The West Coast Trail, located on the traditional territory of the Huu-ay-aht, Ditidaht, and Pacheedaht First Nations, is one of Canada’s most challenging hiking trails. Ladders a few stories high to climb, tide tables to manage, roots that will twist your ankle, and boulders as large as vans to scale.

It also is one of Canada’s most beautiful and interesting trails as it follows the rugged coastline for over 75 km!

 Hiking the West Coast Trail with kids was an incredible experience.

They were 6 and 8 years old at the time and it was hard, challenging, rewarding, exhausting, and amazing all at the same time. It was an experience we will never forget as a family.

But… it is not for all families. In fact, the trail is not recommended for kids under 12 and kids under 6 are not supposed to hike the full trail. (Although, I know of one family that did it with their baby….)

This guide to hiking the West Coast Trail :

  • will probably convince you not to hike the trail with your family.
  • will make you really think whether you want to do the West Coast Trail with your family.
  • will give you a lot of the information you need to hike the trail with your family and also point you to essential resources.
  • has alternate itinerary plans (coming soon) that are more family friendly, and will allow you to enjoy the beauty of the trail without as much risk.

Before I dive in. I wanted to share another project I am working called TrailCollectiv that is Redefining Trails for Families. It is an app that is launching in summer in 2022 ! Follow on social media Instagram and Facebook @trailcollectiv.

TrailCollectiv

Guide to Hiking the West Coast Trail Contents



ACKNOWLEDGMENTS


Special Acknowledgements

(I don’t usually do this but it is necessary)

Before I continue, I want to just say a huge shout out to all the encouraging adults on the trail. We encountered only a few “downers” that put down our family but the vast majority were incredibly uplifting and contributed to our positive experience.

Positivity really makes a difference when you are hiking with little kids. Both for the kids and for us parents.


To the three musketeers for hiking most of the first 3 days with us. We were sad when we had to part because we really enjoyed your company. I know that Etta especially was really looking up to you all. The one moment when we came up and saw JACE written in the sand just cheered me up after being exhausted from hiking the boulder section in the sand.


To the dad that cheered us on as we came late into the beach campsites each day. I cried those days of joy as I was filled with accomplishment. Your encouragement and kind words for our family meant a lot.

To the young lady hiking the full trail there and back in 6 days. You are epic and amazing. What a cool role model for our girls.

To the ladies chanting pizza on our last day. We hiked a km every 16 -20 minutes for that pizza and your chants just encouraged our family more.


READ THIS FIRST….

WHY YOU SHOULDN’T HIKE THE WEST COAST TRAIL?


We hiked this trail with our two kids but do not be fooled into thinking that hiking the West Coast Trail means that the trail is easy. It is hard. Period.


MANY ADULTS struggle to complete the West Coast Trail.


My husband and I are a little crazy.
You have to be a little crazy to hike this trail with kids. I used to be play rugby for the University Team Canada Rugby Seven’s Team and I am used to pushing through challenges. My husband has run 100 km trails in a day and even won his first 50 km race this past year.


Our kids have been on many adventures including outdoor climbing, backcountry trips, snowboarding, and living the van life.

We know them and their ability.


1 in 100 people are evacuated each year on the trail. We met three people on our hike that were evacuated off the West Coast Trail.


You have to be prepared to climb ladders that are over two houses high, some that are completely vertical, and without a rope all with heavy backpacks on. You will also be climbing over large van sized boulders for 3 hours, managing ocean tide schedules, going across tree roots that are as tall as a human, and through mud that can be as deep as your waist.


If the forecast shows rain for your entire trip, you may want to consider cancelling your trip as the trail becomes significantly more challenging when it is wet. We looked up the weather leading up to our hike and had plans to cancel if the weather was miserable.


Still interested in learning more about this trail? Alright… let’s go!


BEST QUOTES ON THE TRAIL


Owen's Point west coast trail

Ok, so now you know why not to hike the trail with your kids. BUT, if you are still hoping to hike the trail, then I wanted to share these quotes that made it 100% worth it for our family to hike it together with our 6 and 8 year old.


