Sunday, 26 January 2014

Hiking the West Coast Trail in Winter

I was recently asked if it was possible to hike the West Coast Trail in the winter. The short answer is no.

It is illegal to stay overnight on the West Coast Trail in the off-season (Oct 1-April 30) and Parks Canada will fine anyone caught doing so. I have heard accounts from several people being fined. Here is one:

On a practical note, it would be possible to hike in from Bamfield to Nitinat Narrows, but next to impossible to cross the Narrows. I've heard about people doing hare-brained things like trying to swim across or float across on a log, but I would really really really advise against that. I've seen the Narrows whipped into a frenzy, the currents are very strong. The ferry operators can navigate them due to familiarity, but they're very hazardous for even skilled sailors, kayakers etc. Furthermore, the winter storms on the west coast of Vancouver Island can be gnarly, and as there are no easy exits from the trail once you're in the middle of it, getting stuck in a dangerous situation if a storm blows in is a real possibility.

However, if anyone has hiked the West Coast Trail in the winter successfully, I'd be interested in hearing about your experiences. You can contact me anonymously through email at I will never advise someone to hike it in winter, as it is illegal and quite dangerous, however I am curious as to why and how someone would do so for my research project.

If you are looking for a coastal hike during the off-season I`d hike the Juan de Fuca Trail's open, it's along a more sheltered part of the coast, and it's easy to exit quickly if a storm blows in. I myself hiked it in mid-April, and I know folks who've had a lovely time hiking it during a good stretch of weather in February. Hiking in to Keeha Beach and camping there is another option, and you are almost guarenteed to have the beach to yourself. I spent a lovely Thanksgiving weekend on Keeha and a black bear was the only other creature on the beach that we saw besides ourselves.

Thanksgiving camp on Keeha

Dressing for October weather....... a mixed bag


  1. Lovin the October outfit! What have you got planned for this year?

  2. Sarah: gotta get more research done, and then get married, so summer is pretty darn booked. I'll be out on the trail if all goes well May-July.

  3. Very great blog of yours which is great effort for the information. My blog is about
    manaslu trekking which is become number one tea house treks and walking in Nepal. Lets enjoy the manaslu trekking Nepal.

  4. Everest Circuit Day to Day Itinerary
    Day 01 : Arrive Kathmandu / dinner with cultural program.
    Day 02 : Explore Boudhnath and Pashupatinath / Trip preparation.
    Day 03 : Fly to Lukla and start Everest trekking.
    Day 04-05 : Trekking to Namche / Acclimatization rest day.
    Day 06 : Trek to Kumjung.
    Day 07-08 : Trekking up the Gokyo Valley and enjoy views of massive Cho Oyu.
    Day 09-10 : Climb Gokyo Ri / savour the stunning looks of Mt. Everest and pristine lakes.
    Day 11 : Trekking on the moraines of the Ngozumpa Glacier to Thangna.
    Day 12-13 : Cross the challenging Chola pass and trek to Lobuche: enjoy the superb beauty of Nature.
    Day 14 : Trekking Kala Pathar for views across Khumbu Glacier to Everest.
    Day 15 : Exploration to the Everest Base Camp.
    Day 16-18 : Trekking down to Lukla to end the Everest circuit trek via Pheriche, Thyangboche.
    Day 19 : Himalayan flight back to Kathmandu / Rest day.
    Day 20 : Free day in Kathmandu.
    Day 21 : Trip ends / Airport transfer.