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Day 1 North Coast Trail

Vancouver Island

An extremely difficult start, but well worth the effort as you begin one of the best coastal trails in Canada.

Hiking Severe

9 km
341 m
361 m
2-3 hrs
Low Point
1 m
High Point
240 m
Day 1 North Coast Trail Map

Day 1 on the North Coast trail is a difficult one. You start the day by enjoying the water taxi from Port Hardy to the trailhead at Shushartie Bay - this is a great trip in itself, with the opportunity to see plenty of wildlife whilst on the boat.


Once you arrive at the trailhead though, the hard work begins. This overland section is the most difficult on the entire trail, expect this to take 4-6 hours depending on the conditions. There are sections through here where you will be down to 1km per hour.

Once you leave the water taxi here you are totally on your own. The only people you are likely to encounter before you reach the campground are the people who you got the boat with. So take care through this section as there are plenty of places to trip or fall.

After you have hiked the first few KMs you will have gained most of the elevation, which you would think makes the trail easier. That isn't true here though, there's enough mud to make sure you still have quite the workout getting through this middle section, it's basically a swamp if you go after heavy rain.

Even though the trail here is extremely difficult, this is part of the charm of the North Coast Trail. The fact that this is a difficult trail is one of the draws to come here. If you are looking for a proper wilderness adventure, then this is the trail for you.

After many hours of hiking through the old-growth forest, you will eventually reach Skinner Creek Campground. This is the time to set up camp and reflect on the first day on the trail. The good news is you have done the hardest part of the trial, you can now sit back and enjoy the evening watching the first of many spectacular sunsets.

Water is very limited along the entire North coast trail. There is no water at the trailhead, so you need to carry in enough water to get you to Skinner Creek. If you plan on doing this trail in reverse and camping at Shushartie Bay, you'll need to carry all the water you'll need for the trail and for camp from Skinner Creek.



Hiking challenging trails where simple scrambling, with the occasional use of the hands, is a distinct possibility. The trails are often filled with all manner of obstacles both small and large, and the hills are very steep. Obstacles and challenges are often unexpected and can be unpredictable.

Medium Exposure

2 out of 4

The trail contains some obstacles such as outcroppings and rock which could cause injury.


4 out of 4

In the high mountains or remote conditions, all individuals must be completely autonomous in every situation.

Best time to visit

between May and October


  • Wildlife
  • Water features
  • Forestry or heavy vegetation

Similar routes nearby

Guidebooks in this area