“The West Coast Trail is the best obstacle course. It is so much fun” – Our 6 year old after hiking the Boulder Section.


“Thank you for believe in me and thinking that I could do this, Mom” – Our 8 year old after completing the first 3 days which are the hardest.


“I’m hiking for pizza today! Because if I hike fast enough we will finish the hike in time to order pizza.” – Our 8 year old on the last day hiking a 15 minute km to make sure we could get pizza for dinner. She was tired of the backpacking meals.


“I don’t want to be done the West Coast Trail.”
– Our 6 year old when we finished the West Coast Trail.


“Can we do a longer one next time mom?” – Our 8 year old a week after finishing the West Coast Trail.


“Wow, I can’t believe I had so much fun and that we actually just did this with our kids”. – Me after finishing the West Coast Trail.


“We did it. We just did the West Coast Trail with our kids.” – Cam with tears in his eyes after we reached the parks office at the end of our hike.


IMPORTANT INFO


The West Coast Trail is a thru hike located on the far west coast of British Columbia in Canada. This is a wild backcountry trek and not recommended as a first backcountry trip. Being prepared is important. Being prepared also means buying this guide “Blisters and Bliss: A Trekker’s Guide to the West Coast Trail”. Seriously, buy it even if you are considering hiking the trail. It is a fun read.

Take Care of the Earth. It is essential that you follow Leave No Trace Principles when you are on the trail. Many people hike the trail each year and without proper care for the environment the trail will close down.


Booking Challenges. Booking to hike the West Coast Trail is challenging. This trail is popular and lots of people want to make the famous trek across the west coast of Canada. See the booking section to learn more.


There are lots of different ways to hike the West Coast Trail.
There are shorter itinerary options which are great for families with younger children, standard itinerary options, and longer 10 day options. Check out the itinerary section below to learn more.


Some sections of the trail can only be hiked in low tide. There is usually an in land option available if the tide is not cooperating with your schedule. Sometimes there is no other option and you may find yourself waiting to hike.


The trail crew maintains the WCT really well but the West Coast Trail weather is not easy on the landscape. Some Ladders may have rungs that are broken and bridges might have pieces that are broken. I was hiking across a log that busted in half. I was thankful that my balance kept me on the log as it broke and fell two feet and caught myself at the end still standing on the log.


Three Points of Contact. When climbing the ladders, have three points of contact. If a leg or a hand slips, you will have other support to help you. Practice this with your children at home and remind them while hiking the trail. I have seen pictures of people who have fallen off of the ladders, often when they become too confident, and it is not pretty.


The trail is wet, there is lots of mud, and the trail is very slippery. The boardwalks, ladders, and bridges can be very slippery even in dryer weather. I was surprised because our family hiked in a dryer year and had only some rain, and we encountered mud as deep as our knees. Most of the times we could avoid the deep mud by traversing on a log of piece of wood. It did take some navigating.


Most water crossings are done by cable car but don’t rely on them. Sometimes the cable cars are broken which means that you have to walk through the water or turn back the way you came. In the early hiking season or if it has been a wet year, a crossing can be very dangerous. I heard of a lady that needed rescuing by other hikers as the ocean was going to sweep her and her pack away while they were crossing as the river and ocean meet. I saw a video of the water and it was terrifying. We booked later in the season for that reason because we knew that something like that would be more challenging and dangerous with our kids.


ABOUT THE WCT


The West Coast Trail is located on the traditional territory of the Huu-ay-aht, Ditidaht, and Pacheedaht First Nations.

Originally called the Dominion Life Saving Trail, the WCT was created for survivors of ship wrecks along the West Coast. Pieces of the shipwrecks are still scattered across the beach and inland today! In 1970, the trails name changed to the West Coast Trail when the Pacific Rim National Park was created and now the hike is a buckletist for many adventurers.

The diverse terrain passes through rain forest, across bridges, boardwalks, through tunnels, up ladders, down ladders and along sandy and rocky beaches. The trail is found on the far West Side of Vancouver Island and is one of the most challenging through treks in Canada.

