There are several Vancouver Island Hiking Trails that we regularly provide transportation to and from. Below you will find some general information about the trails we cater to. The information is a brief explanation of the trails and does not provide detailed information. However, do not worry, we have provided links to websites for you to read in more detail about the trail you have chosen to traverse. A reminder, if you wish to be picked-up or dropped off at a different location other than the ones we service, please send us an e-mail and we will do our best to accommodate you.
CAPE SCOTT TRAIL
One of the trails we cater to is Cape Scott. Cape Scott is the most northern point on Vancouver Island. The park has a reputation for having some very extreme weather. It has the most rainfall out of any destination in Canada, over 112 inches every year. If you are planning an excursion there, “BE PREPARED FOR THE WORST.” If you choose to hike in Cape Scott, be prepared to be rained on. Rain is the norm in Cape Scott. I recall being in the park when a hurricane came through Cape Scott. It was a very cold and windy night. We took shelter in a ranger’s cabin for the night until the hurricane passed. The wind speeds were measured to be close to 170 km/hr. It was an impressive display of Mother Nature. If you go there bring several changes of dry clothes. There are lots of little creeks and streams where you can get water from. The water is very clean. Personally, I do not use a water filter as the water is so pristine/clean.
Cape Scott has two trails. The main one being Cape Scott, which leads you to Nells Bite and Nissen Bite (two beaches in the park – both are spectacular examples of the West Coast geography). If you want to hike to the lighthouse, you will have to hike to Nells Bite. .” If you hike this trail, you should see the light house as it has historical significance, and the view from the “light house is simply spectacular. If you want to hike to the North Coast Trail you will have to hike to Nissen Bite. Both destinations are spectacular ocean beaches. They are wonderful places to camp. Personally I like to camp on the beach for several days to relax. The second trail is the North Coat Trail. When you are hiking on the trails pay attention to the trail, but also look at the ground you are walking on. Very often you will see foot prints/tracks from animals that reside in the park like cougars, bears, wolves. Bring a water-proof camera if you have one. Do not bring an expensive camera into the park due to the high amount of rainfall. I did one time, and I accidentally dropped it into a pile of muddy water. It never worked after that.
Additionally, do not forget to bring “gators.” You will need a pair of these. If you do not you will probably end up getting wet feet. They are not too expensive and they usually last for a while. If you can, buy the gore-tex ones. Gators are the water proof sleeves that attach to your hiking boots. They cover your boots and lower legs. They protect our boots from getting wet. As for a jacket, there are many to choose from. I have tried many over the years and all of them have failed. If you are going to buy a new one consider these three options: 1. A jacket with sealed seams, 2. A poncho which will keep you and your backpack dry, and they are very cheap, 3. Or just and ordinary plastic/rubber rain coat. The hike to Nells bite is a day hike. Plan on another day if you go to see the light house, and another day to explore Nissen Bite. At the very end, or start, you can spend one last day exploring the beautiful and surreal rock formations at the North end of the beach at San Joseph Beach which is the very first beach you can access in the park. Watch the signs in the park for directions. Use the link below to find out 9more about the trail. Seeing the beaches and the lighthouse will take you 4-5 days.
The north coast trail runs parallel to the main trail. However, with the main trail you start and finish at the same point. On the North coast Trail you finish at a different destination other than where you started. Which trail you decide to do depends on you, but you will need transportation to the Cape Scott trail head either way. There is a boat/ferry service that operates out of Port Hardy called West Coast Shuttle Service. They pick people up and drop people off who are hiking the North coast Trail. I will discuss more about this in the next section “Hiking from the North End.”
• BE SURE TO WATCH THE GROUND YOU ARE WALKING ON. YOU MIGHT see TRACKS FROM A COUGAR OR A BEAR, or even a pack of wolves.
NORTH COAST TRAIL – HIKING from the North end
Hikers embarking on the North Coast Trail will need to decide whether they want to start from the South end of the trail, or if they want to start at the North end. You need to think about this carefully. If you start at the north end, you will have to traverse the main trail from the trail head at Cape Scott and hike to Nissen Bite. Here, at the south end of the beach, you will find the start of the North Coast Trail. You will need transportation to the trail head at Cape Scott. We can pick you up in Nanaimo, or Victoria, or any point in between these destinations and take you to the trail head. Again, beware if you decide to drive there as you have to leave your vehicle there for the duration of your excursion. You are out in the middle of God’s country and there is no one around to watch your vehicle. There have been countless break-and-enters into people’s vehicles. If you reserve with us, you do not have to worry about your vehicle. It is money well spent.
