Currently praised as one of the best hiking trails in the world, the West Coast Trail is found on the edge of Vancouver Island. The trail is loaded with wildlife and amazing views. Sometimes it passes by the shoreline, or through forested regions with their own share of wonders. All in all, this is one of the best places to gain some valuable hiking experience in the province of British Columbia.
The West Coast Trail was originally known as the Dominion Lifesaving Trail. The trail was built a century ago, in 1907. As the name suggests, the trail was built to help rescue shipwrecked sailors from Canada’s version of the Bermuda Triangle, known as the Graveyard of the Pacific.
You can only visit the trail in the summer months of May through September. Although reservation is a must for any and all people who wish to explore the region, it is worth all the effort and the expenses. If you’re someone who loves to challenge themselves in nature, then let me tell you that this is the place to be.
Want to know more about the marvelous, scenic campsites along the edge of Vancouver Island? This piece of writing is where your search for answers comes to an end.
The Best Guide to West Coast Trail Campsites 2020
1. Michigan Creek
If you start your hiking trip at the Pachena Trailhead an intend to come down south, then Michigan Creek is the first campsite that you will encounter. Compared to the rest of the West Coast Trail, the Michigan Creek is flat, pleasant and easy to traverse.
The selling point of Michigan Creek is most certainly the huge boiler of the Michigan shipwreck that reveals itself during the low tide. It is free to touch and look at, and can be a treat for those who are enthusiastic about ships and their history. You should also check out the Pachena Lighthouse on the way from Pachena Trailhead.
It will take you about four hours to complete the trail on an average. The creek is clean, without a hint of garbage.However, the same cannot be said for the people in the region for it is usually very crowded.
2. Darling River
Located about a mile’s hike from Michigan Creek, the Darling River is the second campsite on the West Coast Trail. Although the beach and the shoreline isn’t the prettiest view in the world, it’s a pretty decent place if you look past the aesthetic.
There’s a really fun obstacle course to test yourself out on. For those who love water bodies, there’s the Darling River and the beautiful Darling Falls to see. This campsite is more of a hidden gem, and is missed by a lot of campers. Safe to say, it’s not very crowded at any time.
The Darling River campsite almost lies hidden among the trees in the West Coast Trail. The emerald pool created around the Darling Falls is a brilliant place to camp and have a relaxing bath in.
3. Orange Juice Creek
The water here magically turns to orange juice on drinking, which is why it is called Orange Juice Creek. Yes, I wish that were true as well. Another secluded part of the West Coast Trail, the creek has a cave where you can spend the night if you’re not too scared of the creepers.
The water isn’t deep enough for a swim, but don’t let that discourage you from exploring. Orange Juice Creek is one of the best places for a campfire in all of the West Coast Trail. Although the water is orange and murky, that is simply due to the presence of minerals. The water is perfectly fine (and tasteless) to drink.
4. Tsocowis Creek
There’s a certain charm about Tsocowis Creek, despite the immensely messy beach. It’s a quiet place about one and a half kilometres away from Orange Juice Creek. With plenty of firewood sources, an abundance of peace and quiet, this is an amazing place to camp. There are basic amenities available much like the other campsites.
The wooden bridge at Tsocowis Creek offers a stunning view of the ruins on the beach, and is definitely worth checking out. You can also indulge yourself by taking a dip into the inviting waters of the sea.
Walking by the sandy beach offers you an amazing view of the Graveyard of the Pacific. There’s also a lot of history associated with the creek, and it’s a good idea to brush up to fully enjoy the place.
5. Klanawa River
Klanawa River has been rated as one of the best campsites in the West Coast Trail, and with good reason. There are a lot of fallen trees on the beach, but that adds to the uniqueness of the campsite in it’s own way. Cable car rides nearby only add to the reasons of why the Klanawa River is so highly rated.
With a plethora of sites to set up tents, the Klanawa River is surprisingly not one of the most camped-in places along the West Coast Trail. The river is only a few steps away from most tents and is wide and deep enough for a dip. The river flows slowly, so you shouldn’t have a problem dealing with the tide.
A campfire here, with marshmallows and songs is highly recommended. The silence and serenity is something that makes the Klanawa River area very special to be in.
Despite all of it’s merits, the Klanawa River is somewhat overlooked by hikers who have to spend a night in a tent. If the idea of camping in a forest seems to spooky to you, then you can try camping by the shore of the river. There are logs scattered all around which make for nice seating arrangements.
You can surely lose yourself in this natural spectacle, exploring the thick cover of trees and the rocky but beautiful shoreline that surrounds the woods.
6. Tsusiat Falls
The star of the West Coast Trail, the Tsusiat Falls is always crowded with hikers and tourists throughout the summer. But it is easy to see why so many people would want to have a glimpse of the falls.
