Can I bring my dog?
No, they've not been allowed since 1991. Authorities feel they are too disruptive of wildlife. If you really want to hike with your dog, consider the Juan de Fuca Trail which allows leashed dogs. The Nootka Trail is another coastal hike you can do with your dog.
Wardens told us that in the old days (when dogs were allowed) many were injured. They had to be evacuated or carried out by their owners.
Should I hike the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail instead?
Thats the short answer. Juan de Fuca is a more accessible & better option for most hikers. No reservation or registration is needed. Hike when & where you want.
The West Coast Trail is designed for hiking fanatics. It is kept as inaccessible & undeveloped as possible. We like it that way.
The WCT is longer, tougher & better than the Juan de Fuca. Hike the West Coast Trail if you are able -- but it is much easier to organise Juan de Fuca.
The Juan de Fuca is a less demanding hike (despite what you may hear elsewhere) but you will still get wet, muddy, sore, & exhausted. If the West Coast Trail did not exist, some would be claiming that the Juan de Fuca is the best hike in Canada.
Should I hike the Nootka Trail instead?
No. Up to 8000 people hike the West Coast Trail each year; only about 300 hiked the Nootka in 2001. The Nootka is a remote, dangerous bushwhack. Evacuation in case of injury or illness can be difficult.
Of course if this appeals to you ... check out the Nootka Trail.
When should I hike the West Coast Trail?
The WCT is open May 1 to September 30. Late July to mid-September usually offers the best weather. It's very easy to get on the Trail until the middle of June.
Should I hike off-season?
Off-season hiking is possible, but dangerous. We dont recommend it.
During the winter you are guaranteed heavy rain, high tides, big waves, & bone-chilling winds. Storms could confine you to your tent. Days are short at this latitude. The trail is neither maintained nor patrolled.
Locals tell tales of winter hikers dragging themselves off the WCT soaked & hypothermic. Not once have we heard of anyone who enjoyed the trip in midwinter.
There are no regular winter water taxi services at either Nitinat Narrows or Gordon River crossing. Youd need to somehow arrange those boats yourself.