"Kelp Nissen Bight" by Clayoquot - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Kelp_Nissen_Bight.JPG#/media/File:Kelp_Nissen_Bight.JPG
Credit: "Kelp Nissen Bight" by Clayoquot - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Kelp_Nissen_Bight.JPG#/media/File:Kelp_Nissen_Bight.JPG

Vancouver Island is home to some of the most spectacular hiking trails in Canada. Here are 7 you don't want to miss:

The world's best-known coastal hike is on Vancouver Island—the West Coast Trail. Yet it is not the only spectacular hike along the Pacific.

Dozens of hikes, of all lengths, from short strolls to multi-day epics, can be found here and all are a great way of experiencing the ocean without the logistics of actually getting on salt water. In other words, if you're coming to Vancouver Island pack your hiking boots.

Helliwell Bluffs

https://www.flickr.com/photos/hgreenwood/https://www.flickr.com/photos/hgreenwood/One of the nicest hikes on the coast, this little beauty loops through old growth Douglas fir to a cliffside romp above the Strait of Georgia. Find the trailhead by taking two ferries from Vancouver Island first to Denman and then Hornby Island and then driving or cycling to Helliwell Provincial Park at the southwest side. The popular five-kilometre trail circles Saint John's Point with excellent views of the ocean. Watch for sea lions on the offshore rocks and fields of wildflowers in April and May. Cool off afterwards with a swim at Tribune Bay, a white sand beach nearby.

Wild Pacific Trail

https://www.flickr.com/photos/45553853@N04/https://www.flickr.com/photos/45553853@N04/Right through the town of Ucluelet, just down the road from Tofino. This is a spectacular trail, especially when the Pacific storms are brewing. Broken into three sections, it can be hiked as one or broken into pieces. The best bet is the Lighthouse Loop, a 2.5-km trail that circumnavigates a point jutting into the Pacific. Here the full force of ocean swells slams into rocks. You can feel the vibration from hundreds of feet away. This is a good place to see whales in March and October. A quieter and wilder feeling section, Browns Beach, begins next to the Black Rock Resort following the coastline north to a parking lot on the highway. The trail dips and climbs following old growth rainforest, coves and cliffsides to treehouse style viewpoints and airy vistas looking out onto the open Pacific.

Juan de Fuca Trail

https://www.flickr.com/photos/yukoners_are_cool/https://www.flickr.com/photos/yukoners_are_cool/ While known as a 49-kilometre backpacking route, the Juan de Fuca is better appreciated as four day hikes, especially if you can easily set up car shuttles. The trail follows a highway the whole way and isn't as good as the nearby West Coast Trail. Plus there are four access points, perfect for breaking it up into day trips. The coastline is fantastic. Botanical Beach is the highlight.

Ripple Rock Trail

https://www.flickr.com/photos/sharigreen/https://www.flickr.com/photos/sharigreen/Ripple Rock, a twin topped mountain just below the ocean surface of Seymour Narrows, created "one of vilest stretches of water in the world" according to explorer George Vancouver before it was blown up in 1958 by the largest peacetime explosion. An interpretive trail now traverses bluffy benches out to a viewpoint above the chokepoint of Vancouver Island's inside passage north of Campbell River. Alternating between varied forest and views of the snaking waterways and distant mountains, the story of Ripple Rock adds one more reason to visit this worthwhile and scenic trail. Before or after visit the museum in Campbell River to watch the dramatic movie of the explosion.

Overnight Hikes:

North Coast Trail

https://www.flickr.com/photos/pictiurfear/https://www.flickr.com/photos/pictiurfear/

The newest coastal backpacking route on Vancouver Island this 46-kilometre hike includes plenty of elevation gain, beach walking and mud. It links the Cape Scott hike, a path to the northern tip of the island with bays and beaches to the east. A water taxi is needed to access the east end.

Nootka Trail

https://www.flickr.com/photos/mgabelmann/https://www.flickr.com/photos/mgabelmann/ A worthy successor to the West Coast Trail the Nootka Trail takes more effort and money to reach, but offers solitude and wildlife its peers can't match. Though only 30 kilometres from a float plane drop off at Louis Bay to the lighthouse and small village at Yuquot, it takes most parties five to six days to hike the whole trail. This is one of the best spots to find Japanese glass fishing floats, the ultimate beach booty, on the west coast.

Ahousat Wild Side Trail

https://www.flickr.com/photos/37457628@N00/https://www.flickr.com/photos/37457628@N00/This 32 km, out and back, three-day rainforest and beach hike requires a short water taxi from Tofino to the community of Ahousat in Clayoquat Sound. From there it's through old growth Sitka spruce to and along beaches to Cow Bay. This is a rarely traveled route today but at one time was the daily commute for the First Nation people.

Plan your next great adventure with explore!
Off the beaten path locations, tips and tricks, interviews with intrepid explorers and more.