West Coast Trail Backpack

Victoria, British Columbia

Trip Highlights

  • World Famous Backpacking Itinerary
  • Stunning Beach & Coastal Rainforest Hiking
  • Opportunity for Viewing Wildlife
  • Amazing Coastal Waterfalls
  • Exciting Suspension Bridges, Ladders and Cable Cars
  • Spectacular Sunsets

Description

This Canada Backpacking Trip is considered one of the World’s top itineraries to hike and we know exactly why it gets this label. This unique challenging route has so much to offer to those that put in the effort to embark on this unforgettable adventure. Our path is along the West Coast of Vancouver Island in British Columbia hiking along spectacular stretches of coastline and through stunning indigenous coastal rainforests. This trek, however, is not for the faint of heart with over 70 steep ladders to climb, multiple hanging suspension bridges to cross, high cable cars to traverse, and challenging terrain to navigate throughout our 7-day adventure.

There are great possibilities along the way to view not only terrestrial wildlife, but lots of aquatic species as well including whales, orcas, seals, sea lions, otters, and many more. There are many intriguing tidal pools to explore along the way, showcasing amazingly abundant ecosystems in the intertidal zones of our walk. All these highlights combined with world class hikes, fabulous coastal waterfalls, scenic beach campsites, fascinating local history, and opportunities for stunning sunsets should make this trip float to the top of even the most seasoned backpacker’s bucket list. Come see what all the buzz is about and let us plan your next unforgettable backpacking adventure!

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From
$2975 Per Person
Return Guests get a 10% discount on all Trips!
Trip Type: Guided Backpacking Trip
Difficulty Level:
Solitude Level:
Group Size: 6-8 Guests
Trip Length: 7 Days
Distance: 46.6MI / 75KM

DIFFICULTY LEVEL 5

Scale of 1-5. 1 is least difficult; 5 is most difficult

SUMMARY OF DIFFICULTY
This trip though mostly low in daily elevation changes and traveling moderate distances is considered extremely difficult. Much of the trip crosses steep wet technical terrain through a rugged and remote coastal rainforest wilderness with heavy backpack weights. There is a day with 10+ miles hiked and sections with extreme heights exposure due to bridges, cables cars and ladders being needed to traverse many parts of this route. All these factors combined is why this trip is given a Level 5 difficulty rating.

Hiking Distances:

Up to 10.3 miles (16.5 km)

Backpack Weight:

45+ lbs (20.4+ kg)

Terrain:

Extremely Rugged

Max Daily Elev. ↑↓:

Gains up to 1,330 feet (405 m)

Heights Exposure:

Extreme

Please Note: Terrain, Elevation Gain and Heights Exposure ratings reflect the section or day of the trip with the maximum difficulty of each. Much of the trip is at easier levels. See the trip itinerary for more detailed information. Backpack Weight ratings are estimates that account for Wildland-provided gear, guest clothing, personal items and a share of group food. By packing light it’s often possible to stay on the lower end of the weight range. Pack weights also decrease during the trip.

PHYSICAL DEMANDS OF THIS TRIP

  • Hiking uphill or downhill with a 45+ lb backpack for 8-10 hours
  • Maintaining balance and footing on variable, uneven, wet/muddy, difficult terrain (coastal sandy, rocky and muddy rainforest terrain)
  • Climbing near vertical ladder systems, crossing high suspension bridges and traversing cable cars in wet conditions
  • Potential for harsh, rainy and foggy weather conditions.
  • Hiking with occasional extreme heights exposure
* For an official and complete list of physical requirements, please see our Essential Eligibility Criteria.

SOLITUDE LEVEL 2

1 least solitude, 5 most solitude

We rate this Canada hike a solitude 2. You can expect to have some solitude, as much as an hour at a time without seeing other groups on this popular route.

BOOKING FLIGHTS

For this Canadian Backpacking trek you will need to fly into Victoria International Airport (YYJ) the day before the trip starts in time to attend a mandatory Orientation meeting starting at 6PM at the Royal Scot Hotel in Victoria. Flights should arrive by 4PM to allow time for customs, baggage and travel to this meeting. Flights to and from Victoria International Airport are the guest’s responsibility. Multiple airlines operate flights into Victoria from many Canadian international airports (Calgary, Edmonton, Toronto, Vancouver). The only U.S. departure cities include San Francisco & Seattle. The duration of nonstop flights is 2-5 hours.

