Backpacking Tour

Backpacking the West Coast Trail of Vancouver Island | CA-EC401

Enjoy the natural majesty of the West Coast Trail – one step at a time

Overview

Join in one of the best hiking tours in the world on this backpacking expedition along the West Coast Trail on Vancouver Island. A hiker’s paradise, the famous West Coast Trail promises the diversity of sandy coastline, scenic cliffs and rugged trails and offers a new challenge with each sunrise. The route takes you through old growth forest, across suspension bridges, down streams and rivers and out into the open coast.

Tour Highlights

  • Cable car crossing
  • Tsusiat Falls
  • Port Renfrew
  • Walbran Creek
  • Sandstone Creek and Cullite Creek ladders
  • Logan Creek suspension bridge
  • Carmanah Lighthouse
  • Valencia Bluffs
  • Pachena Bay Trailhead (Bamfield)

There are some places still left in this world that only the most intrepid travelers will ever experience. British Columbia’s West Coast Trail is one of them. Its coastal rainforest and windswept beaches hold countless stories – of ancient trading routes for local First Nations, of shipwrecks and sailors, and the Graveyard of the Pacific. Constructed as a lifeline for those who dared sail beyond the reefs and breakers of Vancouver Island’s southern coast, today, the West Coast Trail is considered the hike of a lifetime – a bucket-list experience.

No average walk in the park, it’s an epic journey of discovery, one that you must prepare for both physically and otherwise. A whopping 76 km (47 mi) from tip to tip, it takes true grit and determination to navigate the jungle-like edge of Vancouver Island, and some other things too. If you’re game to take this epic journey, it would be our privilege to guide you through, ensuring your quest for the West Coast Trail is a safe and memorable journey.

  • Personal Experience
  • Trusted Tour Operator
  • Local Guides
  • Small group
Available Jul - Aug
Duration 7 days
Departs From Victoria, BC
Group maximum 8
Minimum age 18
Difficulty Level Moderate / Challenging
Meet on Location No
Pick Up Yes

From

2 190 CAD

Per Adult

  • Best Price Guarantee
  • Toll Free number in N. America: +1 888 285 1676
  • International number: +1 780 414 1676

Availability (2019): Jul 7 - Jul 13, Jul 21 - Jul 27,
Aug 5 - Aug 11, Aug 17 - Aug 23.

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What's Included

Find out what is included and what to bring.

Included

  • Tent, state-of-the-art lightweight group camping gear, hiker preparation guide, waterproof map
  • The leadership of a fully qualified wilderness guide, expert the West Coast Trail, and certified in CPR
  • Hearty, healthy meals to fuel your journey
  • Breakfast, lunch and dinner are included daily, beginning and ending with lunch your first and last days
  • Roundtrip transportation to the trailhead from Victoria
  • Boat shuttles along the Trail

What to bring

  • Rain gear
  • Warm fleece or wool jacket
  • Hiking pants
  • Hiking boots
  • Wool socks
  • Long t-shirt
  • Gaiters
  • Camp shoes
  • Bathing suit and towel
  • Clothing and equipment list available

Not Included

  • Any meals and accommodation not listed in the itinerary
  • Parks Canada permits and camping fees (mandatory, but charged separately)
  • Any optional excursions
  • Expenses incurred due to bad weather / fog / flight delays
  • Gratuities for guides (never obligatory but always appreciated)

Contact us for more Information about this tour

Itinerary

Information

The West Coast Trail forms the southern unit of Pacific Rim National Park on Vancouver Island's wild and incredibly beautiful West Coast and is the quintessential Canadian backpacking adventure.  The West Coast Trail is one of the remaining great adventures of our time, offering both a physical challenge and beautiful scenery. 

Once a rescue trail for shipwrecked survivors on the rough Pacific Coast of Vancouver Island, this remarkable route has earned an international reputation and draws in thousands of adventurous hikers from all over the globe. Pacific Rim National Park limits the access to the West Coast Trail to 52 hikers per day during the season from May 1st to September 30th of each year, so the season is slim!

Your guides will ensure that your enjoyment is equal to the magnificent scenery of this spectacular coastal footpath.  This backpack has almost everything - sweeping sandy beaches, sea caves, rocky headlands, shelves teeming with marine life, and spectacular waterfalls.  Besides the backpacking, the trail offers many opportunities to explore tidal pools and the life that teems within them. 

