Planning your Hike on the West Coast Trail
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Planning your hike on the West Coast Trail
| || Dates in effect annually||Notes |
||May 1 – September 30
||June 15 – September 15
||Hikers can gain access to the trail by either making a reservations or registering on the standby list.|
||October 1 – April 30
||The West Coast Trail (WCT) is closed due to prolonged periods of heavy rain, strong winds, high tides, large waves and short days. |
Pachena Bay/Gordon River Entries
Hikers can access the trail by either making a reservation or registering on the standby list. Per day, 50 spaces are available to hikers with reservations and 10 spaces are available for standby hikers. Unused reservation spaces are made available to standby hikers.
For 2014, reservations can be made as of March 24 for any date during the reservable period from June 15 to September 15.
Standby List: Hikers can register on the standby list when they arrive at either the Pachena Bay or Gordon River WCT Information Centre. Wait times have on occasion reached two days.
Hikers wishing to access the trail at Nitinat (midpoint) will go through the permitting, orientation and payment process at the Ditidaht First Nation Visitor Centre in Nitinat Village. Hikers must call to schedule their orientation process in advance as this office is only open by request. Requests can be made as much as one week in advance but no less than 24 hours in advance of the planned arrival time. Eight overnight hike spaces are allotted to Nitinat per day, and are available on a first booked, first served basis.
NOTE: Nitinat Village entries are not reservable through the Parks Canada reservation service. To make arrangements for access via Nitinat, contact the Ditidaht First Nation Visitor Centre.
All overnight users of the WCT must participate in an orientation session and obtain a park permit.
The purpose of the orientation is to:
- reduce the number of hiker injuries by providing information about safety issues.
- reduce environmental impacts by providing back country etiquette information.
- provide information about current issues and trail conditions.
- provide a brief history of the West Coast Trail and its place in Canada’s history.
- issue park permits and collect fees.
When attending the session:
- Bring along your reservation confirmation information.
- Hikers with reservations will be issued a waterproof WCT map. Hikers who have not made a reservation can
purchase the map during their orientation process for $8.50.
Orientations at Gordon River/Pachena Bay
- Orientations are offered at 9:30am, 1:00pm and 3:30pm. at the Gordon River WCT Information Centre and 9:30am, 12:30pm, and 3:00pm at the Pachena Bay WCT Information Centre.
- Reservations are not necessary for the orientation process at the Gordon River or Pachena Bay trailheads.
- The orientation process takes about 1½ hours.
- Hikers may register and participate in an orientation session as early as 3:30 pm the day before their hike starts.
- We strongly recommend hikers start the trail a minimum of 5 hours before sunset to ensure a camping area is reached before nightfall.
- Hiking from Gordon River to Camper Bay in one day is not advisable. Plan to camp at Thrasher Cove. Statistics show that most accidents occur later in the day in this area.
- If your party will arrive after 1:00 pm on the reserved start date you must contact the WCT Information Centre at your access point to prevent your reserved spaces from being given to hikers on stand-by.
Orientations at Nitinat Village
- Hikers must call in advance (maximum 1 week and minimum 24 hours) of their planned arrival to pre-arrange an orientation session and departure date/time.
- At the end of your hike, register your party off the WCT. Return one copy of the park permit to a WCT Information Centre or the Ditidaht First Nation Visitor Centre. Permits can be placed in the marked drop box if the WCT Information centre or the Ditidaht First Nation Visitor Centre are closed.
All hikers should draft a trip plan and leave it with a responsible friend or family member. Details should include:
- departure date
- expected return date
- planned hiking route
- names of travelling partners and their emergency contact information
- what to do if you do not return as planned
NOTE: A park permit DOES NOT fulfill this role.