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Submitted by on Jan 27, 2020
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Canada is known for its wilderness, so it is natural to be talking about Canadian hikes. The West Coast offers some outstanding hikes that are beautiful, unique, and challenging. Great coastal hikes present rugged challenge, awesome views, wilderness travel, beach camping, and unique ecosystems. These three hikes give all this and more.

Hiking in Canada is a right of passage for young people, especially in western Canada. There are so many destinations that it is hard to choose which hike to go on. From mountains, to tundra, to coastal rainforest, Canadian hiking is diverse, challenging, and truly just incredible. From the southern Canadian Rockies all the way to the west coast, British Columbia geography is so varied that a lifetime could be spent exploring. The west coast itself offers hikes that go through multiple ecosystems and multitudes of terrains. Three particular coastal hikes in BC offer unique views into the varied climates between southern and northern Vancouver Island.

On Vancouver Island, the south, west, and north coasts are very sparsely populated. There are a number of villages and small towns in the inlets, servicing mostly the fishing and logging industries. On the outer coast, between these towns, are beaches and headlands that meet the mighty Pacific Ocean. Most of this incredible terrain is known only by a small few, but that is changing, especially since Tofino has become the surfing capital of Canada. The beaches near Tofino are long and sandy, with surf coming in from the Pacific regularly. But this is only a small dot on a lengthy coastline. A few places have opened up for travelers. In particular, there are five main trails where people go for hiking adventures along the west coast, but only the first three are easily accessible.

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Why Go Hiking?

One of the main reasons to hike is that it is the only way to get somewhere. On the coast, boats can take you in, but you miss the in-between. Boats are subject to weather. There are days on the west coast that it is just not safe to travel by boat. Next to nothing stops you from hiking. And the real reason to hike is that it is the best way to really get an intimate experience of a place that is remote. The in-between is the goal, and the journey is that in-between. On these coastal hikes you start at one end and finish at another, so you are traversing an area. Each day and each step is new. Just around the point is a new beach and a new vista. Hiking is an inward experience in an outwardly demanding place. Okay, it’s kind of a zen thing, but if you have done it, you understand.

Why Hike On The Coast?

Boundaries are always the most interesting. Hikes in the mountains are at the boundary between the land and the sky and the views are over it all. On the coast, it is the boundary between land and vast water, and the views are up and down that boundary along the coast. The coast is always changing. Each day the tidal movement of the water brings it up and takes it down, as if the shore were breathing it in and out. The seasons bring massive changes to the beaches and headlands as the storm forces reshape these places each winter. And the weather is, well, the most fickle of all. Rain, sun, wind, hail, even snow can all happen in a single day. Since we can hike in any of these conditions, we go right ahead and keep on travelling. It is just a part of the great experience.

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