Top 5 Hiking Trails on Vancouver Island

Share  Facebook Twitter

Vancouver Island, with its varied landscapes and stunning natural scenery, is a fantastic hiking destination. No matter what you’re looking for – sandy beaches that stretch for kilometres, lush temperate rainforests, dramatic mountain peaks, bucolic countryside or rugged rocky shorelines – Vancouver Island has got you covered. And whether you opt to spend a leisurely hour or an intense week exploring this spectacular island, chances are good that you’ll encounter some local wildlife along the way.

We asked our Facebook fans to recommend their favourite hiking trails on Vancouver Island, and below are their top five choices:

5. Mount Douglas Park

Sunlight beaming through the trees at Mount Douglas Park in Victoria.

Sunlight beaming through the trees at Mount Douglas Park in Victoria. Photo: @melissajacquelyn via Instagram

In the number five spot is Mount Douglas Park, located 20 minutes northeast of downtown Victoria. Hike up to the summit for gorgeous 360-degree views of the surrounding area, or follow a trail to a sandy beach on the shores of scenic Cordova Bay. The park boasts thick forests, lots of ferns, wildflowers (see these in the spring), a Garry Oak meadow, and abundant bird life. Several trails offer excellent viewpoints, and the Munson Trail takes you past the remnants of an old mine.

4. Cape Scott Trail

A small trail winds through a lush forest.

The lush green forest of the Cape Scott Trail. Photo: @tomparkr via Instagram

Cape Scott Trail, located on the northwest tip of the island, comes in at number four. This challenging 48-km (30-mi) return-trip trail follows the route of an old telegraph line to the Cape Scott Lighthouse. Hike through old-growth Sitka spruce forests past rocky promontories, salt marshes, jagged headlands and white sand beaches that punctuate the coastline. See the remains of 19th-century Danish settlements along the way, and keep an eye out for sea birds, seals, sea lions and sea otters.

3. Juan de Fuca Marine Trail

A hiker stops to take in the view of the Pacific Ocean along the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail.

Wide open views of the Pacific Ocean along the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail. Photo: Leah Adams-Chute

Our fans’ third choice is the remote Juan de Fuca Marine trail, which stretches 47 km (29 mi) along the west coast of Vancouver Island from China Beach to Botanical Beach. This extraordinarily beautiful trail features spectacular ocean and mountain views, waterfalls, grottos, old-growth forests, curious rock formations and estuaries, and there are many opportunities to see a wealth of intertidal life at close range. The trail is accessible by car from several points along Highway 14, so it is easy to hike just a small section of the trail.

2. Wild Pacific Trail

A woman stops to look at her reflection in a tidal pool.

Exploring tidal pools in Ucluelet. Photo: Rachel Rilkoff

In at number two is the spectacularly scenic Wild Pacific Trail in Ucluelet, with its three distinct sections. The Lighthouse Loop is a 2.6-km (1.6-mi) trail that passes by an old lighthouse. Another, more challenging section of the trail runs one way along the edge of dramatic rocky cliffs, offering fantastic views of the powerful Pacific Ocean pounding the shore. The final section of the trail includes a short loop through an old-growth forest of Sitka spruce, western hemlock and giant red cedars, some estimated to be more than 800 years old. There is also a section of trail along the wild, rocky bluffs that is ideal for storm watching.

1. West Coast Trail

A hiker walks along a rugged beach on an overcast day.

The rugged beach along the West Coast Trail. Photo: Carolyn Ibis

And our Facebook fans’ most highly recommended Vancouver Island hike is the incomparable

West Coast Trail. This world-renowned trek, located on the island’s rugged west coast, is considered by some to be the most challenging in North America. It traverses 75 km (47 mi) of wild and remote coastal areas, cedar, hemlock and spruce forests, cliffs, beaches, sandstone ledges and suspension bridges spanning rivers and streams. It’s pure wilderness all the way, so hikers must be fit and well equipped for the backcountry. Make reservations for this very popular hike, as there are a limited number of spaces available each day.

Did we miss one of your favourite Vancouver Island hikes? Tell us about it in the comments below.