West Coast Trail
The West Coast Trail is part of Pacific Rim National Park, and one of Canada’s most famous backpacking trails for its history (it was built in 1909 as a rescue route for survivors of shipwrecks), beauty, and challenging terrain through old growth forests, bogs, and beaches. The route starts at the village of Bamfield, passing through the traditional territory of the Ditidaht, Pacheddaht, and Huu-ay-aht peoples before terminating at Port Renfrew on Port San Juan Bay. Black bears, wolves, cougars, and heavy fog are all in play on the trail. “This is one of the most beautiful and challenging trails you can hike at that length,” says LaRuffa. “There’s a lot of timing it with tides, and negotiating man-made features like big metal ladders and cable car suspensions.”
Time to Complete: 5-7 days
Terrain: Rugged and difficult, from rocky shorelines to stream crossings that require wading.
Best Segment You Can Do In a Day: Pachena Bay Trailhead. There are only two ways to access the West Coast Trail, and that’s from either end (you can’t just jump into a segment midway through). The northern terminus near Bamfiled, at the Pachena Bay Trailhead offers slightly easier terrain. Start there for an out-and-back day hike.
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