Vancouver Island/West Coast Trail

From Pachena Bay to Gordon River hike up to 50 miles, with up to 10,000 feet of elevation gain on the west coast of Canada's Vancouver Island. This iconic trip is challenging with around 100 ladders to ascend and descend headlands, rocky beaches to hike, and creeks to ford. Experience tide pools, rock formations, old growth forest, birds and wildlife, and a waterfall that drops right down to the beach.

Getting There

Access trailheads are  Pachena Bay at the trail's north end, Gordon River at the trail's south end, and Nitinaht Village at the trail's mid-point.

On the Trail

The West Coast Trail is one of the iconic coastal routes, located on the west coast of Vancouver island. Some sections of the trail are on sandy beaches. Other sections are on rocky beaches, around headlands. Overland sections of the trail may experience deep mud. There are around a hundred ladders to ascend or descend. In places there are creeks or rivers that must be forded. Trips are typically 3 to 8 days. 

Suggested Itinerary

  • Day 1: Hike 7.2 mi from Pachena Bay to Michigan Creek.
  • Day 2: Hike 7.7 mi to Tsusiat Falls.
  • Day 3: Hike 10.6 mi to Cribs Creek. 
  • Day 4: Hike 7.12 mi to Walbran Creek. 
  • Day 5: Hike 5.79 mi to Camper Bay.
  • Day 6: Hike 4.66 mi to Thrashers Cove. 
  • Day 7: Hike 3.32 mi to Gordon River.


  • The trip requires reservations/permits through the Parks Canada Reservation System. Reservations are typicality allowed from May through September. Reservations per person are expensive. In additional to the fees paid at reservation time, each participant needs a National Park Entry pass, Pacific Rim Annual Pass, or National Discovery Pass. 
  • There is a mandatory orientation session at the start of  a trip, where they stress safety, environmental impact, provide current trail info, and provide some history of the trail.
  • Learn more and get up-to-date info on Parks Canada's West Coast Trail web page.


  • The trail is in the territories of the Huu-ay-aht, Ditidaht and Pacheedaht First Nations.

Information for Leaders

  • Suitable Activities: Backpacking
  • Seasons: May, June, July, August, September
  • Weather: View weather forecast
  • Difficulty: Strenuous
  • Length: 50.0 mi
  • Elevation Gain: 10,000 ft
  • 450 ft

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