It is recommended to plan your departure travel for the following date after the final day of this trip. If planning to depart the final day of this trip, please plan any departure flights from Victoria after 10:00 PM the final day of your hike. This should give ample time to get to the airport in time to check-in and catch your flight upon the group’s arrival back to Victoria, usually between 6-8PM, but a specific group arrival time cannot be guaranteed on the final day of this trip for a variety of reasons.

Airport to Town

Multiple rental car companies are available at the Victoria airport along with multiple Taxi service and scheduled public transportation options (BC Transit).

BC Transit Trip Planner

*There is also the possibility to travel to Vancouver and use a ferry service or other transportation options to get to Victoria.

We require a minimum of 6 guests to confirm this trip. If a trip date is not confirmed yet, you can register and will be notified when the trip is officially confirmed. We recommend not making final travel arrangements until your trip meets the minimum number of guests and is confirmed.

In most cases, if a trip does not reach the minimum number of guests, you may choose to transfer to another trip date or another trip, be refunded your payments in full, or you may have the choice to pay a supplemental fee to run the trip with fewer guests. We make the final determination for these trips 60 days before the departure date.

Private Trips

Travel in perfect company by booking a private trip exclusively for your group!

Our sliding scale for private trips is based on the final number of guests in your group. Rates are per person and do not include sales tax, national park fees or guide gratuity. The final rate is based on the actual number of guests on the trip and may adjust based on cancellations or additions.

Please Note: you can also enjoy a private trip at our normal scheduled rates by filling any empty tour to capacity. However, if group members drop from the tour those spots will automatically become available on our website for instant booking. By purchasing a private trip at the rates listed below, your trip will remain exclusive to your group regardless of cancellations. 

Private Rates For This Trip

  • 2-3 People: 6 x Regular Rate x 1.5
  • 4-5 People: 6 x Regular Rate x 1.25
  • 6-7 People: Regular Rate x 1.15
  • 8 People: Regular Rate

*all rates are per person

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ITINERARY

ITINERARY

Pre-trip Arrival

You will need to arrive the day before your trip in time to attend a mandatory orientation meeting at 6:00 PM in the Royal Scot Hotel (425 Quebec Street, Victoria, British Columbia, V8V 1W7, CANADA) lobby. Your guide will cover introductions, a thorough briefing of your route, hand out group and personal gear and answer any last-minute questions you may have. Our group will meet at the Royal Scot hotel in Victoria the following morning for transport to the trailhead together. Dinner & lodging is on your own tonight; make sure you have a hearty meal and a good night’s sleep as tomorrow we hit the West Coast Trail!

Day 1

  • Driving Duration:  2.5 hours
  • Hiking Mileage: 3.1 miles (5 km)
  • Elevation Gain: 1329 feet (405 m)
  • Elevation Loss: 1365 feet (416 m)

Our West Coast Trail Backpacking trip begins with pick-up from your hotel in Victoria. We’ll drive 2.5 hours down a mostly winding road to the Parks Canada office at the Gordan River. Here our group will get an official orientation meeting from the Park on our trip, which is required for all groups venturing into this wilderness. Once complete we’ll load up our gear on to the local ferry boat and head off to the start of our hike. The trek today, though a shorter distance than our other days, starts very challenging with one of our steepest ladders on the whole trip and quickly introduces us to this area’s rugged wet terrain. Our much deserved camp today is at Trasher Cove. Here we’ll set up our homes for the night and enjoy our first evening and dinner together.

Camp along the Vancouver Island Coast

Day 2

  • Hiking Mileage: 4.8 miles (7.8 km)
  • Elevation Gain: 1175 feet (359 m)
  • Elevation Loss: 1120 feet (341 m)

Waking to the smell of coffee or tea and a delicious breakfast, we’ll pack up and throw on our backpacks and continue our hike. Some consider today to be one of the most challenging days of the trip. It is mainly due to rough coastal walking including crawling over large boulders and drift wood piles while negotiating surge channels throughout the day. What an adventure! We are rewarded with exceptional views all day, especially from the famous Owen’s Point. Camp tonight is in Campers Bay, properly named eh. A hot dinner and a warm sleeping bag is always much appreciated after our action packed day.

Day 3

  • Hiking Mileage: 5.7 miles (9.2 km)
  • Elevation Gain: 1070 feet (325 m)
  • Elevation Loss: 1000 feet (305 m)

After packing up camp and breakfast, we start our adventurous hike with our first cable car crossing. Today’s path is full of exciting suspension bridges, ladders and cable cars. One of the highlights is the high bridge over Logan Creek. We’ll have a lunch prepared by your guide along the way and camp tonight is at Walbran Creek. As the backpacks get lighter the views get better!

