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Pacific Rim National Park | West Coast Trail

NEW! West Coast Trail 2000 Visitor Information Brochure

The West Coast Trail is located on the southern west coast of Vancouver Island, BC Canada and stretches 77 kilometers from Port Renfrew to Bamfield. The trail was first built as a result of shipwrecks off the coast. The trail follows an old telegraph route and is now a destination for thousands of hikers each year. The land of the West Coast Trail unit is temperate coastal rainforest dominated by old growth spruce, hemlock and cedar. Some of the tallest and largest trees in Canada are known to be on or in the vicinity of the West Coast Trail.







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Juan de Fuca Expressn Water Taxi




Information - West Coast Trail





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WCT Trip Log -

WCT Trip Log - Nina

WCT Trip Log - Ray Siemens

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WCT Trip Log - Another

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Pacific Rim National Park Reserve is part of a system of national parks and historic sites stretching from sea to sea to sea. It protects for all time a significant example of Canada's natural and cultural heritage to encourage public understanding, appreciation and enjoyment for present and future generations

As part of Canada's national park system, Pacific Rim National Park Reserve represents and protects both the near shore waters and the coastal lowland forests of Vancouver Island's west coast. Together the three units of the National Park Reserve; Long Beach, the West Coast Trail and the Broken Group Islands manage and protect an area of land and ocean covering 49,962 hectares.

Influenced by the Pacific Ocean and backed by the Insular Mountain range of Vancouver Island, Pacific Rim is perched on the edge of both land and ocean. The moderate maritime climate (cool foggy summers, mild wet winters) encourages an abundance of life both in the water and on the land. In no temperate region on earth is there a more bountiful, diverse, intertidal zone than on North America's nutrient rich Pacific coast. Likewise the temperate rainforests of North America's west coast are abundant with growth and distinct in their dominance by coniferous tree species such as Sitka Spruce, Western Hemlock and Western Red Cedar.

The people of the Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations have lived along this coastline and amongst these islands, for centuries. More recent explorers and settlers arriving on this coast found the waters treacherous and many a ship, crew member and passenger have been lost in the waters that have become known as the "Graveyard of the Pacific".

The West Coast Trail represents a unique portion of Canada's landscape and history. Sandstone cliffs, waterfalls, caves, sea arches, sea stacks and beaches compose the stunning Pacific coastline backed by towering rainforest This rugged and harsh environment is rich in both natural and cultural heritage. First Nations, lighthouse keepers, shipwreck survivors, homesteaders, prospectors, missionaries and others were affected by the shores, wind, waves and tides. Over the years this stunning, but treacherous, stretch of coastline has become known as the "Graveyard of the Pacific": Today, most people visit this coastline on land and by foot: They come to experience the beauty of, and be challenged by, one of the most arduous and dynamic hiking trails in the world - the West Coast Trail, Balancing protection and recreational use of our national treasures, our national parks, are a responsibility not only of Parks Canada, but of all park visitors Follow the park guidelines in this handout to ensure the conservation and sustainability of our special heritage places for future generations.

This 75 km hiking trail (Pachena Bay to Gordon River) is internationally known for being rugged and challenging. It demands stamina and proficiency in wilderness hiking and camping skills.

Prospective West Coast Trail hikers must understand that hiking this trail is not without personal risk

Accidents and injuries are common. The WCT is for experienced hikers in good physical condition who are prepared to have a wilderness experience and adhere to proper backcountry etiquette. This hike is not suitable for novice hikers or children under twelve.

This is a wilderness trail: Hazards are numerous. Human interference with the environment is kept to a minimum. Is your group really ready for this hike- Hikers must be self-sufficient, prepared for adverse weather conditions, slippery difficult terrain, creek fording, long days and heavy packs. Foul weather can strike at any time and hikers must be prepared to wait out storms and high water at creek crossings.

Hikers wishing to hike the West Coast Trail with a commercial guide may contact Pacific Rim National Park Reserve for a list of companies that operate in the WCT unit. Please remember that an experienced guide does not compensate for lack of experience in other group members. If you or your fellow hikers are ill-equipped, inexperienced, unfit, or are plagued by recurring injuries, the West Coast Trail could easily turn into a dangerous endurance test.

