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July 2021

The West Coast Trail Cheat Sheet with VPO Abbotsford & VPO Vernon

About the WCT

75 km of trail, beach, boardwalks, ladders, mud, rocks, river crossings, cable cars, incredible views, and epic memories.

Trails cross the territories of and are maintained by the Huuay-aht, Ditidaht, and Pacheedaht first nations groups.

Camping spots are reservable from May 1st to September 30th each year. Maximum group size is 10 hikers from ages 6+ (recommended 12+).

Entry Points

  • Pachena Bay (North)
  • Nitinaht Village (mid-point)
  • Gordon River (South)

Typical Timeline

The trail can be completed in either direction. By completing the trail from South-to-North you start with the ladders and mud. By completing the trail North-to-South you climb the ladders at the end, but have the lightest pack.

Most hikers plan for a 5 or 7 day trip. Here are a couple of sample timelines for a South-to-North trek:

7 1/2 Day Itinerary

  • Day 1: Gordon River to Thrasher Cove (6 km)
  • Day 2: Thrasher Cove to Camper Bay (8 km)
  • Day 3: Camper Bay to Walbran Creek (9 km)
  • Day 4: Walbran Creek to Cribs Creek (10 km)
  • Day 5: Cribs Creek to Tsusiat Falls (17 km)
  • Day 6: Spend extra day at Tsusiat Falls
  • Day 7: Tsusiat Falls to Michigan Creek (13 km)
  • Day 8: MIchian to Pachena Bay (12 km)

5 1/2 Day Itinerary

  • Day 1: Gordon River to Thrasher Cover (6 km)
  • Day 2: Thrasher Cove to Cullite Creek (11 km)
  • Day 3: Cullite Creek to Carmanah Creek (12 km)
  • Day 4: Carmanah Creek to Tsusiat Falls (21 km)
  • Day 5: Tsusiat Falls to Michigan Creek (13 km)
  • Day 6: Michigan Creek to Pachena Bay (12 km)

Preparing for the Trail

  • Register your spots
  • Plan your transportation to/from the trailheads. Several options exist, the most common being the West Coast Trail Bus (
  • Know your gear! Make sure to test your gear on a couple trips before your start the WCT
  • Know your itinerary
  • Do the orientation (currently done online after you register)
  • Set your mind right! The trip is going to challenge you. If you commit to a good time, it will be an unforgettable trip

Gear & Packing

The BIG 5

These are the top 5 items that you should choose to invest your money into. They can make or break your trip and turn a dream of an experience into a nightmare.

Footwear: Comfort First
This is the #1 piece of gear that will make or break your trip. If you can only afford to invest in a single item, choose your footwear. If you have never been fit for a pair of footwear, come see us and we will help!
Find a Valhalla Pure Outfitters near you

Waterproof hiking boots with a good tread are recommended. Your boots should be higher than your ankles for protection and to keep sand/mud out of your shoes (as much as possible). Multiple pairs of socks and a comfortable pair of insoles are a must. Synthetic, merino wool, or bamboo socks are all great options, just avoid cotton socks.

Backpack: Fit Is Essential
Use a backpack that fits properly and that you know how to adjust throughout the day. If you are not sure if your pack fits or how to adjust it yourself, come visit us and we will help you! Most hikers use a 55L or larger for the West Coast Trail. This is highly dependent on your gear, group size, and length of trip.

Tent: Your Home Away from Home
You will need a waterproof tent. We highly recommend you also get a ground sheet. Your tent is your most significant opportunity to save weight, so choose and invest wisely. If treated well, your tent can last your 10+ years and beyond.

Sleeping Bag: Your Nightly Cocoon
Synthetic bags are recommended because of how wet the WCT can be. Recommended temperature is a -1 to -7C bag, depending on the date of your trip and how you sleep. Down bags are still a great option, but be more conscious about keeping your bag dry and try to avoid putting it away wet.

Here are a few great options:
Men’s Mountain Hardwear Lamina Sleeping Bag
Women’s Mountain Hardwear Lamina Sleeping Bag

Sleeping Pad: The Difference Between a Recharged and an Exhausted Hiker
Nothing is worse than a grumpy hiker. Each night is your chance to recover from the trail, so choose a sleeping pad that you are comfortable on. Carry your patch kit that comes with the pad. Side sleepers will need a thicker mat, or a mat that is inflated more. Your backpacking sleeping pad should have some insulation that will keep the ground from sucking away your heat at night.

