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The ultimate adventure: The West Coast Trail in Canada

Off to the West Coast Trail adventure in Canada! The 75 kilometer long hiking trail is on the bucket list of many adventure seekers. I did it. All information here!

West Coast Trail Canada Outdoor Adventure Hiker Sea Coast
75 kilometers, more than 100 ladders, thousands upon thousands of slippery planks, countless dangerous tidal creeks, 11 romantic campsites, 25 stranded ships, 130 bridges, gray whales, sea eagles, black bears, seals, sea lions and 1 mighty Pacific.

The West Coast Trail in Canada offers many superlatives and is at the top of many hikers' bucket lists for good reason. With heavy packs, they climb ladders, trudge through deep mud, wade through mountain-fed rivers, through fast-flowing, sometimes waist-deep water, and brave whatever weather the wild West Coast has to offer - often the fiercest wind and rain.

The West Coast Trail was originally created to provide survivors of stranded ships on the wild west coast of Vancouver Island with a chance of survival. Today it is one of the most popular but also most demanding long-distance hiking trails.

Depending on your fitness you can do the trail in 5 to 8 days. Below you can find the description and GPS data for seven days.

Is the West Coast Trail difficult?

Yes, I had exceptionally nice weather and very dry conditions. On the day it rained, the water came more or less horizontally. I find the idea of camping in that weather for five days quite scary. Annalee told me that she sometimes wades knee-deep in mud. The wooden planks also get quite slippery.

The hardest part is carrying all the food for the whole time.

If you're not used to carrying a heavy rucksack, this is a real challenge. I would recommend this: Do hikes with heavy packs beforehand. And my absolute tip. Pack everything waterproof. I had all my stuff in a waterproof pack. Most people are evacuated due to hypothermia.

Click on the first image to start the photo series.

Quick Facts West Coast Trail

-Factor: ♡♡♡♡♡

Walking time: over 40 hours

Altitude: 1440 m up and down

Length: 75 km

Accessible by public transport?  yes with the Trail Bus - more information below

Suitable for families? Not really suitable for children

Stopovers on the way All food and equipment must be carried with you. You can find a detailed packing list at the end of this blog post.

You can find GPS data from Outdooractive under the respective stages below

BEST TIME  The West Coast Trail is open from May 1st. until September 30th open, after which there are no more ferries.

Starting point Port Renfrew or Bamfield,

Hiking guide:  Coastal Bliss offers the West Coast Trail as a complete package including permit booking, transport, food and camping equipment.

West Coast Trail, Stages 1 & 2: Gordon River - Camper Creek

On the way to the first campsite, Thrasher Cove, ladders and the steepest climb await you as an endurance test. On the second day, timing is important, because it is important to cross the rocks to Owens Point with (somewhat) dry feet.

WCT (West Coast Trail) briefings , which every hiker must attend, are offered daily at 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. at Parcs Canada's Gordon River and Pachena Bay between May 1 and September 30. During the meeting, the park rangers will ask questions to check whether you have read/seen the preparation video and PDF. You can find both on the Parks Canada website . Only then will your permit be issued.

To start the hike, you have to cross the Gordon River by boat . The ferry runs daily from May 1st to October 7th. The first crossing takes place at 8:45 a.m., then at 10:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 1:30 p.m., 2:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m.

You can see what awaits you in the next 7 days when you arrive at the beach: The first (of around 100 ladders) leads steeply from the beach up to the high embankment. The path is well marked and the kilometer markers count down from 75.

West Coast Trail Canada happy female hiker ladder outdoor

Day 1: Gordon River to Thrasher Cove, 6 km, 3 to 6 hours.

The route on the first day is only 6 km long, but it's tough: it goes steeply uphill and steeply downhill on rooty paths. In some places you can only cover one kilometer per hour. After 3 km you will pass an old machine called a donkey . Continue to the highest point of the West Coast Trail at 213 m . From there it's another 1 km over partly very dilapidated planks, ladders and slippery paths to the first campsite at Thrasher Cove. The bay is narrow and the tide is very high. Here you should definitely look for a campsite well above the high tide line.

Day 2: Thrasher Cove to Camper Bay, 7/9 km*, 4:30 to 8 hours.

*The shorter route is the beach route, but requires favorable tides.

The second day is the most difficult in terms of planning: Here you absolutely have to pass Owens Point at low tide. From Thrasher Cove it goes just above the sea over large boulders to the end of the bay of Port San Juan . On the left, Kellet Rock - a small overgrown rock - rises picturesquely out of the surf. At Owens Point the trail heads west, crossing a few channels carved deep into the rock.

Thrasher Cove West Coast Trail Canada Camping

Timing is still critical here. After a few caves we go a few meters up onto the reef. At kilometer 66 is the Otter Slide , a steep rocky slab that must be passed at the bottom as the top is mossy and slippery. Many accidents have occurred here. Buoys mark the entrance from the beach to the forest path. The last 4 kilometers of the day lead over hill and dale to the Camper Bay Camp in Camper Creek.

My advice

Depending on the tide table, you can vary your overnight stay. The path from Trhasher Cove to the Otter slide should be done when the water level is low, as the path through the forest is overgrown! Otherwise you would miss a section of the route with a beautiful landscape!

West Coast Trail, Stages 3 & 4: Camper Creek - Cribs Creek

Far from any civilization: The 21 kilometers from Camper Creek to Cribs Creek lead through the most remote part of the West Coast Trail on Vancouver Island.

Wide sandy beaches, suspension bridges, steep ladders, seals, offshore reefs and, with a bit of luck, passing gray whales make the route between Camper Creek and Cribs Creek an almost magical experience!