 •  The WCT is open from May I to September 30, and closed October I to April 30 (due to extremely dangerous conditions).
 •  In 1992 a quota system was put into effect to reduce over-crowding and ecological degradation of the west Coast Trail unit of the National Park Reserve.
 •  Each day between May 1 and September 30 inclusive, the quota allows 26 hikers (20 reserved and 6 wait list) to start at each end of the Trail (Pachena Bay and Gordon River).
 •  At present the West Coast Trail quota system allows for 8000 overnight users per Year
 •  To assist in offsetting the cost of operating the West Coast Trail a Trail Use Fee is in effect for overnight users of the trail.
 •  Entrance points on the West Coast Trail are Pachena Bay (north) and Gordon River (South)
 •  Exit points are Pachena Bay, Gordon River and Nitinat Lake.
 •  These are the only sanctioned entrance or exit points on the Trail. Entrance or exit at any other point is not permitted unless evacuation is required. Nitinat Lake is no longer an entrance point
 •  All those overnighting in the West Coast Trail unit of the park must carry a Trail Use Permit.
 •  Day users must obtain a free Day Use Permit from one of the Park Information / Registration centres before hiking in the West Coast Trail unit of the park. Day hikers using ferries are subject to ferry fees.
 •  Hikers without Trail Use Permits will not be permitted to complete their hike, and will not be provided ferry services.
 •  Maximum group size is ten (10) people. The only exceptions to the maximum group size are school and non-profit educational groups. These special groups must start hiking between May 1 and May 19, and may travel in groups as large as 18.
 •  School groups, non-profit educational groups and commercial guiding groups must contact the Park directly for information about eligibility and bookings.
 •  A Trail Use Permit will not be issued to children under the age of 6.
 •  Pets and firearms are not permitted on the West Coast Trail.
Note: Due to weather, natural, financial, or operational concerns the West Coast Trail may not be accessible to the public.

Gordon River (south) requires a hiker ferry trip to the Gordon River Trailhead. The southern section of the West Coast Trail is rugged and difficult. It takes a minimum of 2 days to travel the 22 km from Gordon River to Walbran Creek. Most hikers find the hiking conditions less rigorous as they head north.

Pachena Bay (north) is easier to access because no ferry trip is required. The northern half of the West Coast Trail is not as difficult as the southern half. You will be carrying a lighter backpack by the time you reach the rougher southern half of the trail.

There are two major water crossings on the West Coast Trail requiring ferry services: the Gordon River and the Nitinat Narrows. The ferries run on a regular schedule and no reservations are needed. Each crossing is $12.50 per person and is payable at the Park Information / Registration Centre when you register. To cross the rivers, you must show your Trail Use Permit to the ferry operators. Hikers without a valid permit will be denied passage.

There are two methods of obtaining a Trail Use Permit: either make a reservation or participate in the waitlist system.

1) To obtain quota spaces via the reservation system:
Hikers wanting to ensure a space within the quota system for the 2000 hiking season can now choose from a full month of possible starting dates for their hike. Now, beginning on the first day of each month, for three months out, they can request any start date. If someone calls in March, they now have the opportunity to book the start of their hike for any day during the month of May. Reservations for the entire month of June open on April 1st, for July on May 1st and so on.

Reservations are taken March 1 to September 30 and may be made 7 days a week between 7:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. (PST/PDT).

To make a reservation call the Super Natural British Columbia Reservation Service at:
604-663-6000 - Greater Vancouver
1-800-663-6000 - Canada and USA
250-387-1642 - International

A non-refundable reservation fee of $25.00 Canadian per hiker is required at the time of booking. This fee covers the cost of the reservation, an information package (the Hiker Preparation Guide and official water resistant West Coast Trail Map), and shipping fees. Tide tables are available from the information/Registration Centres.

When you call, you must have the following information ready:
 •  intended start date and two alternate start dates.
 •  which Trailhead you plan to start your hike from: Pachena Bay or Gordon River.
 •  number of hikers in your group (maximum 10).
 •  a mailing address (the information package will be sent to this address)
 •  valid credit card (either VISA or MasterCard) to pay for your Reservations: $25.00 per hiker.
Invalid or expired credit cards will result in cancelled reservations.

Changes to your reservation or your start date may only be made through the Super Natural British Columbia Reservation Service, and provided that space is available on your new intended start date.