Here are a couple of great options:
Budget: Therm-A-Rest Scout
Ultralight: Therm-A-Rest Prolite Apex, NeoAir
Luxury: NEMO Quasar Long/Wide (make sure you know the dimensions of your tent before choosing this one!

The Little 5

These items are still essential, but you have an opportunity to save some money here and borrow or use more inexpensive options.

Stoves & Cookware
Do not rely on a campfire to cook your food on the WCT. Conditions may be too wet (and you will struggle at the end of a long trek to get things going) or too dry (with a campfire ban) to reliably cook on a fire. Your stove choice will depend on how you want to cook.

Freeze-Dried Only:
I recommend, and personally use, a JetBoil or Reactor, which are both super efficient and compact.

Scrambled Eggs & Other Cooking:
For more extensive cooking, choosing a liquid stove is your best option, such as the Whisperlite.

For liquid fuel stoves you will need to carry a manually pressurized canister. For stoves like the JetBoil, Reactor, PocketRocket, etc. you will carry pre-pressurized canisters. Use will vary! We've got lots of fuel options in stock.

Water Filter or Purification
Tablets or filter? A ceramic filter makes for quick access to water that tastes great. Always carry drops or tablets as backup. If you choose to carry only tablets, it helps to bring some flavour for your water. If you plan to boil water, make sure you account for that with your fuel.

Gaiter: Happy Feet or Sandy Feet
For the west coast trail, gaiters are ESSENTIAL. They need to be tough, water proof, and have reliable straps. Buckles are better than buttons and velcro is better than zippers because of the sand. My favourite are the gaiters by Outdoor Research, but almost any of these will work. We've got tons of gaiters in stock for men and women.

Trekking Poles
Great for added stability while hiking through the muck, over wet rocks, and river crossings. Aluminium poles are recommended because they are extremely durable. Latch closures usually do better than twist closures in the sand.
Keep you poles as clean as you can or rinse them out in fresh water often. Ultimately any of these will work.

Tarp with 100 Feet of Rope: Your Opportunity to Eat Dinner and Stay Dry
The tarp is the only item on the above list that is not 100% necessary, but highly recommended. The best tarps are Rab Siltarp, which are super light and waterproof. Tarps can also provide much needed refuge from the sun while camped on the beach where there typically is no shade.

The 10 Essentials

Here is a bonus list of the essentials for any outdoor adventure. There is some overlap with the list above, but the items below should be accounted for in everyone's pack on every adventure:

Some Notes on Food

Anyone else get ‘Hangry’? No? Just me? …You’re lying to yourself if you think you can just eat Cliff Bars and jerky the whole trip. Planning out your food can make your whole trip better. Also, be certain that you and your teammates are eating the food that you’ve brought. Under heavy exertion or stress you may not feel hungry but it’s important that you continue to eat in order to keep your energy reserves up.

How much food should I bring?
In general, pack 800-1000 more calories than you typically consume in a day. If you don’t know how much you typically eat, you can aim for 3,000 calories per day.

How should I pack my food?
Ideally you pack all your food in a dry bag or a bear canister. I usually separate my food into separate plastic bags per day so I know exactly how much I need to eat and I do not have to think about it.

How do I keep my food bear-safe?
There are bear caches at each of the official campsites. Sometimes the bear caches are full, or you have to camp away from an official campsite. In this case, follow these tips on how to safely hang your food: How to Hang a Bear Bag

Freeze Dried Meals
Freeze dried options are lightweight, calorie dense, and easy to make. The downside is they can be pricey
Make sure you try some of the meals before you go on your trip so that you know what you like.

Sample Gear List

Apparel Basics

Rain/Cold Weather Apparel


Additional Resources

Parks Canada site with Registration/Reservations, FAQ, Hiker Preparation Guide, and WCT History:

1 Hiker’s experience on the WCT:

How to hang a bear bag:

How to pack a backpack for hiking:

West Coast Trail Facebook group:

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