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The.West.Coast.Trail

Recommended This Week

West Coast Trail Campsites

West Coast Trail Campsites


Plenty of campsites along the West Coast Trail, some are good and others are terrible

Unfortunately there is little information available on which are nice and which are mediocre.  This is one of the many important features missing in the various West Coast Trail guidebooks available.  Here is a quick rundown on several of the possible campsites, and more importantly, pictures to illustrate why these spots are good or bad.  Also an indication of how nice each is with, poor, mediocre, good or excellent.  Picking a beautiful campsite over an awful one makes a tremendous difference.

The campsite order here is from Bamfield's Pachena trailhead to Port Renfrew's, Gordon River trailhead. Kilometre numbers are from that trailhead, however the posted KM markers on the trail also start from the Pachena trailhead. From the Port Renfrew trailhead the KM markers count down from 75KM to 0KM at Pachena.

Maps and Trail Pictures>>

12km Michigan Creek Campsite(poor)


The campsite at Michigan Creek is the first or last campsite you will encounter on the West Coast Trail. First if you begin your hike at the Pachena trailhead(hiking south) and last if you begin in Port Renfrew(hiking north). The 12.1 kilometres(7.5 miles) between the Pachena trailhead and Michigan Creek is fairly easy and flat. Compared to the rest of the West Coast Trail, this section is wonderfully relaxing. At a brisk pace, you should be able to hike this section in a little over 3 hours. At a more relaxed pace, and stopping at the Pachena Lighthouse, you will take 4 or 5 hours from the trailhead.

West Coast Trail Campsites - Michigan Creek

You will find a few clearings in the forest above the beach ideal for tents as well as room for dozens of tents along the beach. Though the beach is not terribly nice lower down, up next to the forest it is fairly nice. Soft, clean sand, plenty of driftwood all around and great areas to smooth out for a tent. When the tide goes out, the rock shelf is exposed and is a bit ugly with its green slimy cover of sea life. Certainly not inviting a swim like you will find at most other beaches along the trail. Certainly the highlight of Michigan Creek is the extraordinary remnant of the Michigan shipwreck trapped on the rocky shelf revealed by low tide. The huge boiler of the Michigan is so large that it sits ominously in a depression on the rocky shelf near where it drops off to deeper ocean. From the sandy shoreline, this rusty hulk sits about 70 metres away as large waves constantly pound it. You can easily walk out to it when the tide is low and get a close look at just a couple metres away. Getting close enough to touch it will require a short and cold plunge into the ocean with swirling water all around.

The West Coast Trail - Michigan CampsiteThe West Coast Trail - Michigan Shipwreck

The Michigan shipwreck on the West Coast Trail is the first one you can see and actually touch, which is incredible since it is well over a century old. On January 21st, 1893 this 695 ton steam schooner was heading to Puget Sound from San Francisco. The strong northerly current that prevails in this part of the Pacific and would eventually cause dozens of shipwrecks, caused the Michigan to massively overrun her position. Instead of sailing into the Strait of Juan de Fuca, she collided with Vancouver Island in the middle of the night. The shoreline was relatively easy to escape to, and the 25 people on board managed to get ashore. Later, when the seas calmed the crew was able to retrieve a boat from the wreck and rowed to Neah Bay for assistance. A ship rescue was attempted, but was not successful. One death resulted from the attempt to hike over the old telegraph trail to Carmanah Point. A testament to how wild and difficult it was then as compared to now.

14km Darling River Campsite(excellent)


The beach is a bit better than Michigan Creek but the the presence of Darling Falls, hidden away from the beach, makes this site fantastic.  Like something out of a movie, water pours into a swimming pool size, emerald green pool.  Startlingly beautiful and incredible to swim in! Most put up a tent high up the beach, above high tide. You will find numerous places to put up a tent ind the midst of randomly arrayed driftwood. The sand is lovely and clean and you have the same amenities as you have at Michigan Creek.  Proper, deluxe outhouses and food cache boxes.

Darling Falls - West Coast Trail Campsites

Darling Campsite - West Coast Trail CampsitesDarling River - West Coast Trail Campsites

15km Orange Juice Creek Campsite(mediocre)


An alright beach, good water source, though orange juice coloured!  Maybe the only plus is the relative serenity of this site, as not many people stop here for the night.  Almost all pass by and continue past Orange Juice Creek to camp at Michigan Creek a couple kilometres further toward the end of the trail at Pachena.  Orange Juice Creek has a fairly decent beach, much better than at Michigan Creek or even Darling River.  One really cool feature of Orange Juice Creek is the cave, hidden along the shoreline(pictured here), that can be a serene refuge from wet weather.  Some even camp in this cave, which is a bit spooky.. but a pretty memorable West Coast Trail experience.  There is another one of these at Tsusiat Falls, so you may make a habit out of cave camping!  There are food storage boxes at Orange Juice Creek, but no outhouses.

Orange Juice Cave - West Coast Trail Campsites

Orange Juice Creek - West Coast Trail CampsitesOrange Juice Creek - West Coast Trail Campsites

16.5km Tsocowis Creek Campsite(good)


Tsocowis Creek has a decent beach, good water and is much quieter than other spots.  Hikers tent to pass this campsite and push on to the end of the trail(or the next campsite if heading south).  Everybody it seems camp at Tsusiat Falls or Klanawa River.  Both less than 9 kilometres further south.  Tsocowis Creek is an entry or exit point from the beach trail and there is an alternate trail that runs through the forest north to Darling River.  The beach route seems far better all around however, and much easier too!