The night before: The West Coast Trail pre-trip meeting takes place at 6:00 PM in Victoria’s Royal Scot Suite Hotel, in the meeting room we have reserved for this event. Here, you will meet with your guides, get to know the rest of your travel mates and receive instructions regarding what lies ahead as well as the distribution of the collective gear and food. Don’t stay up in the bar for too long because it will be a short night and you’ll have a good workout tomorrow, guaranteed!

Departure time is 7:00 AM. The West Coast Trail Express shuttle van will pick us up at the Royal Scot. Approx. travel time is 2 – 2 ½ hours along a winding and bumpy road, taking us northwest to the small town of Port Renfrew, the southern terminus of the West Coast Trail. Prior to the first crossing by boat over to the Gordon River Trailhead, we will attend an orientation session by Parks Canada. Finally, it’s time to shoulder our backpacks. Hike On! We’ll hike to Thrasher  Cove today for a distance of 6 km and pass the highest point of the trail along the way. This relatively short section - all through the forest - is difficult and ends with ladders down to the first camp. Operation West Coast Trail has started!

Meals:   lunch  /  dinner

Today’s hike over 8 km to Camper Bay is a strenuous and demanding trek along the coastline, over driftwood and boulders, around Owen Point, and then crossing small surge channels. The tides will dictate whether we can cover this section along the beach or will hike inland. This part of the trip is very difficult; the rewards are the beautiful sandstone cliffs, caverns and the ocean swell pounding against the rocks for a major part of the day. We then move inland into the rainforest to reach our camp and set in for the night. This day is full of highlights and we’ll find out why the West Coast Trail is considered one of the remaining great adventures of our time!

Meals:  breakfast  /  lunch  /  dinner

It is 9 km to Walbran Creek, our today’s destination. We’ll experience our first cable car crossing and this section of the trail - like all sections that lead through the forest - can be muddy, very muddy. The Sandstone Creek and Cullite Creek ladders are steep and the longest on the entire West Coast Trail. Next follows a trail section through the bog which is over a boardwalk to protect the forest floor below. We will then cross the Logan Creek suspension bridge, followed by more ladders. It will be a difficult day with mostly inland travel but through absolutely beautiful rainforest. Like Camper Creek, the slow-moving waters of the Walbran Creek invite for a refreshing swim – a delight! And with a little luck, the red of the sunset over the Pacific Ocean will only be matched by the crackling campfire tonight.

Meals:  breakfast  /  lunch  /  dinner

The hike to Cribs Creek is 11 km and follows the coastline around Vancouver Point, again if the tides are favorable, otherwise we will trek through the rainforest. This area can be muddy but the most difficult part of the West Coast Trail is now behind us! This hiking day will be moderate. On to Bonilla Point where along the way we witness gorgeous ocean scenery and beautiful sea stacks! For many, this section is quintessential West Coast Trail. Often Gray whales and perhaps by chance Orcas can be seen in the distance. Hiking on the shelf is now comfortable and the Carmanah Creek crossing is ahead. Take in the beauty of the resident seabird colony while we pick up our food drop at Chez Monique's. Equipped with fresh supplies, we will continue and visit the Carmanah Lighthouse. Once at camp, we will explore the fascinating tide pools at the cribs. A good part of this day is on the sandy beaches.   

Meals:  breakfast  /  lunch  /  dinner

It’s a big day today! The distance to the Tsusiat Falls is no less than 17 km! Needless to say that this will be the longest part of the trip; however it is a moderate hike. We will make our way along the coastline or through the rainforest to the Cheewhat River. The boardwalked trail to Nitinat Narrows is followed by a boat crossing operated by the local First Nations people. Some of the West Coast Trail’s most spectacular views are around Tsuquadrah Point. The last portion of the day’s hike will be along coastline and if possible, through Hole in the Wall at Tsusiat Point. Tsusiat Falls are nearby and considered by many to be the scenic culmination of the West Coast Trail with an amazing natural pool for swimming. It is a stunning, picture-perfect, world-class setting. This sight alone, to stay here, is worth all the effort!

