Backpack the West Coast Trail


Backpack the West Coast Trail

The West Coast Trail on Vancouver Island is British Columbia’s most popular backpacking trip. The 75km stretch of trail follows the rugged coast along impressive tidal pools and through lush green rainforests. The many ladders, tide charts, and muddy trails provide the challenge and the campfires on the beach are the sweetest reward.


  • A true West Coast island experience.

  • Incredible campsites that allow for campfires on the beach and falling asleep to the sound of the ocean.

LOCATION: Pacific Rim National Park, Vancouver Island, BRITISH COLUMBIA


  • May-September (June is a particularly good time to go)


  • DRIVING: Drive to the Horseshoe Bay Ferry Terminal to take a ferry to Nanaimo on Vancouver Island. From Nanaimo, drive to the exit point (Port Renfrew if Southbound) and take the Trail Bus (reserve in advance) from Port Renfrew to Bamfield. When you complete the trail, your car will be waiting for you.

  • PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION: Transit to the Horseshoe Bay Ferry Terminal to take a ferry to Nanaimo on Vancouver Island. From Nanaimo, take the Trail Bus (reserve in advance) from Nanaimo to Bamfield (if going Southbound). You can make the reservation roundtrip to get picked up from the end point (Port Renfrew) or hitchhike to a ferry terminal (either Victoria or Nanaimo ferry terminals) at the end.


  • 75 KM point-to-point, usually 6 or 7 days.

  • Option to complete part of the trail in 3 or 4 days by using the midpoint as an entry or exit point.


  • BOOK TRAIL IN ADVANCE or take the chance of a walk-in permit. If you don’t get it, you can always do the comparable Juan De Fuca trail.

  • I recommend going North to South (Pachena Bay to Gordon River).

  • BRing cash to buy food at two points along the trail (one offers american food and snacks and the other is freshly caught seafood).

  • BRING gaiters and hiking poles to navigate the mud on the trail after rainy days.

CanadaMikaela Gregory