Beachside campsites, pristine swimming holes, waterfalls tumbling down on the beach make the WCT one of the most spectacular backcountry trails in the world.

The trail can be completed from South to North (hardest to easiest) or North to South (easiest to hardest). The South end starts at Gordon River and the North End starts near Bamfield.


WEST COAST TRAIL MAPS


The Canada Park’s staff will provide you will provide you with a map before hiking the trail.

This map can be looked at in advance by downloading on this link here.

Blisters and Bliss Book also has a drawn map within the guide.


HOW LONG IS THE WEST COAST TRAIL


Length: 75 km point to point

Elevation: Up and down ALOT of ladders. Total elevation around 1,500 m.

Time: Most people hike the trail in 6 or 7 days. Some do it in 4 or 5 days, and others stretch it out to 10 days. The record time is a trail runner who ran it in 10 hours! He must have bounded up those ladders.


On the park’s website, it says the trail is 75 km point to point. On the West Coast Trail Facebook group there have been debates on the actual distance because GPS watches often record the trail to be around 80-90 km. I am not sure if it is because the ladders or if there is a difference between the inland vs the beach options. Either way, be prepared to hike a few extra km.


One important note is that once you have your booking, you can stay on the trail for up to 14 days! So let’s say you end up staying a night at the crab shack and their cabins or have enough food to enjoy your favourite beach campsite or something happens that you just need another extra night to recoup, well you can!


What our family did

Cullite Cove West Coast Trail
Cullite Cove West Coast Trail

Our family chose to do it in 10 days and really liked being able to take our time. This did make food challenging because our kids just couldn’t carry much of their food. We managed to make it happen with a food drop and some careful food planning! More on that in the “What to Pack” section.


We do know of another family that did manage to complete it in 7 days with their 7 and 10 year old. He told me that he had wished they would have taken at least one more night.

CHECK OUT ITINERARY OPTIONS HERE


BOOKING THE WEST COAST TRAIL


Thrasher Beach West Coast Trail

Date to book the West Coast Trail : This year (2022), the booking happened at 8:00 am PDT on January 21st. The day to book the West Coast trail varies from year to year but can be found on the Canada Park’s website here.

The most popular months, July and August, book fast. Our family had 2 computers, an iPad, and two phones open to book our spot. We lucked out and managed to get one of the last spots in August. Yes… we have a family party dance afterwards in our living room to celebrate.


Pre-booking tips: Pick your top date to hike the trail and then have a few back up options. Remember, once you book your start date, you are allowed to stay 14 days on the trail. If your start day is available, then you are ok to book in even if the days after are no longer available. (I hope that made sense because I didn’t realize that until we started hiking the West Coast Trail).


Booking Process: Sign in to book before 8:00 am. Once 8:00 am hits, you will be put into a queue. Once it is your turn, it might seem like they have kicked you out. DO NOT GO OUT OF THE SITE. Sign in again and start the booking process.

*At the Time of the booking on the website, you will pay for the Booking Pass and Ferry’s. You will need to buy a park’s pass, shuttles/rentals, food drop/cabins etc seperately.


Booking Pass: $136. Valid up to 14 days regardless of how many days you plan to hike the trail

Ferry: includes the ferries at Gordon River ($24) and Nitinaht ($24)

Park’s Pass: $145 or $21.00/day for Family, $72.50 or $10.50/day for adult, $61.95 or $9.00 for 65+ (Must be on you while you are hiking the trail and you don’t need it in the car if it is parked)

Extra things you may want to consider booking:

Cabin: Optional to book a night (or two!) at the Nitinat Narrows Cabin. Booking can be done here or connect with them on Facebook here.

Transportation: see shuttle and other transportation options in section below.

Food Drop: see food drop section below.


ORIENTATION


After registering and before orientation.

Whichever itinerary you choose, you must sign in and complete an orientation with the Canada Park’s Staff BEFORE hiking the trail.

