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Day 5 North Coast Trail

Vancouver Island

A technical and difficult inland section with a picturesque lake that makes it all worth it.

Hiking Difficult

7.1 km
136 m
147 m
1-2 hrs
Low Point
0 m
High Point
73 m
Day 5 North Coast Trail Map

This is a very difficult section of trail that is very technical in places, extremely muddy and can be flooded if hiking after heavy rain.


The first half of the trail is actually quite a nice trail to hike. It does have all the elevation, but it winds through a lush green forest on a relatively well maintained trail and the elevation is gradual.

It is still a difficult section though, there are lot's of trees to go over and around, flooded sections of trail that may have tree stumps or boardwalks as options to stay out the mud, however; I'd avoid using these as much as possible. My best advice for this section of trail, is to avoid stepping on anything wooden, which is difficult considering it's a rain forest.

All the boardwalks and tree roots here are extremely slippery, especially the tree stumps. Unfortunately there are lots of obstacles to go around and the easiest way is to step on these wooden features, which is what makes this trail so difficult and technical.

Once you make it to the lake you get some relief as the trail levels out and becomes a little easier. The boardwalks here are easier to walk on and not as slick as they get more sunlight. The views of the lake are spectacular, it's such a beautiful place. The trees here are totally different to elsewhere on trail and it will feel like you have been transported somewhere else as you head over the top of the hill on the well maintained boardwalks.

The descent down to Nissen Bright is a difficult one, but thankfully you will be going downhill which makes it substantially easier. The trail is very narrow in places, with plenty of mud and obstacles to go around, which makes it slow going. If you happen to be hiking this in the other direction, expect to be down to 1kph when heading up this section.

When you arrive at the beach, you have the choice which side to camp on. The east side is flatter and closer to the water source, the west side has a much nicer beach but is far from a water source, so fill up before you head over to camp.

Nissen Bright is generally busier than the other campgrounds as people add this onto the Cape Scott Trail. This is a really awesome campground though, it has a nice sandy beach and is the best place to do some whale watching. Wolves also use this beach, if it's quite you may well see one at night or early in the morning.



Hiking trails where obstacles such as rocks or roots are prevalent. Some obstacles can require care to step over or around. At times, the trail can be worn and eroded. The grade of the trail is generally quite steep, and can often lead to strenuous hiking.

Medium Exposure

2 out of 4

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


3 out of 4

Little chance of being seen or helped in case of an accident.

Best time to visit

between May and October


  • Wildlife
  • Picturesque
  • Forestry or heavy vegetation

Similar routes nearby

Guidebooks in this area