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5 of British Columbia's Best Backpacking Routes

From temperate rainforests to sprawling beaches, alpine meadows, and glacial vistas - British Columbia has it all!

Hiking, Trail Running Moderate, Difficult, Extreme

North Coast Trail


While there are numerous overnight trips in southern BC, multi-day backpacking routes are less common. The few located in these parts are all spectacular. Each route has its own charm, whether it's the beach-side camping of the coast trails, or the incredible alpine meadows of the mountain trails. This list contains 5 of the finest BC trails and looks at what makes them great.

Garibaldi Provincial Park is home to one of the most popular trails in BC. This point to point hike passes the namesake lake and down towards Whistler. Along the way there are ample opportunities for side trips to Panorama Ridge, and the Black Tusk. The breathtaking meadows, and turquoise lake ringed by glacial peaks justifies the very busy trail.

The West Coast Trail is possibly the best known route in BC. The route follows a trail built to aid stranded mariners along the coastline, but takes time to wander along stunning beaches. The campsites right on the ocean will provide memories to last a lifetime, and even in the damp the rainforest reveals its unique beauty. Reservations are necessary so this is a good one to book in advance.

The Howe Sound Crest trail meanders along the often-precarious ridgeline above the Howe Sound. The views are constant, and the route involves plenty of interesting scrambling. Pack light as the route is short, but involves a lot of climbing up and down. This route also is open to wild camping, which means everyone needs to be on their best Leave No Trace behaviour lest we lose this privilege.

Often overlooked in favour of its southern sister, the North Coast Trail is quieter, but equally scenic. The route involves a good deal of logistics as a water taxi is required to access the trailhead. This ensures that there are fewer people, spaced out generously along numerous beachside campsites. The route is rough, and less well maintained than the West Coast Trail, providing a wilder and more challenging experience.

The Tenquille Owl Traverse is not a classic, but it should be. A recently developed route, it lacks a proper trail in many places, so this is only for those with strong navigational abilities. Physically the route is challenging, with some scrambling required through boulder fields and talus. Passing these challenges leads to stunning alpine meadows and a hiking experience that has become so rare. As this route gains popularity it will certainly be considered a classic.

Time to get hiking!

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