These are set times you have to make or you will wait to start your hike. The orientation is 30-60 minutes. We caught the earliest orientation but we still didn’t actually make it it across the ferry and up the first ladder until around 12 pm. At this orientation, they will go over any important information related to the trail, tides, any closures, how to contact search and rescue, and they will provide you with a map.

*If you have young children with you, be prepared to stand strong that your children are capable of hiking the trail.

The parks staff will question you. This is not a bad thing. It just means that you have truly be prepared for the challenges.

My words to the park staff were “We ARE hiking this trail whether you think we can do it or not”. If you are not confident then it might be best to wait until they are older. The parks staff let the search and rescue know that we were on the trail. I swear I saw them flying by and driving past on the boat while we hiked the shoreline to make sure we were all still alive.


TRANSPORTATION


Gordon River Ferry on the West Coast Trail. Nerves and excitement was high.

Shuttle or Car Rental: The West Coast Trail Express provides transportation to the trailhead and pick you up when you have finished. The price varies from $55 to $125 one way depending on where you are coming from and going to.

*The road from Bamfield is very windy and bumpy. We do know of one person that hiked the first day after being car sick from riding the shuttle. We also know another group that had someone drop out after riding the shuttle on the Bamfield road.

What we did: Cam and I rented a vehicle. We drove two cars to drop off our vehicle at the Bamfield WCT finish. We then dropped off the rental in Nanaimo. Cam’s parents picked us up and we all stayed in Chemainus. Then, they drove us and the girls to the Gordon River Trailhead to take the first of two ferry’s.


OPTIONAL FOOD DROP


Why a Food Drop? I am going to start by saying that most people should probably not do a food drop. However, for some people, this may be the only way they can experience the trail.

How? When we arrived in Victoria, we dropped a bag of food at The West Coast Trail Express. They delivered the food to Nitinaht Village. Their community made sure the package made it to Shelley Edgar at the Crab Shack so we could pick it up on the 7th day of hiking.

You will have to pay for the WCT Express, transportation in the village (WCT Express will add that to their pricing), and the Nitinat Wilderness Charters to transport it to Shelley at the Crab Shack and the cabins. The price can vary but expect it to start at $75 and up.


HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO HIKE THE WEST COAST TRAIL


Total Cost to Hike the West Coast Trail for a Family of 4: Approximately $1000. With the food drop, cabin, and recommended cash per person it amounts to around $1600 and up.

Total Cost for a Single Hiker to Hike the West Coast Trail: $300 to $600 depending on shuttles, cash on hand, and whether you want a cabin or not.

Cost is broken below.

Booking Pass: $136.00 per person

Ferry: $48.00 per person

Park’s Pass: $61.95 to $145.00 per person or for family

Shuttle or Car Rental: $55 to $125.00 on way (shuttle is per person, rental is for family)

Food Drop: $75 and up

Cabin: $100 and up

Recommended cash on hand: $100 per person (in case you choose to self evacuate at the halfway point, buy food at the Crab Shack and/or Nytom along the hike, or stay a night at one of the cabins at Nitinaht).


A note on the recommended cash: Cam didn’t want to bring money for the crab shack. I decided to bring the money and we were so happy. We were seven nights into the trek and the cold ciders, halibut dinner, and loaded baked potatoes really hit the spot. Our eight year old’s words “I am so happy to eat food that is not dehydrated for once” captured all our sentiments.


A note on the cabin: We had pre-booked a night at the Crab Shack’s and chose their cheapest cabin option. We are so happy that we did as it allowed us all to recoup and refresh for a day. It also helped split up a day that would be really long otherwise.


BEST TIME TO HIKE THE WEST COAST TRAIL


West Coast Trail with Kids

The best time to visit is July or August.

There is less rain and often more sunny days. It should be noted that you will still encounter rain and that August is often known on the coast as Fogust for the fog that often sets on the coast.

The best time to hike the West Coast Trail with kids, is later in July, August, or you could probably do September.

Why? The weather is one reason but the water is also not as high at that time.