Day 4

  • Hiking Mileage: 7.1 miles (11.5 km)
  • Elevation Gain: 1060 feet (323 m)
  • Elevation Loss: 1050 feet (320 m)

Today is full of the highlights this trail is known for: sandstone shelves, exceptional coastal views, the potential for unique wildlife sightings and the historic Carmanah Lighthouse. Often whales and orcas can be seen in the distance and sea lions are also common along this stretch of the trail. We’ll continue on to eventually reach our night’s camp at Cribs Creek. If we are lucky we may get a clear Western sunset view tonight while we dine.

Day 5

  • Hiking Mileage: 10.3 miles (16.5 km)
  • Elevation Gain: 1043 feet (318 m)
  • Elevation Loss: 1102 feet (336 m)

Today might be the longest hike we have, but it is filled with rewards and trail side treasures along the way. After a morning of beach walking with killer views and maybe even killer whales, we’ll reach the local crab shack at Nitinat Narrows to have lunch. Soon after we’ll take our second boat ferry of the trip and continue our hike towards Tsusiat Point and the unique “Hole in the Wall” feature there. Our day ends at maybe the most popular camps along our route, Tsusiat Falls. Here a waterfall comes right down on the beach and creates a great pool for some fresh water swimming!

Day 6

  • Hiking Mileage: 8.1 miles (13 km)
  • Elevation Gain: 525 feet (160 m)
  • Elevation Loss: 623 feet (190 m)

After waking up to more delicious hot drinks and breakfast prepared by your guide, we’ll head out with the goal of reaching the scenic Michigan Creek for camp. We start almost immediately with climbing ladders and some rainforest hiking, but don’t worry we also get to walk along the beach today. The exciting part of the day comes with a long cable car crossing of the emerald green waters of the Kianawa River. Here some stellar teamwork will be needed from our group to pull our way across in groups of 2. We will eventually reach our camp tonight, which has a  mixture of forest tent sites and beach sites all with great views. Enjoy your last night out on the trail, for tomorrow we complete our trek!

Day 7

  • Hiking Mileage: 7.5 miles (12 km)
  • Elevation Gain: 1168 feet (356 m)
  • Elevation Loss: 1135 feet (346 m)
  • Driving Duration: 4 hours

Today marks our final day of our coastal hiking adventure and gives way to some easier walking. Our trail comes to an end with our final set of ladders at the historic Pachena Lighthouse. Here hopefully we’ll get another glimpse of some sea lions while we enjoy our last lunch before we catch our group’s shuttle and head back to drop everyone off in Victoria. What a week it has been!

Please Note: We always do everything in our power to follow the set itinerary, however occasionally trips are subject to itinerary changes based on a variety of circumstances, including but not limited to: lodging/campground availability, extreme weather, political or bureaucratic obstacles, earthquakes, fires, flooding and more. Normal terms and conditions apply to trips with itinerary changes. Elevation gains and losses day to day can vary depending on a trip dates actual tide chart and the availability to walk along the coast vs. in the forest.

Trip Dates & Booking

TRIP DATES & BOOKING

Click on a date to register. You can also click here to request new dates or book through customer service.

Available to Book

AVAILABLE TO BOOK

This trip is available and bookable online! Click on the date to register now or contact us online to book through our award-winning customer service team!

Going Fast

GOING FAST

This trip has 1 or 2 spots remaining and is bookable online! Click on the date to book now or contact us online to book through customer service.

Request a Reservation

REQUEST A RESERVATION

This trip is exclusively booked through customer service due to logistics with lodging, permits, staffing, availability, or something else. Please contact us online or call us at 800-715-HIKE (4453) to request a reservation.

Don't see your dates? Call us! We may be able to add new trip dates.

800-715-HIKE (4453)

Trip Details

Trip Details

What's Included

  • A detailed trip packet that takes the guesswork out of your travel, training, packing, and preparing for the trip
  • Trained hiking guide(s) with years of personal wilderness and hiking experience, medical certifications, and a passion for leading people into breathtaking landscapes. See Guide Bios.
  • Transportation for the duration of the tour starting on Day 1 and ending on the last day in Victoria
  • Gear including multi-day backpack, tent, sleeping pad, trekking poles and more
  • High quality, synthetic sleeping bag (professionally laundered after every use) – or bring your own
  • All meals from Lunch on Day 1 through lunch on the last day
  • Emergency equipment including a company-issued first-aid kit and communication device (Garmin InReach or satellite phone)
  • A Lifetime Hiking Membership entitling you, your spouse and dependents to a discount of 10% off any Wildland hiking trip after your first one (must book directly with us to receive the discount)!