Meals:  breakfast  /  lunch  /  dinner

Today’s hike to Michigan Creek over 13 km is a moderate trek featuring ladders back to the trail, through rainforests, and often muddy ground. The last of the cable car crossings is over the Klanawa River. A short beach hike leads to the forested path over the Valencia Bluffs. It was here where the biggest tragedy along this coastline unfolded, leading to the creation of the West Coast Trail as a lifesaving trail for the shipwrecked, later protected as one of the units of Pacific Rim National Park. Depending on the tides, we will descend a ladder down to the beach from Tsucowis Creek and follow the coastline to Michigan Creek’s tide pools. Here, we pitch our tents in the soft Pacific sands for the last time on the West Coast Trail.

Meals:  breakfast  /  lunch  /  dinner

The hike to Pachena Bay Trailhead (Bamfield) is 12 km long and the easiest section of the entire West Coast Trail. The last section is along a generally good trail. One set of ladders yet to go, at the very end! The Pachena Lighthouse is a good last viewpoint along with a rock dotted with sea lions. Again the Gray whales may be seen near the entrance to Barkley Sound. Our transfer back to Victoria will no doubt be filled with a great sense of achievement mixed with just a bit of exhaustion. The many memories of the West Coast Trail will stay with us for a long, long time and some moments will be unforgettable. Arrival in Victoria approx. 07.00 pm.
Meals:  breakfast  /  lunch

Transportation:

Trips originate and end in Victoria, British Columbia.

Restrictions:

The West Coast Trail is a spectacular trekking trip but is also considered challenging. Participants are required to be of good physical fitness level and as the group equipment will be shared they should be capable of carrying 12 - 15 kg (26 - 33 lbs) per person above personal equipment.

Weather:

Weather conditions can be variable ranging from daytime temperatures of 21° C to 24° C (70° F to 75° F). Evenings are cool with temperatures near 10° C (55° F). Extended periods of rain are unusual but possible, and mornings may be foggy.

The West Coast of Vancouver Island is well known for unpredictable weather. You need to be prepared for all kinds of weather. We've had groups that had practically no rain, others had rain for most of the days, but most have a mixture of both, rain and shine. 

Accommodation:

Accommodations are in basic tent campsites along the route.

Meals & Dining:

Most of the food we pack along is dehydrated, although we do pack along with fresh food as well. We choose to use dehydrated food supplies to limit weight and waste. Once prepared our meals are hearty and delicious.  We are happy to accommodate vegetarians.

FAQ - FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Still got questions about the tour? Hopefully you will find the answer here.

Besides personal clothing & toiletries participants are asked to carry an equal amount of group gear such as food, tents, cooking gear, etc. which results in approx. 12 - 15 kg per person additionally.

The West Coast of Vancouver Island is well known for unpredictable weather. You need to be prepared for all kinds of weather. We've had groups that had practically no rain, others had rain for most of the days, but most have a mixture of both, rain and shine.

 

There is a saying that only hiking the West Coast Trail is the real training to hike the West Coast Trail. It's an advantage if you have some backpacking experience, however, the sometimes difficult terrain of the West Coast Trail can surprise even the most experienced hiker, especially in rainy conditions. Remember that despite the distance there are also the ladder systems to be considered, which can be quite slippery and require your full attention at all times. Most of our guests do experience some signs of exhaustion, it's common, but that's why you participate in a guided trip. Everybody of the group experiences the same more or less and together you'll pull it through. And there are our experienced guides who will be able to lift your spirit just in the right moment ...

The people who come on the West Coast Trail feel that it is the discovery in the journey that is important, not rushing along but more importantly steady. Generally guests who come on these trips are fit and strong but not competitive. There is so much to see that faster hikers have plenty to experience and are happy to accommodate to the pace of slower folks.

We have a maximum of 8 guests plus 2 guides.

We usually choose the dates to take advantage of the tide schedules and longer daylight.

Payment Details

Deposit and taxes
Pricing does not include: 5.00% GST.
A 25% deposit is required to hold your reservation.
Balance of payment is due 60 days before trip commencement.

CANCELLATION POLICY & DETAILS
West Coast Trail: Cancellation up to 61 days prior is a fee of $500 per person which includes the Park Permit Fee. Cancellation 60-0 days is no refund. Ideally, we would like all guests to have trip cancellation insurance. Kayaking tours: Cancellation up to 61 days prior is a fee of $150 per person which includes the Park Permit Fee. Cancellation 60-0 days is no refund.