Prior to starting your journey, you will have to make arrangements/reservations with the North Coast Shuttle Service to either. If you hike from the North and go south you will finish in Shushartie Bay where the North Coast Shuttle will pick you up by boat and bring you back to Port Hardy. They can bring you back to Port Hardy where we can pick you up and either drive you to the start of the trail to your vehicle, or we can drive you to any other destination listed in our schedule (Victoria, Nanaimo, etc.). If you decide to hike from the South, again you will have to make arrangements/reservations to be dropped off by the North Coast Shuttle Service at Shushartie Bay. See more information about hiking from the South end below. The average time to hike this trail is about 5-7 days depending on your pace. The trail can be challenging in some parts/sections. It is a moderate to difficult hike. See the link below for more information.
IMPORTANT: Remember, the North Coast Trail is in Cape Scott Provincial Park, so be prepared for the worst.
Simplified – starting from the north
DRIVE TO CAPE SCOTT TRAIL HEAD – HIKE TO NISSEN BITE through the main trail in cape scott – the trail starts at the north end of the beach called “nissen bite” — HIKE THE NORTH COAST TRAIL –GET PICKED UP BY THE NORTH COAST SHUTTLE SERVICE IN SHUSHARTIE BAY – WE PICK YOU UP IN PORT RENFREW OR CAPE SCOTT TRAIL HEAD AND DRIVE YOU TO YOUR NEXT DSTINATION.
North coast trail – hiking from the South end
There are two starting points to the North Coast Trail, one is through Cape Scott Provincial Park. The other starting point is via the South end of the trail. If you decide to go through the South end you will access the trail-head by water taxi/boat. There is a shuttle service (North Coast Trail Shuttle) that will take you from Port Renfrew to Shushartie Bay, which is the start of the North Coast Trail. You must make a reservation with them. Personally, I would recommend starting from the North for several reasons. First, the terrain for the first 10 kilometers of the South end is very rugged and full of mud. Second you will be starting with a full pack, which makes it even more difficult. The last time I hiked the North Coast Trail was last August when it was a little warmer, there was still a lot of mud to contend with. The trail meanders close to the ocean. If you like a challenge, then start the trail from the South end. You must specify when making your reservation if you want us to pick you up at the trail head in Cape Scott or in Port Renfrew at the North Coast Trail Shuttle passenger area. Again, remember you are in Cape Scott park so be prepared for adverse weather and do bring ‘gators.’ Be sure to watch the ocean as you hike, you might catch a glimpse of a whale breaching the water.
Simplified – starting from the south
ARRIVE IN PORT RENFREW – CATCH THE NORTH COAST TRAIL SHUTTLE TO SHUSHARTIE BAY – HIKE THE NORTH COAST TRAIL –HIKE BACK TO THE CAPE SCOTT TRAIL HEAD – WE PICK YOU UP AND DRIVE YOU TO YOUR NEXT DESTINATION
Please note, in case the North Coast Shuttle Service is late, there is a one-hour grace period. That is to say, if the shuttle service is running late, do not worry. Relax, we will be waiting to pick you up in Port Renfrew to take you to your next destination.
WEST COAST TRAIL
By far one of the most scenic of all the trails on Vancouver Island, the West Coast trail is something you must do if you are traveling here to go backpacking. You can start the West Coast Trail from either Port Renfrew (South end) or from Bamfield/Pachena Bay (North end). Once you have finished your journey you will need to be picked up by car/truck and driven to your next destination. You can start from either end of the trail, the north or the south. The hike is a little easier if you start from the north as the geography/topography is not so demanding. When you are just starting off with a full pack, it makes the journey a little easier. If you come from the south the topography is a little more demanding at the start. Most backpackers tend to start from Bamfield/Pachena Bay. However, Port Renfrew is just as good.
The trail has a mix of inclines, ladders, and switchbacks. There are lots of access points to the beach. Count on being rained on, so bring good rain gear for your hike. The average time it takes to hike this trail is between 5-8 days depending on your pace. The scenery is breathtaking so do not rush. The West Coast Trail is ranked as one of the top ten hikes in all of North America. When hiking the trails on Vancouver Island, remember to look down to see if there are any bear, cougar, or deer tracks on the ground below to see if they have passed through the trail recently. There are also lots of deer on the trail. You should be in good physical condition to hike this rail. There are over 100 ladders you must climb some with more than 100 steps/rungs. Climbing ladders with a backpack can be very exhausting, so be prepared physically.