What's Not Included

  • Transportation to Victoria, British Columbia
  • Accommodations or meals in Victoria
  • Trip insurance that includes medical coverage and at least $200,000 in evacuation and repatriation coverage (required for this trip)
  • All expenses due to unavoidable events e.g. flight cancellation, personal illness, strikes, etc. (we strongly recommend trip insurance coverage for these variables)
  • Clothes, rain gear, and footwear (see recommendations)
  • Sunscreen, toiletries and personal items
  • Water bottles and a headlamp or flashlight
  • Extra drinks & snacks at any businesses along the trail
  • Gratuity for guide(s) and crew (industry recommendation is 10-20% of total trip cost; please tip your lead guide and they can distribute responsibly to the crew. Canadian Dollar recommended or USD is acceptable)

Click here to see a printable, downloadable trip information packet with more detailed guidance about what to pack.

Meals: What to Expect

All of our hiking and backpacking tours include a diversity of tasty meals packed full of critical carbohydrates, proteins and fats. We carry foods that travel well in the backcountry – rice, pastas, lentils, beans, couscous, packaged meats, nuts, breads, oatmeal, granola, and more.

For optimal taste and energy, we supplement all our meals with spices, herbs, oils, cheeses, butter, sugar, and fruits and vegetables (fresh and dried). In addition, we provide you with with an assortment of trail mix, snacks, and dried fruits to eat at your own discretion.

We regularly accommodate vegan, vegetarian, kosher and non-gluten diets and will make adjustments for food allergies. These and other special dietary requests may require an additional fee.

Gear We Provide

We provide all group gear which includes the following:

  • Deuter or Osprey backpacks (w/ rain cover)
  • MSR, Kelty or Big Agnes tents
  • Synthetic-fill sleeping bags (or bring your own)
  • Thermarest or Big Agnes sleeping pads
  • Leki trekking poles
  • Cooking stoves and cookware
  • Bear spray and food canisters
  • Company-issued first-aid kit
  • Emergency communication device(s)

Guest Packing List

When you register for this tour you’ll receive access to a printable, downloadable trip information packet with a detailed packing list specific to this trip (click here to see it now.) All trips require a sturdy pair of hiking shoes or hiking boots, rain gear, a recommended clothing system, a headlamp or flashlight, a hydration system (water bottles and/or bladder) and other items specific to each trip.

Additionally, some guests choose to bring their own sleeping bag. We supply high quality, synthetic fill bags that are professionally laundered after every trip. Synthetic fill is non-allergenic, insulates when damp and stands up well to repeated washings, but is heavier and bulkier than down. If you’re able to bring your own down sleeping bag, there are multiple benefits. If not, we’ve got you covered!

Trip Logistics

Trip Logistics

How Do I Register?

Reserve your spot today! In the Trip Dates & Booking section of this page, the green and red dates are bookable online by simply clicking on the date, and blue dates must be booked through our customer service team for a variety of possible reasons. To email our customer service team, you can click here to get the ball rolling. Our adventure consultants will confirm availability, and if you’re ready to register we’ll email you a link to a registration profile. You’ll have 72 hours to complete your profile (and that of any dependents) and pay the deposit.

Feel free to call us for more info – we’re here 7 days a week!

Where Do We Meet?

You’ll meet your hiking guide and group in Victoria, British Columbia for a mandatory orientation meeting at 6:00 PM the evening before the trip begins at the Royal Scot Hotel (425 Quebec Street, Victoria, British Columbia, V8V 1W7, CANADA). It is recommended to plan arrival flights to land by 4:00PM to allow time for baggage, customs and travel to the hotel in time for this mandatory meeting. Your guide will cover introductions, a thorough briefing of your route, hand out group and personal gear and answer any last-minute questions you may have. Your guide will let you know what time the following morning to meet and depart from the Royal Scot Hotel hotel in Victoria for transport to the trailhead together.

Our Canada communications team will be in contact approximately 45 days before your trip and will specify the exact time & location of the orientation meeting at that point if there are changes from the above time/location.

Click here to see a printable, downloadable trip information packet with more detailed guidance about flights, shuttles, recommended lodging and more.