Tsocowis Beach Campsite - West Coast Trail Campsites

Tsocowis Creek - West Coast Trail CampsitesTsocowis Creek - West Coast Trail Campsites

23km Klanawa River Campsite(excellent)


Beautiful beach and a wonderfully huge river, the Klanawa River campground is fantastic.  And because it is close to the super popular Tsusiat Falls campground it is often quiet and serene.  Also, the main trail runs to the cable car crossing which diverts the crowds away.  Has outhouse.

Klanawa River Camp - West Coast Trail Campsites

Klanawa River - West Coast Trail CampsitesKlanawa River - West Coast Trail Campsites

25km Tsusiat Falls Campsite(excellent)


The spectacular Tsusiat Falls is a great and large campsite.  A bit too large though.  As everyone has seen pictures of it, everyone aims for it to spend the night.  If you don't mind crowds then you'll love it.  Love waking up to whales in the distance and the beautiful roar of the falls.  It is well designed for crowds though as the hundreds of driftwood logs on the beach have fashioned partitioned areas all over the beach, where some sort of organized privacy exists.  Has an outhouse, but hard to find and inconvenient to get to.

Tsusiat Falls Camp at Dawn - West Coast Trail Campsites

Tsusiat Falls Beach - West Coast Trail CampsitesTsusiat Falls - West Coast Trail Campsites

42km Cribs Creek Campsite(mediocre)


Cribs Creek is a beautiful, clean, emerald coloured creek that flows through the campground.  That's about the only nice part about the campsite.  The beach is not great, it smells of rotting seaweed and the campsite is always crowded and not very inviting to spend the night.  Has outhouse.

Cribs Creek - West Coast Trail Campsites

46km Carmanah Creek Campsite(excellent)


The breathtaking and massive Carmanah Creek slowly flows through this wonderfully massive and beautiful beach.  Plenty of room for plenty of tents.  This is one of the beaches that makes you drop your pack, sit on the warm sand and gaze out at the ocean dumbfounded for minutes at a time.  The West Coast Trail is something special.  Has outhouse.

Carmanah Creek - West Coast Trail Campsites

Carmanah Creek Crossing - West Coast Trail CampsitesCarmanah Creek Tent - West Coast Trail Campsites

48km Bonilla Creek Campsite(excellent)


Bonilla Creek campsite is relatively large and spread out with two wonderful characteristics.  One is that the forested area just off the beach has some great areas to pitch a tent under some shelter of trees.  Great in times of rain.  The second is the wonderful Bonilla Falls.  Small and wonderfully secluded feeling.  The creek is shallow and pretty.  You often find standing frames erected for shelter(if you have a tarp).  Great in times of wet weather.  The sunsets from this campsite are often extraordinarily colourful.

Bonilla Creek Camp - West Coast Trail Campsites

Bonilla Falls - West Coast Trail CampsitesBonilla Falls Camp - West Coast Trail Campsites

53km Walbran Creek Campsite(excellent)


The Walbran Creek Campsite has lots of campsite room, beautiful and is always less busy than Cullite Cove. Swimming is amazing just steps from your tent.

Walbran Creek - West Coast Trail Campsites

58km Cullite Cove Campsite(excellent)


Cullite Cove is a close to perfect as a campsite can get.  Cullite Creek is beautiful, crystal clear green, big and slow moving into Cullite Cove, a picture perfect beach hemmed in by majestic cliffs on both sides.  Just off the beach, several campsites are laid out, hidden in the trees.  Your first thought on seeing this site is to want to stay for a week.  Has outhouse.

Cullite Cove - West Coast Trail Campsites

Cullite Cove - West Coast Trail CampsitesCullite Cove - West Coast Trail Campsites

62km Camper Creek Campsite(good)


Camper Creek is beautiful, similar to Cullilte Cove there are cliffs on either side.  The downside is crowding.  It's the first really good campsite from the Port Renfrew direction.  Still, it's spacious.  Another downside is the proximity of Port Renfrew.  It's hard to get the wilderness feeling when you can see boats pass every minute and cruise ships in the distance.  Has outhouse.

Camper Creek - West Coast Trail Campsites

70km Thrasher Cove Campsite(poor)


Thrasher Cove is just 5 kilometres from the Port Renfrew trailhead, however it is a mostly difficult, 5k jungle trek.  Because of this, you often find the campsite a bit crowded.  The campsite is small compared to other campsites, as the beach is small and backs on to a sharply ascending jungle.

Thrasher Cove - West Coast Trail Campsites

Thrasher Cove - West Coast Trail CampsitesThrasher Cove - West Coast Trail Campsites

WCT Maps and Trail Pictures>>

Aerial Views of BC Hiking Destinations


Meager Slide Aerial VideoPanorama Ridge Aerial Video 3Panorama Ridge Aerial Video 2

Cirque Lake Aerial Video

Panorama Ridge Aerial Video 4Adit Lakes & Russet Lake Aerial VideoPanorama Ridge Aerial Video 1

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