2) To obtain quota spaces via the waitlist system:
Six waitlist spaces are available on a first-come, first-serve basis each day at both the Gordon River and Pachena Bay Park Information / Registration Centres. In addition, any unused overnight quota spaces, cancellations and no-show reservations will be assigned to hikers by the waitlist system. Register in person at the Information/ Registration Centres. Waitlist spaces will be allocated at 1:00pm each day from both of the Information l Registration Centres. During peak season (July to mid-September), hikers may wait an average of 1 to 3 days to obtain a Trail Use Permit via the waitlist system.

Hikers must make their own arrangements for all transportation to and from the West Coast Trail. Refer to the last page of this handout for a basic map and telephone numbers.

To Vancouver Island: by ferries or air.
To the Pachena Bay Information / Registration Centre near Bamfield:
 •  private vehicle from Port Alberni (1.5 hrs) or Duncan (3 hrs) on gravel logging roads
 •  bus from Victoria (4 hrs) or Nanaimo (3 hrs) (West Coast Trail Express)
 •  bus from Port Alberni (1.5 hrs) (West Coast Trail Express)
 •  passenger ferry from Port Alberni (4 hrs) (Alberni Marine Transport Ltd.).
To Gordon River Information / Registration Centre near Port Renfrew:
 •  private vehicle from Victoria (2 firs) via paved and winding Highway 14
 •  bus from Victoria (2 firs) (West Coast Trail Express).
 •  private vehicle from Cowichan Lake on gravel logging roads through Hillcrest/ Harris Creek ML
 •  (1.5 firs)
Between Port Renfrew, Nitinat and Bamfield:
 •  private vehicle (3 firs) on gravel logging roads;
 •  bus (3 firs) (West Coast Trail Express);
 •  ferry (4 firs) (Juan de Fuca Express Water Taxi').
Nitinat Narrows to Nitinat Village:
 •  ferry leaves Nitinat Narrows at approximately 5:00 p.m. every night (1 hr) (Nitinat Lake Water Taxi'). Fee of $25.00

Air charter services may also be available to and from adjacent communities.
Hitchhiking is not recommended.

Accommodation, camping and limited services are available in the Bamfield, Port Renfrew and Nitinat Village areas. There are no banking or cash advance facilities in the villages of Bamfield, Port Renfrew or at the Park Information / Registration Centres.
 •  All overnight users of the West Coast Trail must participate in a one-hour orientation session, pay the Trail Use Fee, the ferry fees, and register on the trail before they are issued a Trail Use Permit. This takes approximately 1 %2 hours.
 •  Orientation sessions are offered at: 9:30 a.m., 12:00, 1:30 and 3:30 p.m.
 •  Hikers may register as early as 3:30 p.m. the day before their hike start date.
 •  Late arrivals: hikers arriving late on their reserved date (i.e. arriving after 1:00 p.m. at their starting Trailhead's Information / Registration Centre) contact the appropriate Information / Registration Centre for 1:00 p.m. to prevent their reserved spaces from being given to hikers on the waitlist. (Alberni Marine Transport Ltd. will contact the Pachena Bay Information / Registration Centre on behalf of hikers travelling with them if they are requested to do so.)
 •  The 2000 Trail Use Fee is $70.00 per person. It is mandatory, non-refundable and is in addition to the $25.00 reservation fee
 •  Ferry fees are payable at the Park Information / Registration Centres. Anticipated ferry fees are $12.50 per person per crossing for both the Nitinat Narrows and the Gordon River crossings
 •  At the Park Information / Registration Centres, payment can be made by Visa, MasterCard, Debit Card, Canadian currency and travellers cheques (Canadian currency).

Summary of Fees:
Reservation fee $25.00 Time of reserving not refundable
Trail use fee $70.00 Park Information / Registration Centre not refundable
Gordon River Ferry fee (one way) $12.50 Park Information / Registration Centre refundable in person only
Nitinat Narrows Ferry fee (one way) $12.50 Park Information / Registration Centre refundable in person only

Note: West Coast Trail fees may be subject to change without notice

Balancing protection and recreational use of Canada's National Parks is the responsibility of all Canadians and Park users. Read and understand the "WCT Hiker Preparation Guide" before commencing your hike. It is mailed to all those making a reservation If your group is planning to use the waitlist system, the "WCT Hiker Preparation Guide" is also available by contacting Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. (See Information Sources/References).