Day 3: Camper Creek - Walbran Creek, 9.2 km, 5 - 8 hours,

Stormy weather on the West Coast trail Canada. Big waves crash on the rocky shore.

The Camper Bay campsite is well protected behind an offshore sandbank. The brave can swim here. The third day's route largely leads through the ancient rainforest of the Pacific Rim National Park. After 4 kilometers you reach Cullite Creek at kilometer 58. This is where most of the ladders on the entire trail have to be overcome. The bay of Cullite is a good place to rest for lunch. You can also pitch your tent here. We continue towards Logan Creek . A suspension bridge has made the hike a little less difficult since 2021. After another 3 kilometers you reach Walbran Creek - a campsite with a wide sandy beach and a lagoon.

Day 4: Walbran Creek - Cribs Creek, 10.5 km, 3:30 - 6 hrs.

On the fourth day the path leads along the beach. You pass Bonilla Point and Carmanah Creek before seeing the Carmanah Lighthouse at kilometer 44. After another two kilometers you reach the campsite for the fourth night in Cribs Creek . The offshore reef invites you to explore (without a heavy backpack).

West Coast Trail, Stages 5 - 7: Cribs Creek - Pachena Bay

The finishing line is in sight! The last three stages of the West Coast Trail are rather relaxed compared to the previous days.

Day 5: Cribs Creek - Tsusiat Falls, 17.6 km, 6 - 9 hours,

On the fifth day the most kilometers are covered. From Cribs Creek the first part goes along the beach. Whether you can walk to Dare Point on the beach or in the forest depends on the tide. There is an old anchor on the beach at Dare Point. Shortly afterwards the path leads up a ladder to the cliffs. At 37.5 km, half of the West Coast Trail is done! 1.5 kilometers further the Cheetwhat River flows into the sea. Shortly thereafter, some ruins mark the former village of Ditidaht, inhabited by the First Nations. The mouth of Lake Nitinaht into the sea can only be crossed by a paid ferry. The famous Crab Shak, the only restaurant on the WCT, is also located here. At kilometer 27, another highlight awaits you: Tsusiat Point : Depending on the tide, you can climb the rock arch above the sea. The campsite for the fifth night, Tsusiat Waterfalls , is particularly beautiful - a wide sandy beach with a waterfall.

Tsusiat Point West Coast Trail Canada rock arch

Day 6: Tsusiat Falls - Michigan Creek, 12.9 km, 3:30 - 5 hours,

Day 6 starts with a beach walk. At Trestle Creek the path leads to the cliffs. From here you have a great view of the sea and the offshore reef, where many ships used to wreck.

Two red chairs placed by Parks Canada provide a nice resting place with a view of the “ Valencia Buffs ,” the spot where the Valencia sank in 1906. The path leads through the forest to Tsocowis Creek. The further route to the Darling River again depends on the tides. The last campsite is Michigan at kilometer 13.

Day 7: Michigan Creek - Pachena Bay - 12 km, 3 - 4 hours.

The final and seventh day features a comfortable, relatively flat and easy 12km hiking trail. Only the first two kilometers are slightly uphill and downhill to the Pachena Lighthouse , the only wooden lighthouse in Western America. Shortly afterwards a small path branches off to the sea. Here you can admire a large colony of sea lions . The last 9 km lead through the forest to the end of the West Coast Trail at Pachena Beach.


There is extensive information about the West Coast Trail in English and French on the Parks Canada page  . Here you will find everything you need to know and you can also book the permit here ( from January for the same year).


There are several scheduled flights every day from Germany to Vancouver. An electronic travel document (eTA) is required to enter Canada.

From Vancouver by bus and ferry to Victoria or Nanaimo. From both towns the West Coast Trail Express runs to Port Renfrew and Bamfield respectively, the start and end points of the hike ( ).


The West Coast Trail is open from May 1st. until September 30th open, after which there are no more ferries.


The West Coast Trail (WCT) is very popular . Only about 100 hikers are allowed per day and they must reserve (well) in advance: reservation fee (all prices in Canadian dollars) $25.75, WCT overnight fee $160, Gordon River ferry $28, Nitinaht Village ferry 28¢, National park entry 10.50¢ per day (the Parks Canada Discovery Pass is worth it for $72.25, which is valid for one year at all Parcs Canada facilities. Telephone +1-519-826-5391 (international). Bookings are usually possible from mid-January for the same year.


When you register, you will receive the detailed “ West Coast Trail Map ” from Parks Canada. It also contains a current tide calendar.

You can also download it in advance here :


Coastal Bliss offers the West Coast Trail as a complete package including permit booking, transport, food and camping equipment.


Your backpack should weigh no more than 25-30% of your body weight.

Equipment West Coast Trail Canada Outdoor

Packing list:

Well-worn in and, above all, waterproof hiking boots, warm and weatherproof clothing, sleeping bag, sleeping mat and an absolutely waterproof tent are essential. Useful: trekking poles and gaiters. Backpack with rain cover, pack things inside again in plastic bags. Stove, hiking map with current tide table (you will receive when registering), rope (clothesline, abseiling), first aid kit, cell phone, toilet paper.

You can find a detailed packing list on the Parks Canada website:


With the exception of the “ Crab Shak ” restaurant at kilometer 33, there are no catering options. You must take the necessary food plus 2-3 days of safety supplies with you . There are no waste containers - this means: Please take all waste with you to the end and dispose of it there.

If you want to treat yourself to delicacies before your hike that you have to miss out on along the way, this is the place for you Coastal Kitchen in Port Renfrew just right. Here you can find everything that won't be available in the next few days: from cakes to salads and steaks to cappuccinos.

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