West Coast Trail: Challenges

Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

Be prepared

All hikers in your group must be prepared for:

  • 6-8 days in the backcountry. 
  • Rugged, uneven ground: it takes approximately two days to travel the southern 22 km of the trail between Gordon River and Walbran Creek. 
  • Slippery conditions on muddy trails, wooden surfaces, boulders and rocky shorelines. 
  • Wading rivers, climbing ladders, using cable cars, following an irregular trail, negotiating steep slopes and earth slumps. 
  • Damaged structures: trail maintenance is ongoing and the condition of structures can change at any time. 
  • A temperate rainforest climate. Rainfall averages 330 cm (130 in.) per year with heavy rainfall possible at any time, and frequently in May and June. Floodwaters can delay hikers for days. Fog is common, especially in July and August. The average summer temperature is 14° Celsius (57° F.). Incidents of hypothermia and physical injury increase significantly during prolonged wet periods. 
  • Accidents and injuries.

Should an accident occur, it may take over 24 hours before help arrives.

The West Coast Trail is for hikers who are:

  • Experienced in overnight backpacking, experienced group leaders cannot compensate for inexperienced hikers. 
  • Able to hike long distances through rough terrain with a full backpack (recurring knee, back or ankle injuries are often aggravated on the trail). 
  • Prepared to have a wilderness experience. 
  • Able to wait if conditions warrant delays. 
  • Over 12 years of age. The West Coast Tail is not recommended for children under 12. All party members must be at least 6 years of age; Parks Canada will not issue a West Coast Trail overnight permit to children under 6 years old.
  • Pets and firearms are not allowed on the trail.

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