The West Coast Trail is incredible. Everything about it is amazing. From the wildly, incomprehensibly enormous trees to endless jaw dropping views. And it's tough.  Very tough.  It is a trail that shouldn't exist. Hiking trails always form out of the easiest route worn down over the years to some worthwhile destination. The West Coast Trail evolved out of the need to get shipwreck survivors out of this this otherwise beautiful place.

This trail was formed out of necessity and the route today is the only route realistically possible along this tangle of rainforest over brutally changing terrain. Flanked by steep cliffs on one side and the Graveyard of the Pacific on the other the route evolved where it shouldn't have. Who would plow a trail through such impenetrable wilderness unless absolutely necessary. Always wet, always up and down, hundreds of rivers, creeks, canyons, fallen trees and lots and lots of ladders. Even with all the construction of suspension bridges, cable car crossing and ladders it's brutal. And yearly, winter storms blast down monstrously huge trees and leave them sprawling across the trail.

The West Coast Trail's difficulty can be measured by its relatively short length of 75 kilometres yet it takes 5-7 days to complete. This is for two wonderful, spectacular and telling reasons. First, the trail's length is misleading as it doesn't take into account the thousands of zig-zags along the route. Both left and right as well as up and down. It is a jigsaw of a trail, up and down over endless chasms tangled with rainforest. Does that 75k take into account the 50 foot ladders? It just takes a long time to snake through and you quickly discover that 2 kilometres on the map shows as 4.8 kilometres on your gps! Added to that your pace is bogged down by whole sections of mud, crawling under and over fallen trees, and of course pausing almost every 5 minutes to soak in a sensational view.

Even the wrecked sections of trail become a thing of wonder and amusement. Often you stroll along an ancient, but lovely wooden boardwalk only to stop at a sizable length missing. A chunk of boardwalk a few metres long inexplicably missing. You stand at the end of the boardwalk and look across the gap which is a deep pool of mud with impenetrable jungle on either side. Then you spot it. On either side of the gap is a chainsawed end of an enormous tree that crashed down on the boardwalk during some winter storm a long time ago. You can tell it has been a few years because of the weathering of the two ends of the tree flanking the gap as well as the waterlogged and disintegrating pieces of this monster cut away. The tree was so massive that it sprang up when cut and the two ends are levered up to eye level with the weight of the length of tree that quickly disappears into the thick forest. Why haven't they fixed the boardwalk here? That thought crosses your mind a few times, until you pass a few more of these along the trail and realize that they must happen astonishingly often and repairing the damage takes a considerable amount of work. You would need an army of workers to keep on top of the needed repairs to the West Coast Trail. This of course is not realistic, and you slowly come to the conclusion that the trail is much more colourful and interesting with its smashed sections and constant reminders of the wild, destructive power of Vancouver Island's west coast.

West Coast Trail Hike Vancouver Island

It takes a couple days on the West Coast Trail to grasp how wonderful it is. It's so beautiful. Wildly beautiful, and this is a phenomenon that the West Coast Trail is alive with. It's constantly changing at every glance. Everywhere you look you spot a work of art in the form of a splayed tree over a river valley or a sudden gap in the forest revealing the ocean a thousand feet below. A swirling morass of green water and white, swirling foam churned up by the waves crashing from the Pacific. This constantly changing terrain with endless views and obstacles alone would secure this hike as one of the worlds best. But there is another aspect that combined with its beauty, makes it what it is. The West Coast Trail. This is a characteristic that is seldom understood or explained for how wonderful it actually is. The harsh difficulty of the trail.

The trail is brutal. It's invariably raining, so you are often soaking wet. This makes you soggy and crabby, tired and exhausted. The treacherous trail in this wet is muddy, slippery and requires your full attention at every step. This mesmerizes you as you hike. You focus completely on your next step and your mind relaxes into a meditative state. This is when it happens. You look up, catch a glance of what's around you, and it's marvellous. This is it. The West Coast Trail is a perfect combination of brutal difficulty, spectacular wildness and stunning natural beauty. Added to that you occasionally get a glimpse of history that carries you back in time. A piece of a shipwreck along the beach or a massive anchor left 150 years ago after the ship it came from succumbed to the Graveyard of the Pacific in some calamitous storm that smashed it here.  Preview the West Coast Trail Here...

West Coast Trail Hiking Guide

Hiking Trails & CampingWhistler   Hiking Trails & CampingSquamish  Hiking Trails & CampingVancouver  Hiking Trails & CampingClayoquot  Hiking Trails & CampingVictoria  Hiking Trails & CampingWest Coast Trail

Hike the West Coast Trail

  Day 1 Pachena to Darling Day 2 Darling to Tsusiat Day 3 Tsusiat to Carmanah Day 4 Carmanah to Walbran

Day 5 Walbran to Cullite Day 6 Cullite to Camper Day 7 Camper to Thrasher

West Coast Trail Campsites

 West Coast Trail CampsiteMichigan Creek at 12k West Coast Trail CampsiteDarling River at 14k Orange Juice Creek at 15k West Coast Trail CampsiteTsocowis Creek at 16.5k West Coast Trail CampsiteKlanawa River at 23k

West Coast Trail CampsiteTsusiat Falls at 25k West Coast Trail CampsiteCribs Creek at 42k West Coast Trail CampsiteCarmanah Creek at 46k West Coast Trail CampsiteBonilla Creek at 48k

