hikers on the trail. The popular campsites all seemed to fill up with little tent cities, so there won't be any feeling of solitude in the wilderness. We were often among the first to reach campsites each day, so had no problem getting a spot or room in the bear bin. However, we did see people forced to push through because there really were no spots left to camp in by late in the day (5pm or so). Those were some dejected looking faces!

I don't want to scare people off if they are really keen to do it, but if you are ambivalent, or just want a taste of west coast hiking with beautiful scenery, there are lots of other accessible options like the Wild Pacific, Juan de Fuca, and Cape Scott trails. If you decide that this one is for you, my best recommendation is to have a positive attitude (especially if it's raining!), slow down (thus avoiding injury), and take as much time as you can. And have fun!

Also, of the two guidebooks that most people cite, we found Tim Leadem's Hiking the West Coast Trail vastly more useful than Blisters and Bliss. We found it more detailed and informative.

Visited July 2013
7 Thank kwpapers
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Toronto, Canada
Level Contributor
7 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
“One of the best experiences I've ever had”
Reviewed July 24, 2013 via mobile

The trail is amazing. We did it in 7 days and if anything I would give myself more time - time to rest, a day off to enjoy a campsite would have been fantastic. We did the trail south to north (highly recommend getting the hard part over with first!!!) I can't imagine doing day 1 on our last day as I was beyond exhausted by this point. Perseverance is key!!

Visited July 2013
1 Thank madisonlee_10
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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