*I saw a video of people hiking the West Coast Trail having to traverse the river as it entered the ocean because a cable car was broken. It was high and very dangerous. I found out that two women nearly drowned but had some other hikers save them. I can’t imagine crossing that with two little kids. Learning of that experience almost made me pack life jackets for the kids until I learn that the rivers could be easily crossed by the time we were set to hike the trail.


ITINERARIES – 10 DAY AND SHORTENED ITINERARIES FOR FAMILIES


West Coast Trail with Kids

This section has a 10 day itinerary option and a 7 day itinerary option. Shorter itineraries for families wanting to only experience part of the trail is coming soon!

That being said, we met people (adults) who were doing it in four days, five days, and even a younger lady who was doing the full thing there and back in 6 days! One person ran the West Coast Trail in a single day (I think around 10 hours).

For more itineraries including a shortened itineraries to experience part of the West Coast Trail check out the post “West Coast Trail Itineraries” (Coming Soon- Sign up to our email list to get it first!)

Now… Should you hike North to South (hardest to easiest) or South to North (easiest to hardest)?

The challenging question that you will have decide for yourself.

We wanted to tackle the hardest first because we knew it all would be challenging and our kids would have the best energy at the beginning. This worked well for us. Other hikers did recommend we do the easiest first. That way, if it was too challenging, we could leave at the mid ferry at Nitinat Narrows.

10 Day Itinerary Option:

North to South aka hardest section first

Day 1: Gordon River to Thrashers

Day 2: Thrashers to Camper Bay

Day 3: Camper Bay to Cullite Creek

Day 4: Cullite Creek to Walbran

Day 5: Walbran to Bonilla

Day 6: Bonilla to Cribs

Day 7: Cribs to Nitinaht (stayed in the cabins at the Crab Shack and picked up the food that was dropped by the ferry)

Day 8: Nitinaht to Tsusiat Falls

Day 9: Tsusiat to Michigan

Day 10: Michigan to Pachena Trailhead

7 Day Itinerary Options

(this itinerary was completed by a dad with a 7 and a 10 year old)

Day 1: Gordon River to Thrashers

Day 2: Thrashers to Cullite Creek (this was a long day)

Day 3: Cullite Creek to Bonilla Point

Day 4: Bonilla Point to Cribbs

Day 5: Cribbs to * Nitinat Narrows Cabin

Day 6: NItinat Narrows Cabin to Klanawa

Day 7: Klanawa to Michigan

Day 8: Michigan to Pachena Trailhead


TOP HIGHLIGHTS YOU WANT TO TRY TO SEE


The whole West Coast Trail is a highlight but there are a few spots that you will want to try to enjoy. Sometimes it will not work out based on the tide and the days you are hiking.

Boulder section

How to Prepare for West Coast Trail

About: Hike up and down massive boulders, some the size of vans and over piles of washed up logs. The total distance is about 2 km but will probably take you 1.5 to 3 hours. We took 3 hours with our kids age 6 and 8. Don’t let that fool you though into thinking it is easier. We were hiking with some other adults.

This is a very challenging but really cool section. It may not be for everyone and you do have an option to hike inland. so you may want to hike inland.

How to see it: From Thrasher Beach take the beach option to Camper Bay. This route also takes you to Owen’s Point.

Owen’s Point;

Owen's Point West Coast Trail

About: Owen’s Point is a really cool cave that you walk through to get around the beach. The tide has to be below 1.8 m. Sometimes across from Owen’s point are a whole bunch of sea otters sitting on a rock. They will be far away but you can hear and kind of see them. Binoculars do help to be able to see them.

How to see it: Hike the beach portion from Thrasher Beach to Camper Bay. The boulder section (see above) is very challenging and not for everyone. The tide has to be below 2.4 meters to be able to hike to Owen’s Point and then it has to be below 1.8 metres to cross through the cave.