West Coast Trail CampsiteWalbran Creek at 53k West Coast Trail CampsiteCullite Cove at 58k West Coast Trail CampsiteCamper Bay at 62k West Coast Trail CampsiteThrasher Cove at 70k

November in Whistler is when the temperatures plummet and the first heavy snow falls in the alpine and often in Whistler Village.  The hiking opportunities become ...
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December hiking in Whistler is mainly done on snowshoes, though if it hasn't snowed for a few days, trails to Whistler Train Wreck and Rainbow Falls can ...
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There are plenty of beautiful and free snowshoe trails in Whistler and Garibaldi Provincial Park.  From the surreal paintings of Whistler Train Wreck to ...
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February is a great month for snowshoeing in Whistler and Garibaldi Park.  The days slowly get longer, but the temperatures stay consistently cold.  Expect ...
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Bivouac or Bivy: a primitive campsite or simple, flat area where camping is possible.  Traditionally used to refer to a very primitive campsite comprised of ...
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The Cordilleran Ice Sheet covered most of north-west North America for much of the last 2.6 million years.  At the Last Glacial Maximum during the Last ...
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The Garibaldi Volcanic Belt is a line of mostly dormant stratovolcanoes and subglacial volcanoes largely centred around Whistler and extending through much ...
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Cornice: a wind deposited wave of snow on a ridge, often overhanging a steep slope or cliff.  They are the result of snow building up on the crest of a ...
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The rocky and narrow row of islands in Garibaldi Lake just offshore from the Garibaldi Lake campsite are known as Battleship Islands.  Named by the ...
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Mount Garibaldi is the huge, potentially active volcano that Garibaldi Provincial Park is named after.  Mount Garibaldi also lends its name to the Garibaldi ...
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The pale green shub-like growths hanging from trees in the forests around Whistler is called usnea.  These bushy, coral-like fruticose lichens anchor to bark ...
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Paper birch, also known as white birch is a type of birch tree that grows in northern North America. Named for its paper-like, white or cream coloured ...
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Rent Hiking Gear Whistler & Garibaldi Park

Whistler & Garibaldi Hiking

Easy Hiking Trail WhistlerAlexander Falls  Moderate Hiking Trail Whistler Dog FriendlyAncient Cedars  Moderate Hiking Trail WhistlerBlack Tusk  Pay Use Hiking Trail WhistlerBlackcomb Mountain  Easy Hiking Trail WhistlerBrandywine Falls  Moderate/Hard Hiking Trail Whistler Dog FriendlyBrandywine Meadows  Moderate/Hard Hiking Trail Whistler Dog FriendlyBrew Lake  Easy Hiking Trail WhistlerCallaghan Lake  Moderate Hiking Trail WhistlerCheakamus Lake  Whistler Hiking Trail EasyCheakamus River  Whistler Hiking Trail HardCirque Lake  Whistler Hiking Trail EasyFlank Trail  Moderate Hiking Trail WhistlerGaribaldi Lake  Moderate Hiking Trail WhistlerGaribaldi Park  Moderate Hiking Trail WhistlerHelm Creek  Moderate Hiking Trail Whistler Dog FriendlyJane Lakes  Joffre Lakes Hike in Whistler in SeptemberJoffre Lakes  Moderate Hiking Trail Whistler Dog FriendlyKeyhole Hot Springs  Hiking Trail Hard Dog FriendlyLogger’s Lake  Whistler Hiking Trail EasyMadeley Lake  Moderate/Hard Hiking Trail Whistler Dog FriendlyMeager Hot Springs Easy Hiking Trail WhistlerNairn Falls  Whistler Hiking Trail HardNewt Lake  Moderate Hiking Trail WhistlerPanorama Ridge  Whistler Hiking Trail EasyParkhurst Ghost Town  Hiking Trail Hard Dog FriendlyRainbow Falls  Moderate Hiking Trail WhistlerRainbow Lake  Moderate/Hard Hiking Trail Whistler Dog FriendlyRing Lake  Moderate Hiking Trail WhistlerRusset Lake  Whistler Hiking Trail EasySea to Sky Trail  Easy Hiking Trail WhistlerSkookumchuck Hot Springs  Easy Hiking Trail WhistlerSloquet Hot Springs  Sproatt East  Moderate Hiking Trail WhistlerSproatt West  Moderate Hiking Trail WhistlerTaylor Meadows  Whistler Hiking Trail EasyTrain Wreck  Hiking Trail Hard - Whistler TrailsWedgemount Lake  Pay Use Hiking Trail WhistlerWhistler Mountain

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Joffre Lakes Provincial Park is a gorgeous park with extraordinarily coloured lakes, waterfalls, stunning mountain peaks and ominous glaciers pouring into the valley.  Joffre Lakes is one of those incredible ...
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Blackcomb Mountain holds an impressive and ever growing array of hiking trails. From the moment you arrive at the Rendezvous Lodge, you see hiking trails ascend into the distance. The Rendezvous Lodge is ...
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The short, winding, and ever-changing hiking trail to Rainbow Falls is the same as the much more popular trailhead for Rainbow Lake.  The trailhead is marked as the Rainbow Trail, and the trail quickly ...
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Alexander Falls is a very impressive 43 metre/141 foot waterfall just 30 to 40 minutes south of Whistler in the Callaghan Valley. Open year-round and located just before Whistler Olympic Park where several ...
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