West Coast Trail History

Over 7,500 backpackers from around the world come to the beautiful traditional territory our people, the Huu-ay-aht as well as the Ditidaht and Pacheedaht Nations to hike and learn about West Coast Trail history. The West Coast Trail between the Vancouver Island communities of Bamfield and Port Renfrew, BC, is a multi-day backpacking trail that is a challenge for even the most experienced hikers.


Our people, the Huu-ay-aht have lived in this area of Vancouver Island for the last 10,000 years. Our people created paths and paddling routes that were used for travel and trade. Villages have existed along the west coast long before the arrival of Europeans.

As more ships navigated the coast of Vancouver Island during the 1800s and 1900s, they sailed over a rugged coast. Shipwrecks were common and sailors ended up stranded on the desolate coast. A trail, called the Dominion Life Saving Trail, was built that improved and linked the old pathways of our peoples.  Six shelters along with a telegraph line with provisions were built to allow for sailors to survive until help arrived and notify authorities their location.

In 1970, the Canadian Federal Government created a National Park called Pacific Rim National Park Reserve and three years later, the Dominion Life Saving Trail was brought under the management of the Park board and renamed the West Coast Trail.


This is one of the most challenging hikes in North America. But with the challenges come spectacular beauty.

The hike wanders along the coastline through old growth forests, sandy beaches, rocky headlands, slippery, root laden sections and navigates up and down many ladders. Doing all of this while carrying a week’s worth of food and your gear on your back, makes for a rewarding experience.

Hiking the West Coast trail is not for the inexperienced. Being fit before the start of the trip is key to truly enjoying every minute of the day.

Most hikers take 6-8 days to complete the West Coast Trail. There are specified campsites along the trail which make sure that everyone has a place to pitch their tent at the end of the day. Parks Canada recommends that you depart each campsite at least five hours before sundown to have time to make it to the next campsite.


Whether you are starting are ending your hike in Bamfield, the rooms at Upnit Lodge Bamfield’s waterfront accommodation, are a great place to stay. Situated in Bamfield, BC, there are lodge rooms for every size of group and type of traveller.


Being one of the most popular trails in North America for hikers from all over the world, reservations should be made well in advance of your trip. Reservations are necessary as there are a limited number of people allowed on the trail on any given day.

Parks Canada Online Reservation System handles all bookings as this trail is located within Pacific Rim National Park.

Book Your Accommodation at Upnit Lodge

Whether you are starting or ending the West Coast Trail, our beautiful rooms are an excellent place to stay while in Bamfield.