*We can pick you up and drop you off at either end and drive you to your next destination. Please refer to our schedule.
JUAN de FUCA TRAIL
There are two starting points to the Juan De Fuca trail. One is from the South end through China Beach, which is the closest destination to Victoria. And the other is from the North through Botanical Beach which is located in Port Renfrew, very close to the starting point of the West Coast Trail. Many people who travel here to Vancouver Island to go backpacking like to do the West Coast Trail and then do the Juan De Fuca Trail or the opposite, Juan deFuca Trail and then the West Coast Trail. The trail is not very demanding. There are some minor hills and several switchbacks on the trail, but it is not a difficult trail to hike. There are plenty of access points to the beach. Remember you are on the West Coast so be prepared as it will likely rain. The trail is very picturesque. There are lots of small creeks and rivers for you to gather water. Remember to watch the ground for animal tracks. I have seen many black bears, deer, and even wolves, but I have never seen a cougar. They are very reclusive animals. People say, “If you have seen cougar tracks in the forest, it is very likely the cougar has seen you. You need not worry about wildlife. Always keep your distance. Enjoy them from a distance and you should not have any problems. We pick up and drop off at both locations. The average time to finish the trail is about 5 days, 3 if you rush. But why rush?
Important information for North Coast Trail backpackers
If you are hiking the North Coast Trail, you will need to make reservations with the North Coast Trail Shuttle. We can pick you up in Port Hardy at the North Coast Trail Shuttle service terminal, or at the trail head parking lot to Cape Scott. If for any reason you need their address it is 6555 Port Hardy Bay Road. You can also find out more information about them on the internet. This service caters only to people who wish to hike the North coast Trail which is located in Cape Scott Provincial Park. Please refer to the map link if you require more information. The trail is well marked, but pay close attention to the trail markers on the beach. If you miss one, it can be easy to get confused and lost. Due to the fact that Cape Scott is so remote, our trips to cape Scott are every two weeks. However, we would return after one week to pick you up. For example, if we dropped you off on a Saturday, we would return the following Saturday to pick you up to take you to your next destination. Please see our schedule for more detailed information. Don’t forget to e-mail us if you have any questions.
PICK-UP AND DROP-OFF LOCATIONS
Our business provides a passenger service which picks up and drops off passengers in and in between, these trails at the following points:
PICKUP IN-BETWWEN DROP OFF
Nanaimo Bamfield Jordan River
Victoria Port Alberni Honeymoon Bay
Port Hardy Nitinat Junction Port Renfrew
Port McNeill Gordon River China Beach
Mt Washington Sombrio Beach Sooke
Pachena Bay Mesachie Lake Bamfield
Additionally, we do pick up passengers at the Victoria ferry terminal, as well as the Nanaimo Ferry Terminal. Just watch for our bus in the pick-up and drop-off area at the passenger terminal. If you wish to be dropped off at another location anywhere in between these points that is not listed in our schedule/itinerary, simply ask us, and we will gladly accommodate you.
Important information for backpackers traveling to port hardy, port mcneil, and cape scott
Due to the fewer number of passengers traveling to these destinations, pick-up and drop-off service is every second Saturday. We will pick-up and drop off passengers on a Saturday and return the following Saturday to pick-up and drop off passengers. There must be a minimum of five/5 people (ie. that is to say five/5 reservations) for our shuttle bus to traverse the long drive to Cape Scott. Please refer to our schedule for times. Cape Scott is by far the most distant of all of the trails we service and therefore the least used. It is a magnificent place to go backpacking, and an even more magnificent place to see wildlife. Cape Scott is the most remote place on Vancouver Island. It also has some of the most extreme weather conditions. If you are planning a trip to Cape Scott you should be well prepared – “BE PREPARED FOR THE WORST”.
IMPORTANT – FOR CAPE SCOTT BACKPACKERS ONLY
DID YOU FORGET SOMETHING?
Our bus does make a scheduled stop at a local “sporting goods store” where you can buy, replace, or simply browse at new equipment you might have forgotten or lost. We also make a scheduled stop at a local market where you can buy all of the food you will need for your excursion.