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West Coast Trail Day 3

Vancouver Island

A long day with beautiful beaches and the opportunity to get some awesome food at the Crab shack.

Hiking Moderate

17 km
319 m
344 m
3-4 hrs
Low Point
-1 m
High Point
50 m
West Coast Trail Day 3 Map

Day 3 on the West Coast Trail (WCT), is arguably the most scenic day on the trail. It is a long day, but well broken up with plenty of places to stop along the way.


Ideally you want to time your departure from Tsusiat falls to hit low tide, as there is a tidal cut off point a few kilometres from the campground. You don't want to cut this one close, or you will very likely end up with wet feet. If you do get there too late, there is an short inland trail at the headland you can take to cut across to the next beach.

The beaches on the first part of this trail make for really great hiking, they are relatively flat and easy to walk on, so you can relax and enjoy the scenery as you hike along the beautiful coastline.

You will eventually leave the beach to head inland to take the ferry at the Nitinat River. When heading South, you have to signal for the ferry. They have a very high tech, tried and tested method for doing this... You just shout across as loud as you can and listen for a reply!

The ferry takes you over the river and drops you off at the Crab Shack. This is a real luxury considering you are in the middle of a week long backcountry trip. They serve really good food, and even have cold beer available, so this makes for an fantastic lunch spot.

The inland trail leading to and from the Nitinat river has lots of boardwalks, they vary in the condition, but they are all extremely slippery. It may sound bizarre to bring micro spikes on a trail with no snow, but I'd highly recommend brining small micro spikes for the boardwalks.

After a good lunch and a well maintained inland section, you will return to the coastline at Cheewat beach. The beach here is spectacular, this is seriously one of the best beaches on the Island, and since you are in the backcountry, there will most likely be hardly anyone else on it.

It's mainly all beach hiking for the rest of the trail to Cribs Creek, you get great views all along the coast and walk along a number of pristine beaches . The final headland before Cribs creek does have a tidal cut off, if you don't think you will make it then take the inland trail, as if you get cut off here, you will have to backtrack a few kilometres to join the inland trail.

The Cribs Creek campground is a great beach campsite, you can camp on either side of the creek, although the bear lockers and washrooms are on the Western side, so this tends to be the most popular area.



Hiking along trails with some uneven terrain and small hills. Small rocks and roots may be present.

Medium Exposure

2 out of 4

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


2 out of 4

Away from help but easily accessed.

Best time to visit

between May and September


  • Wildlife
  • Historical
  • Picturesque
  • Family friendly
  • Forestry or heavy vegetation

Similar routes nearby

Guidebooks in this area