Cullite Cove Campsite:

How to Prepare for West Coast Trail

About: Cullite Cove Campsite was our one of our favourite campgrounds. We lucked out and had the site on the far left when looking at the ocean. It felt like we were the only ones camping there. Many people don’t get to stay at this campground but it can be a great place for a break after descending down around 7 ladders and before having to climb up around 7 ladders.

How to see it: Cullite Cove is between Camper Bay and Walbran Creek. After hiking around 4 km from Camper Bay,and down a bunch of ladders, you will eventually have to cross a cable car. Instead of crossing there, you can turn left to check out Cullite Cove.

Logan Suspension Bridge

About: There are some amazing bridges on the West Coast Trail. The Logan Suspension bridge is one amazing piece of architecture.

How to see it: After Cullite Cove (from the south) or after Walbran Creek (from the North) you will come across the Logan Suspension Bridge. It is hard to miss it and you have to cross it.

Bonilla Point Campsite:

West Coast Trail Waterfall at Bonilla

About: This was another favourite campsite. We were the only ones staying here and it felt so surreal. Our site was right next to the creek and a waterfall. It was Paradise.

How to see it: It is hard to stay at this campsite if you are doing a typical itinerary because it will make for an awkwardly long days. It fit perfectly with our 10 day itinerary. If you can’t stay the night, stop for a break (or at least a photo). Bonilla is after Carmanah (from the North) or after Walbran Creek and Vancouver Point (from the South).

Crab Shack

Crab Shack West Coast Trail
Halibut and loaded baked potato at the Crab Shack

About: The Crab Shack is located at Nitinat Narrows and the best place for fish or crab. It is so amazing that this is part way through the trail. You can also pick up some chocolate bars, chips, a beer, cider, and a loaded bakes potato.

How to enjoy it: Stay the night at one of their cabins to truly relax and enjoy your time at the Crab Shack. Alternatively, you can pick something up on your way through. This is also where you take the ferry. Ferry times end each day around 4:30 or 5:00 pm and if you don’t catch it in time you are stuck if you need to cross. Food can also take a while to be made so if you just have a short amount of time then grab a drink and treat and be on your way.

Hole in the Wall

Hole in the Wall West Coast Trail

About: Hole in the wall is a walk through a cave to the other side of the beach. It is spectacular.

How to enjoy it: Tide at Tsusiat Point has to be below 2.1 metres to go through the Hole in the Wall. We had to wait a little bit and a sea otter walked right beside our 6 year old! It was so cool. That whole experience and the Hole in the Wall was really fun and beautiful.

Tsusiat Falls

Tsusiat Falls West Coast Trail

About: Large waterfalls that fall from the cliff above onto the beach.

How to enjoy it: Camp at Tsusiat Falls. Most people have Tsusiat Falls campground on their list for good reason. These falls are incredible and easy to check out along the WCT.

Other fun highlights: There are many highlights on the West Coast Trail. These include tiny crabs, tide pools, sea urchins, sea otters, seals, seagulls, shells, sea glass, jellyfish, jumping fish at the Crab Shack, the people (seriously fun to connect with other hikers), ladders (they do get tiring), bridges, logs to cross, lots of climbing and more!


WHAT TO PACK


Our backcountry gear guide includes everything we brought on the West Coast Trail except for the food we packed on our trip which can be found on the food section in this post.

We even broke down our packs to share the weight each member in our family carried. I break down what went into my pack, my husband’s backpack, our 6 year old’s pack and our 8 years old’s backpack. You will also have a look at the weight of our backpacks as well!

Hiking packing list

OUR BACKPACKS


After sorting out food, figuring out how to pack our backpacks was the second most challenging part of planning the West Coast Trail.

*A few notes before diving into each of our backpacks. Kids can only carry 10-15% of their backpack weight. The kids will also be climbing ladders and over boulders. Also, the recommended weight for backpacks for the WCT because of all the climbing and crazy terrain is around 35 to 40 pounds.

Check out what we packed in all our backpacks here.


FOOD (FREE DOWNLOAD)


Our complete food list for the West Coast Trail including a break down per person in our family WITH calorie count.

This was essential to make sure we didn’t pack too light on food that we starved for 10 days of hiking.

