Frequently Asked Questions of the West Coast Trail

What is the Contact information for the West Coast Trail Trailheads (Pacific Rim national park)?

West Coast Trail Information Centre(Pachena Bay) - Phone/Fax: (250) 728-3234

West Coast Trail Information Centre(Gordon River) - Phone: (250) 647-5434 Fax: (250) 647-0016

Trailhead offices Open daily 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., (May 1 to Oct. 5)

Pacific Rim National Park Reserve Administration Office - Phone250-726-3500 (year-round)

Pacific Rim National Park Reserve Resource Conservation & Park Warden Office - phone: 1-877-852-3100 (24 hours, toll-free)

Park Information Centre - Phone:250-726-4212 Open daily mid-March – mid October

What are the west coast trail orientation sessions?

All overnight users of the West Coast Trail participate in an orientation session and obtain a WCT Overnight Use Pemit,

Orientation sessions are offered at 9:30AM, 1:00 PM, and 3:30 PM at both WCT Information Centres.

The purpose of the orientation is to:

    reduce the number of hiker injuries by addressing common safety issues;
    reduce environmental impacts by providing backcountry etiquette information;
    • provide information about current issues and trail conditions;
    provide a brief history of the West Coast Trail and its place in Canada’s heritage;
    issue the WCT Overnight Use Permits and collect fees.
    answer questions.

Quick Notes:

    Reservations are not necessary for orientation sessions.
    The orientation process takes about 1½ hours.
    Hikers may register and participate in an orientation session as early as 3:30 PM the day before their hike starts.
    We strongly recommend hikers start the trail a minimum of 5 hours before sunset to ensure a camping area is reached before nightfall.
    If your party will arrive after 1:00pm on the reserved start date you must contact the WCT Information Centre nearest their starting trailhead to prevent their reserved spaces from being given to hikers on stand-by.

The trail heads are located near towns of Port Renfrew (south) and Bamfield (north). There is also an exit trailhead located at the northern tip of the nitnat narrows.

West Coast Trailhead: Bamfield

View Larger Map

West Coast Trailhead: Port Renfrew

View Larger Map

Surge chanels are breaks or crevases in the sandstone shelf that funnel crashing wave water up into poowerful spurts of water. THey can range from a slight crack to a inpassible rift between two points.

west coast trail surge2 - between thrashers and campers
west coast trail surge1 - between thrashers and campers

Logan Creek Ladder west coast trail

I really enjoyed the ladders, and can really only remember one set that kinda got me concerned, and for the lie of me I can't remember where it was.

Since this may be your first experience using ladders while wearing a backpack, here are a few safety tips:

west coast Trail ladderswest coast Trail ladders 2
    Descending hikers have the right of way,
    Always face in when using the ladders,
    Pace yourself and take rests on the platforms,
    Allow plenty of space between hikers,
    Make sure the way is clear before you descend,
    Be wary for loose, slippery, or missing fungs,
    if you are afraid of heights, concentrate on putting your feet and hands on one rung at a time and try avoid looking down.

Like many of the answers given, it depends. It depends on your skill level and also the type of weather you'll encounter.

I took a pair of asolo and found them to be extremely comfortable, but I think next time I might also take a pair of

West Coast Trail Sore Feet

There are two types of foot modes during the trail. The hiking mode and the resting mode (or cruising around camp mode).

The two types of foot wear you should think about taking is a
- pair of light weight trail shoes.
- pair of sandels or aqua shoes.

Do I need to filter water on the west coast trail

The pristine nature of the west coast trail may look innocent but the shear amount of people and wildlife that frequent the fresh bodies of water makes the likelihood of parasites very probable. There are a number of methods to getting clean water but the three mentioned here are probably the most trail friendly to execute.


Every morning when cooking your breakfast (or whatever) boil a few litres for 5 to 10 mins to assist in killing off the bugs, and except for a few places, there always seemed to be places to access the myriad of creeks and rivers along the way. We were quite confident with the filter but did at times (especially in areas where the was the potential for people bathing was great) add a purifying tablet to our camel backs.


The boardwalks, built to keep the nearly 7K hikers off the sensitive vegetation, exist in a variety of states: from pristine to non-walkable.

Regardless, these walkways can be tricky. The moisture from the breaking coastal water, the forest floor mud, the rainforest dew, etc. will make almost every step on the boardwalk slippery, so in the least take caution not to loose your footing. Also, many sections have come under a serious state of disrepair and have become rotten so the threat of breaking through is present.

In most cases walking around these extreme rotten sections is possible

There are many options to chose from at both ends of the west coast trail.

The South End/Port Renfrew (Gordon River Trail Head):

Port Renfrew has a couple of larger hotels/motels, as well as many bed and breakfast - but for the hardcore hiker there is also more beach camping at a couple of camp grounds./p>


We stayed here prior to our trip and enjoyed it!, the west coast trail bus picks you up right at the end of the drive and there are numerous, relatively secure parking lots right there as well

The North End/Bamfield (Pachena Trail Head):


Bamfield Trails HotelOn the main street in Bamfield tel: 1-250-728-3474

No, one person can definitely manage a cable car but multiple people helping will make the crossing(s) go much faster. Our technique of sending one person accross with the packs and then sending people over allowed our group to function pretty quick. With many hikers, either platform can become crowded quickly so getting people and packs off platforms efficiently greatly reduced .

