Hiking on Vancouver Island
Some of the best hiking anywhere in the world is found on and around Vancouver Island.
In 2007, Travel & Leisure magazine ranked it as one of the world's ten best islands, thanks in no small part to its spectacular scenery and fantastic hiking trails.
The landscapes are varied and beautiful, with sandy beaches, temperate rainforest, caves, waterfalls and rugged mountains. The trails here range from easy one-hour strolls to grinding seven-day treks.
West Coast Trail and Coastline Hikes
Avid hikers and explorers will be happy to know that Vancouver Island's Pacific coastline is well served by wilderness trails.
British Columbia's most renowned trail is the West Coast Trail , situated in Pacific Rim National Park Reserve on the southwest coast. Considered by some to be the toughest trek in North America, the trail traverses 75km/47mi of wild and remote coastal areas, cedar, hemlock and spruce forests, cliffs, beaches, sandstone ledges and suspension bridges spanning rivers and streams. It's pure wilderness all the way, so hikers must be fit and well equipped for the backcountry.
Further south, the 47km/29 mi Juan de Fuca Marine Trail boasts scenery similar to the West Coast Trail, but with several vehicle accessible points en route, making it a favourite for novices and day hikers.
On the northern tip of Vancouver Island, the jagged headlands and windswept setting of Cape Scott Provincial Park will have you feeling like you've reached the edge of the earth.
Alpine Hikes on Vancouver Island
The Insular Mountains of Vancouver Island stretch along the entire length of its interior, reaching heights of more than 2,000m/6,562 ft.
Strathcona Provincial Park, near Comox and Campbell River , is BC's oldest provincial park, and is dominated by snowcapped peaks, alpine meadows and tarns – as well as Canada's highest waterfall. Trails here cater to all ability levels.
Also near Comox, Mount Washington Alpine Resort has chairlift-accessed hiking, complete with panoramic views of Strathcona Park, the Comox Glacier, Mt. Arrowsmith, and the Strait of Georgia.
Wildlife on the Hiking Trails
On the coast, keep watch for whales , sea lions, otters, and harbour seals as well as tidal pool inhabitants such as red, purple and orange starfish, sea urchins, blue mussels, green sea anemones and sea cucumbers. Up in the mountains, you might sight elk, black tailed deer, squirrels and marmot. Bears, cougars and wolves may be present in any part of the island.
Getting to the Trails
While having a car will give hikers access to a larger number of trails, coach buses service a variety of Vancouver Island parks and communities, including Tofino and Ucluelet on the west coast.
Shuttle services are available to transport hikers to and from the trailheads of the West Coast and Juan de Fuca trails from either Nanaimo or Victoria . This option is actually more convenient than taking your car.
(Source: Tourism BC)