Off the rugged western coast of Vancouver Island, over seventy ships have perished in the area known as the Graveyard of the Pacific, an area of jagged rocks, dense fogs, and high winds. In 1890, a telegraph route was constructed from Victoria to Bamfield to aid in the rescue of vessels in distress. Realizing that many shipwrecked mariners made their way to shore only to die of exposure or starvation, the telegraph route was upgraded in 1906 in order to provide a route to civilization for survivors. Sailors could take refuge in rough wood shelters built along the way. This is the route retraced by the West Coast Trail.
Eventually modern advances in communication and navigation made the trail obsolete and it was abandoned by the government in 1970. It was not long before logging interest moved in and began to systematically destroy massive areas of ancient and historic timber. Due to the efforts of environmentalists and especially the Sierra Club, the area was placed under park protection in 1970. The historical and recreational value of the trail led to effort at reconstruction which continued over the next ten years.
The West Coast Trail renovations were completed in 1980, and the trail, now a part of the Pacific Rim National Park was opened to hikers and naturalists.
The West Coast Trail is truly magnificent with one vista after the other to feed the mind and enrich the imagination. It is also a dangerous, difficult and challenging athletic adventure. It should only be undertaken by those in excellent physical condition. To use the trail you need a permit, and those who are wise will attend and learn from the orientation provided. Even experienced hikers are lost on this trail and there are many serious injuries. It is wise to travel in a group, with a guide. The trip takes from five to seven days. For good reason, the trail is closed during the winter months and those traveling it at that time must pay the total cost of any rescue efforts made on your behalf. Rescuers may take several days to reach you.
The West Coast Trail passes through through temperate coastal rainforest of spruce, hemlock and cedar. It passes over rocky headlands, past waterfalls, tidal pools, caves, and along magnificent beaches. Some of Canada’s largest trees are found in this area.
The West Coast Trail is truly unique. If you are considering this journey, prepare well and learn all you can about the conditions and obstacles you will face.
The following is the first in three videos that take a trip along the trail with an inexperience but young and fit trecker.