3 - 4
FATMAP difficulty grade
This is the start of a week long trip down the world famous West Coast Trail (WCT).
As this is a through hike, you need to arrange transport to and from the trailhead.
The WCT bus can pick you up from the southern trailhead in Port Renfrew and drops you off at Pachena Bay.
This is the preferred method for most people, as the paid parking in Port Renfrew is generally a safer place to leave your car and the bus leaves at 9am, so you will have to stay in Port Renfrew for a night if you get the bus at the end of your hike.
You do need to have a reservation for the bus, so book before you start your trip.
The first day on trail can either be a nice easy day hiking on a very well maintained trail, or it can be a slightly more challenging introduction to what you have to come over the next few days.
This all depends on if you are able to take the coastal option at the start or have to take the inland route.
The inland route is much slower and more difficult, you get an immediate introduction to the ladders with which you will become very familiar with over the coming days.
For that reason, if the tides allow, the coastal route is the best way to go, as is generally always the case on the entire WCT.
If the tide allows you to take the beach route, don't forget to look back, as you get a great view of Pachena Bay as you make your way along the short coastal route.
This is the first of many great beaches you will encounter over the next 7 days.
The inland trail for the majority of this section is a very easy and well maintained, this allows you to take your time and really enjoy your first day on the trail.
Just past KM 9 you will start to hear the Sea Lions on the nearby haul out rock, there is a short out and back trail that takes you to a good viewpoint to see them on the rocks, be sure not to miss it, as it's well worth the quick side trip.
After a few hours on the inland trail you will arrive back at the beach, from here it's just a short hike to the Darling river campground.
This is another place for potential wildlife sightings, as black bears have been seen around this area, although sightings are generally rare in peak season, as the number of people on trail is enough to scare them off.
There is no bridge over the Darling river, depending on how high the tide is, you may have to go slightly upstream to find a more suitable place to cross it.
Once camp is set up, it's well worth staying up to watch the sunset if you have good weather, you get some pretty awesome sunsets all along the WCT.