The following suggestions provide some guidance to park users:
 •  Understand and practice low impact camping.
 •  Come well equipped with good outdoor gear that you are familiar with.
 •  Think of your feet. Wear only sturdy footwear that is broken in.
 •  Cook on a lightweight backpackers stove. We recommend that you do not rely on fires.
 •  Consider food carefully. Keep it lightweight, nutritious and low odour. Store food carefully if unattended.
 •  Be water-wise. Treat, filter or boil all water collected from streams.
 •  Pack it in, and out! Everything you bring in, you must take back out, no exceptions!
 •  Carry a West Coast Trail map with information about tide heights, impassable headlands, etc.
 •  Carry the Tide Tables for Tofino and a reliable watch. Know how to read a Tide Table.
 •  Beware of wildlife. Understand and practice the correct behaviour around black bears and cougars.
 •  Hazardous weather conditions may occur at any time. Pack appropriately and be prepared to wait out storms and high water at stream crossings.
 •  Know the abilities of all your group members. Avoid unreasonable deadlines; travel may take longer than expected.

 •  Pachena Bay Information Registration Centre - (250) 728-3234
 •  Gordon River Information Registration Centre - (250) 647-5434
 •  Pacific Rim National Park Reserve - (250) 726-7721
 •  QUU'AS West Coast Trail Group - (250) 723-4393
 •  BC Ferries - (250) 386-3431 (Vancouver to Victoria or Nanaimo)
 •  Seattle Ferry - (250) 382-8100 (Seattle to Victoria)
 •  West Coast Trail Express Bus - (250) 477-8700 (Victoria, Nanaimo, Bamfield, Port Renfrew)
 •  Alberni Marine Transport - (250) 723-8313 (Port Alberni to Bamfield passenger ferry)
 •  Juan de Fuca Express Water Taxi - (250) 755-6578 (between Port Renfrew, Nitinat Narrows and
 •  Butch Jack Hiker Ferry Services - (250) 647-5517 or 647-5521 (Gordon River Trailhead)
 •  Nitinat Lake Water Taxi - (250) 745-3509 (across Nitinat Narrows and to Nitinat Village)
 •  New Shuttle Bus Service - 1-877-954 -3556 (WCT Connections to/from BC Ferries) - email:

Suggested references:
 •  Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. 2000. West Coast Trail 2000 Hiker Preparation Guide - in all reservation Information Packages or contact the Park.
 •  The West Coast Trail Video - for sale at Park Information / Registration Centres or contact the Park.
 •  Canadian Cartographics. 1998. The Official West Coast Trail Map. Coquitlam, British Columbia. (fold out map)
 •  Canadian Hydrographic Service. 2000. Canadian Tide and Current Tables. Volume 6. (Tofino). Both the map and the tide table are part of the reservation Information Package. The map may also be purchased at Park Information / Reservation Centres, the Park Office and retail outlets. Tide tables are available at Information/Registration Centres
 •  MacFarlane, J.M., H.J. Quan, K.K. Uyeda, YD. Wong. 1996. Official Guidebook to Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. Blackbird Naturgraphics Inc. Calgary, Alberta. May also be purchased at Park Information / Reservation Centres, the Park Office and retail outlets.

Pacific Rim National Park Reserve
2185 Ocean Terrace Rd.
P.O. Box 280
Ucluelet, BC, VOR 3A0 Canada
Phone: 250-726-7721
Fax: 250-726-4720

Pachena Bay Information / Registration Centre
Phone/Fax: 250-728-3234
Open daily 9:00 am - 5:00 pm, May 1 - Oct 5

Gordon River Information / Registration Centre
Phone: 250-647-5434 Fax: 250-647-0016
Open daily 9:00 am - 5:00 pm, May 1-Oct. 5

Long Beach Information Centre
Phone: 250-726-4212
Open daily 9:30 am - 5:00 pm, mid-June - mid-September.

Source: Pacific Rim National Park Reserve - West Coast Trail Unit - 2000 Visitor Information Handout (June 7th, 2000)
Information may have changed - A current copy of this brochure may be obtained at the Long Beach Unit Information Centre or the Wickaninnish Centre

Hiking on the Edge:West Coast Trail & Juan de Fuca Trail Timeless Shore: Canada's West Coast Trail The West Coast Trail:And Other Great Hikes Blisters And Bliss
Shipwrecks along the West Coast Trail
West Coast Trail
West Coast Trail & Nitinat Lakes

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