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: http://www.surfingvancouverisland.com/surf/st1203trailtrial.htm
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 email@example.com. 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 instead....it'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|