Surrounded by one of the prettiest and the widest beaches in the West Coast Trail, the Tsusiat Falls are visible from every corner of the shore. The water from the ocean has dug up a channel to the falls as well, forming a connection to the nearby water body.
Having a bath under the fall is a great way to enjoy them to the fullest. The top of the waterfall is accessible via a short hike through a clear path. If you wander out far enough onto the beach, then you might discover a cave that is cozy and perfect for camping.
The Tsusiat Falls is arguably the most popular place for visitors to set up a tent, as the place gets really crowded with tents when the sun goes down.
If you’re someone like me, and love yourself some peace and quiet, then you should consider this.
Spend the first half exploring the Tsusiat Falls, and by the end of the second half, come back to the Klanawa River. This is a great way to get the best of both the campsites while catering to your needs of quietude.
7. Cribs Creek
About 17 kilometres down south from the Tsusiat Falls, you’ll find yourself in Cribs Creek. This campsite also has a reputation of being one of the most overcrowded ones along the West Coast Trail.
The beach isn’t as rocky as most of the other ones already mentioned. However, the sand is pretty hard to see given the cluster of tents that you’ll see all around. The place is nice for a campfire, but wood is hard to come by during the later months of the summer.
This is because a lot of hikers use up the wood in the early months of the hiking season. One of the main reasons why Cribs Creek is so crowded is because hikers tend to rest up before taking the 17 kilometre long route to the Tsusiat Falls, one of the longest in the West Coast Trail.
8. Carmanah Creek
If you’re a lover of the sea, and you find yourself hiking in the West Coast Trail, then this is paradise for you. Carmanah Creek has some of the clearest waters that you will ever see. And the vast and spotless beach only adds to the beauty.
Good news for the introverts, this place isn’t very crowded. Most people prefer camping at the Cribs Creek, which makes little to no sense anyway.
There are stunning views no matter which way you look. The sunset over the lighthouse is something that you should really watch if you want one of the best views you’ll ever see.
9. Bonilla Creek
Sadly, this is one of the most neglected places in the West Coast Trail. The Bonilla Falls offer the chance for an amazing bath, which few take. The sunset from this campsite is one that is breathtaking, much like the Carmanah Creek.
The beach isn’t as crowded as most others, so you can camp in peace. There’s also an abundance of fresh water at this campsite, so you don’t need to worry about water consumption.
The West Coast Trail has a lot of shipwrecks to see, and the Puritan shipwreck is another name on that long list.
10. Walbran Creek
The Walbran Creek takes the prize for the most underrated campsite on the West Coast Trail. The beach is clean, and is great for a swim. It also offers a great view across the country to the Land of Opportunity.
Cable car rides are also another way to add to the experience at the Walbran Creek. It is surrounded by the cliffs and the woods on one side, and the vast Pacific on the other. Gigantic ladders also surround the creek on either side.
The logs of driftwood are scattered across the beach and can even be engineered to make bedrooms in the tents! Overall, a brilliant place in the middle of the West Coast Trail that definitely needs a lot more recognition than it does.
11. Cullite Cove
The Cullite Cove is one of the most scenic campsites on the West Coast Trail. It is best visited during the sunlight, as the light peeps through the canopy of the trees covering the area and makes for a great atmosphere.
There’s an amazing view from every angle of the Cullite Cove, so it really doesn’t matter where you set up your tent. You’re always going to have a brilliant view.
The beach is clean and inviting for a swim. It is also a rather challenging stretch to hike, made a lot easier by the ladders on either end.
12. Camper Bay
The penultimate campsite of the West Coast Trail, and the second if you’re coming up from south. The Camper Bay offers a steady water source to the numerous hikers who set up camp, some of whom are full of energy and look fresh.
The creek is spacious and is well laid out, with cliffs nearby only waiting to be explored. Boats pass by every now and then, some even dropping supplies. This can become a bit boring if you let yourself linger for too long.
Much like the Walbran Creek, you can have a nice view of the Juan de Fuca Strait. The USA lies beyond the stretch of water.
13. Thrasher Cove
Coming down from the north, this is the final campsite that you will encounter. If you’re starting from the south, then this is where your adventure through the West Coast Trail begins!
There’s a nice, sandy beach which offers great views. Much like other campsites in the south. The Thrasher Cove is a great introduction to the West Coast Trail, and a mellow ending to the thrilling adventure that people in the north take.
It is not the best place to swim, as the water dries up during the summer. The Cove is a bit too close to the world for you to realize what the West Coast Trail Truly is.
The basic amenities present at every campsite are the animal proof food lockers and the guard houses which exist to take care of the hikers in case of any emergency. The West Coast Trail is not accessible during winter due to the crazy storms that take place throughout the winter season.
All in all, the challenging trail is a great place to test out your hiking skills and make some thrilling memories along the way!
Read more here: Exploring Kananaskis Park