Distance: 40 km
Elevation Gain: Minimal overall but had many ups and downs
Difficulty: Moderately Difficult
Back Country Camping completed in 3 days.
Special Considerations: Must be booked ahead of time https://reservation.pc.gc.ca/WestCoastTrail and permits purchased. Trail heads are deep off road and hard on cars so consider taking the west coast trail bus to the trail heads and having them take you back. Can pick up in Victoria. Required to carry all supplies be prepared to have a pack weighing 35-55 lbs. Trail can be accessed from Pachena bay (to head south) Nitinat (mid point from here you can go north or south) or Port Renfrew heading north.
Trail is a mix of woods and beach walking, has many roots, mud and ladders, boardwalks, as well as a few river crossings. Because of the extreme winter weather there trail can only be walked May through August. This is a very popular trail but limited permits are sold so book early. Check out this site to answer many questions about this hike https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/pn-np/bc/pacificrim/activ/activ6a
Day 1- Nitinat to Killama River
Distance: 14 km
The first 3 km took us almost 3 hours as it was tricky through the woods and I ended up on my bum. You will pass a comfort camping area that is booked separately. First bit is through the woods and is up and down with many routes and mud, clears a bit after the first couple KM and we traveled faster. Once you hit the beach is a a short distance to the first campground which is Tsusiat Falls. Big popular campground, we were late in the season so the water fall was almost non existent. We had originally planned to camp here but it was crowded and still early in the day and we saw that the next campground was about 5 more km. So we trekked on. Leaving this campsite is your first real set of ladders on this route, and its a big climb. At the top there is a water source. This part of the trail was the easiest part of the day and the day ends with a river crossing in a cable car over a fresh water Killama rive thats a lovely swimming spot. The killama River campground is beautiful, lots of drift wood while we were there and by far our favorite spot of the whole trip. Quieter as its smaller and most people want to camp at Tsusiat. But I really recommend this one.
Day 2- Killama River to Darling River
Distance 10 km
The first bit is on the beach and we took our time, looking at tide pools and saw many little creatures. Then you go back into the woods and go up up up. Through the woods its quite leisurely with lovely views from the bluffs and then you get to some very tall ladders (going down) which run along a slightly sketchy cliff, then a beautiful waterfall and small suspension bridge. At the bottom of all this is Tscowis Creek Campground where we took a long break. Very nice campground. After this its a long beach slog and you will pass one more campsite (orange creek) before you arrive at Darling River. Here we spent the night, and there was several bears by the river that were still there in the morning. We saw bear skat throughout most of the day on this walk.
Day 3- Killama River to Pachena Bay
Distance 18 km
Started walk with a 2 km beach stroll avoiding bears, then you will come across the last campsite on the trail which is Michigan Creek. Its a busy site as its the first from the Pachena Bay trail head. From Michigan Creek is up up up, in the trees most of the day and lots of mud while we were there. After a bit it evens out and is a lot easier. There is an amazing light house on this day and couple other fun things in the woods. Lots of smaller ladders towards the end of the day. At the end you can go through the woods or if you time it right and the tide is out you can do a beach exit, which I deeply recommend. Its a stunning beach and will look so beautiful to your tired self. Here there is a full service campground that we spent the night in as our commuter bus didnt pick up until the next day.
You can see a video of our trip here
Reviews aimed at beginners on trails in Banff, Kananaskis, Vancouver Island and beyond