The West Coast Trail is a breathtakingly beautiful 47 mile (75 km) backpacking route on the southwest coast of Vancouver Island, BC. The trail was originally called the Dominion Lifesaving Trail because it was built in 1907 as a way to rescue shipwreck survivors along the coast. The trail is now a part of Pacific Rim National Park and outdoor enthusiasts from all over the world make the pilgrimage to the island to hike what’s widely considered one of the world’s best hiking trails. Be forewarned, this trek is not for beginners due to its length and difficult terrain and each year many hikers are evacuated from the trail due to injury, illness and hypothermia. If you’re planning on taking on this most rewarding challenge here are some tips from experienced hikers who’ve done the trail to help with your planning:
1. Waterproof Everything
If you’ve ever bought waterproof hiking equipment you already know it usually comes with a hefty price, but in this case it’s worth it. BC is widely known to get lots of annual rainfall and the old growth forests in which the trail runs through are actually rainforests (Yes, rainforests in Canada!). So be prepared for wet days with a good breathable rain jacket, rain pants, waterproof boots (Gortex is a good option) and a rain cover for your pack. It’s also recommended that you line your pack with a garbage bag and make sure your sleeping bag is in a waterproof dry bag or compression sack. Also, be mentally prepared because being wet for days on end can take its toll on the most experienced hikers.