How to Prepare for West Coast Trail

HOW TO PREPARE YOUR FAMILY FOR THE WEST COAST TRAIL


We get asked this a lot.

Why did we think we could do this with our kids and how did we prepare? This is why I think our kids were prepared and then a few extra steps we did to prepare them (and us!)

Check out these 10 ways we prepared for the West Coast Trail.


PHYSICAL CHALLENGES ON THE WEST COAST TRAIL


The West Coast Trail is one of the most challenging thru hikes in Canada.

Here are 9 physical challenges on the West Coast Trail:

Ladders:

  • Lots and lots of ladders. At least 70.
  • Highest ladder is almost completely vertical and over 60 rungs. Check a video out here.
  • Sometimes you will do 7 ladders in a row down to the water and then 7 ladders back up.
Ladder on West Coast Trail

Tide:

  • Know the tide for each day you are hiking.
  • Some places you cannot hike if the tide is too high.
  • Make sure to set up your tent above high tide to avoid water in your tent in the middle of the night.

Bears and Cougars:

  • Bring bear spray and be loud.

Large Roots:

  • Some of the roots are so big you have to climb up them. It’s crazy. Go on your bum to help get down them.

Small Roots

  • so so so so many roots. It is very easy to twist an ankle. I twisted mine a few times but thankfully not that badly.

Slippery boardwalks

  • When it is wet (and sometimes even if it isn’t) these boardwalks are slippery. I fell at least once and so did my daughters.
Kids on West Coast Trail

Boulders

  • large boulders to climb that are sometimes really slippery. Take the rocks carefully.

Km’s are deceiving:

It is true, sometimes 1 km can take an hour or more because of the terrain. On an easy day (near the north end of the trail), our family did a km in 16 to 20 minutes. During the boulder section we did a km in about an hour and half.

Rain, wet, and lots of mud:

The west coast is known for lots of rain. It is also cold so hypothermia is a real risk. The rain and wetness, makes the trail really slippery. Even in the driest times. There is also lots of mud. I mean LOTS OF MUD. Sometimes the mud pits are as deep as two to three feet.

*I saved my husband from falling over into a deep mud pit by slamming him and his pack against a fallen log.


SAFETY


Ladders on West Coast Trail

There are 80 to 100 hikers that are seriously injured and evacuated from the West Coast Trail.

A few important safety notes.

  • Bring Bear Spray
  • Bring a First Aid Kit
  • Tell someone where you are going and send them your itinerary. Also, tell them when you will be back. A great trip plan app is the BC Adventure Smart App.
  • Bring a cell phone (will not work most of the time)
  • Optional but recommended. Have a satellite communicator.

Ps… I am not a safety expert.

The people at Adventure Smart BC are. They are a great website (high quality and reputable) for safety outdoors is the BC Adventure Smart Website. They offer many courses in free safety as well.


IMPORTANT RESOURCES


What goes in a Backpacking Pack

Orientation: Everyone that hikes the West Coast Trail will go for a 30-60 minute orientation. At this orientation, they will review any important information related to the trail, tides, any closures, how to contact search and rescue, and they will provide you with a map.

Blisters and Bliss: I think everyone should have a copy if they plan or are thinking about hiking the trail. We have two copies. An older 5th edition (my husband has had since he was a kid dreaming of hiking the trail) and their newest 9th edition. I will probably buy copies for the girls as well.

Buy a copy here.

Canada Park’s Website – Find booking and West Coast Trail information here.

West Coast Trail Facebook Group – Such a friendly Facebook group with that offers a ton of support. Admin occasionally runs WCT prep sessions for free on Facebook live, people are open to answering your questions even if they have been asked before, people share trail updates which are important, and then there are the stories and photos that people share from their own adventures.

Join the West Coast Trail Beautiful British Columbia Facebook group here.

BC Adventure Smart Website. Quality and reputable safety advice. They offer many free courses in safety as well.

Check out what was in our West Coast Trail Backpacks!

Kids hiking Backpacks
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