Top Ten Canada Off-the-Beaten-Path Adventures

Hike the West Coast Trail
By Bill McRae

It's a fact: Vancouver Island's rugged, remote West Coast Trail in Pacific Rim National Park is, quite simply, one of the world's greatest extreme hiking and camping adventures. The 44-mile trail takes you through deep rain forest edged by a sandy beach, along a roaring surf, and past awe-inspiring views of migrating gray whales, basking sea lions, and soaring eagles. The trail will also force you to ford swollen rivers, climb and then rappel down sheer cliffs, and face whatever storms the brooding Pacific Ocean may decide to hurl at you.

About 9,000 people hike the entire route each year, and thousands more trek the more accessible seven-mile oceanfront stretch at the northern trailhead near Bamfield. But only 52 people per day are allowed to enter the main trail, and registration with the park office is mandatory. Most hikers allow five days to make the entire trek.Planning, stamina, and experience are imperative for the full hike. You'll need to have current topographic maps and tidal tables, a compass, and possess advanced wilderness survival skills.


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