Safety Precautions

Your safety is our top priority. Our hiking tours are led by professional hiking guides, all of whom are wilderness-certified first responders or EMT’s, each with years of guiding and wilderness experience. Guides adhere to standardized risk management protocols in case of any potential or actual incident, and all tours carry an emergency communication device and comprehensive first-aid kit. Additionally we have a “24/7” system through which guides or guests can reach Wildland support personnel at any time.

In the interest of your safety, it’s important to refer to the Center for Disease Control website for up-to-date recommendations on immunizations before your trip.

Guides

Our approach to international travel is to combine the best of two worlds: the dialed-in details, professionalism and consistency Wildland trips are known for; and the cultural immersion and intimate regional knowledge that only locals can provide. To excel with this approach, we vet and hire the best local guides, welcome them into the Wildland family and train them to meet our standard of excellence with every aspect of a trip. But along with managing logistics and safety, your guides will teach you about the area’s history and culture, and provide a level of familiarity and intimate detail only locals can.

Check out our Meet Our Team page for staff bios.

Guide Working Parameters

Guides are required to take 8 hours off each 24-hour period to sleep, recuperate, take personal/down time…etc. In addition, as part of the 8 hours off they must sleep/rest or be in their tents/rooms uninterrupted for a minimum of 5 hours each night. We ask guests to respect these requirements and to not interrupt guides’ off time and sleep time unless there is a true emergency.

Age Restrictions

Age restrictions on this trip are as follows:

  • 12 and older to join scheduled tours (mixed groups)
  • 6 and older to join private tours, with final approval and specific logistical requirements (such as porter or stock assist) determined on a case by case basis. However Parks Canada does not recommend this trip for anyone under 12 years of age due to the difficulty and common weather conditions of this itinerary.

Trip Insurance

Field evacuation, repatriation, and medical insurance is required on this trip as a condition of partnership terms with our Canadian vendors (field evacuation and repatriation minimum coverage is a combined $200,000 USD).

If you need to purchase field evacuation, repatriation, or medical insurance we recommend IMG/iTravelinsured. They are one of the world’s leading providers of travel insurance and policies meet all Alps requirements.

For information on the recommended IMG/iTravelinsured policies please click here.

For even greater information, or if you simply prefer communicating with a real, live person, feel free to contact our exclusive agent Michael Bennett. Michael will help you identify the best product for your needs, and there is no cost associated with his assistance. You may contact him at:

Email: [email protected]
US by Phone: 877-305-9083
Direct/International by Phone: 702-448-3664

If you already have the required insurance or wish to purchase from anyone other than IMG/iTravelinsured, we recommend careful consultation with the provider to ensure appropriate coverage. This is because many providers have a number of policy exclusions.

Weather on Vancouver Island

The weather in British Columbia along the West Coast Trail on the coast of Vancouver Island is considered very unpredictable and is labeled as a marine temperate climate. This coastal rainforest commonly has morning cover of heavy fog and significant rainfall is common year around (yearly average of 130 inches). The average Summer temperature is 57° F (14° C), but high and low averages will be more extreme than this general average. We recommend being prepared for a range of conditions by packing layered, non-cotton clothing, and having high quality waterproof and breathable rain gear (jackets and pants). For a more comprehensive packing list, please refer to the detailed trip packet that you can download from this page and receive it when you register.

Month Hi Low Precipitation / Days
June 61° F 48° F 105mm / 22 days
July 64° F 51° F 61mm / 13 days
August 66° F 51° F 75mm / 15 days
September 64° F 48° F 103mm / 20 days

Accommodations

Accommodations

BACKCOUNTRY SLEEPING

TENT CAMPING

Sleeping on this trip is in premier 1-person or 2-person backcountry tents. Top-of-the-line self-inflating sleeping pads and sleeping bags (professionally laundered after every trip) are also provided.

BACKCOUNTRY CUISINE

FRESH & DELICIOUS

Meals from lunch Day 1 through lunch the last day are fully included and prepared by your guide. We never use prepackaged dehydrated backpacking meals, instead serving freshly prepared, delicious backcountry cuisine made with a variety of common and specialty ingredients that travel well in the wilderness.

AMAZING CAMPSITES

IN THE ACTION

Of course campsites vary tremendously by destination, trip and even by the individual day of a trip. However, you can expect to camp in beautiful areas that put you right in the action to make the most of your backpacking adventure. We carefully design our itineraries with campsites in mind.

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