More specifically to cable car operation, a certain base technique can be applied. Each cable car is limited to two individuals. And, If two people are available, one person should hold the car steady at the platform, while the other person loads the packs into the centre of the car. That person then boards the car and in most cases will require a shove off from the platform. The car will usually coast quickly along to the centre, or low point of the cable. Avoid bouncing, or flailing arms, as these can cause the car or your fingers to disengage. The real work begins halfway, as effort is now required to haul the car to the opposite shore. Generally it will be easier for out-car people to pull the car than for the in-people in the car, so always try to have someone pulling from one or both platform. The design of the cable car system (clothes-line-estc) allows for people on either platfoprm to pull the car acccross.

Climbing Roots on the West Coast Trail

The west coast trail is 75+ km hiking while carrying everything you need difficult. It's not for the the faint of heart. The trail has it's moments where you question your sanity but never once did I feel as if I couldn't go on. This was especially true once I was able to rest after a grueling section. The most difficult sections I found were the last 25 - 30 km (or just under half) as it contained the ladders, serious elevation changes and log crossings.

There are many points where you'll need to scramble up a bed of roots.

Trail View 3 (640 x 200)

While not impossible to get lost, it would be very difficult to do it successfully. There are times which seem like you've strayed from the trail but once off the trail you'll know it, because you will be either very wet or very leafy. The trail itself is for the most part wide, debris free, and well maintained.

Trail View Small(300x400)

You will likely find that more difficult section of trail to follow is the interior trail at the south end (the Port Renfrew/Gordon river), it is the most rugged section of the trail and and has sections of trail that cross rock and rubble.

Trail View 2-small(300x230)

When on the beach sections you won't worry as much about getting lost but missing you entrance point. In most sections you can just bush whack your way back onto the trail, but most places have a well defined "enter here" sign. This sign comes in the form of a hanging array of washed ashored boat bouys that get hung in the trees near these entrance points.

Bouys at entrance-small(646x245)

Entry and service fees are charged at most national parks and national historic sites, where revenues are kept to support visitor services and facilities. This means that every time you visit a park or site you are investing in its future — and in a legacy for future generations.

please visit the trail website for more details

Yes, when we were on the trail there was three places to purchase food.

  • The crab shack at the Nitnat Narrows.
  • The ever famous Chez moniques, located around 44 Km (just past the Carmanah Lighthouse.
  • And third place, (name eludes me at this time) that is located around Km that you can get crab or salmon at. It was new at the time we passed it and you had to divert from the main path to get to it. The operator also allowed you to stay his beach for the night if you needed.

I would suggest you bring 25 m of a sturdy nylon rope or cord. One that is the rated for weight more than the heaviest person potential going to use it, because the three most common uses that a rope will find its self preforming on the west coast trail is. lashing a tarp, hanging food and/or lifting a person (at surge channels, steep elevation changes).

Exercise caution when using a trail found rope. Inspect it for frays or tears, etc.We did find two general use ropes during the trail. One assisting trekkers of the climbing a bordwalk section by the Nit Nat Narrows. *// insert pic //

The West Coast Trail is located on the south west coast of Vancouver Island, BC - Canada. It is part of the.

Pacific Rim National Park.

ViewWest Coast Trail in a larger map

Vehicles can be left at a number of locations near the trailheads. Ask for details at the WCT Information Centres.

To Pachena Bay Trailhead, 5 km south of Bamfield:

    Drive on gravel logging roads from Port Alberni (2 hrs) or Duncan (3 hrs).
    Bus from Victoria (4 hrs) , Nanaimo (3 hrs) with West Coast Trail Express.
    Ferry from Port Alberni (4 hrs) with Alberni Marine Transport Ltd.

From Nanaimo

To Gordon River Trailhead, 5 km north of Port Renfrew:

The Gordon River Trailhead has been temporarily relocated. Look for road signs to direct you to the location as you enter Port Renfrew.

    Drive from Victoria via Highway 14 (2 hrs).
    Bus from Victoria (2 hrs) with West Coast Trail Express.

From Victoria, BC

The west coast trail only allows a limited number of people to start the trail each day. The number has been 25 people from either trail head each day. Due to the popularity of the west coast trail, Parks Canada only release tickets one month in advance. (i.e. To buy August tickets you need to wait until July).

There are walks ons but those are limited to 5 a day and require a ticket holder not to show.

To book a ticket click the link below

The West Coast trail is officially open May 1 to September 30. Late July to mid-September usually offers the best weather. The trail's peak season is June 15 to Sept 15th and outside of those dates should be very easy to get onto.

Go here ( for a great resource for obtaining current weather reports for Bamfield, BC (near north trail head).

Historically, the driest time to hike the west coast trail is in late July to mid- August.

Go here ( for current weather reports from the Bamfield trail head (north).

Go here ( for current weather information on the Gordon River trail head.