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7 Epic Canadian West Coast hiking trails to explore

No matter where the trail takes you, Canada’s West Coast is a treasure trove for nature lovers. From awe-inspiring landscapes, lush rainforests and rugged mountains to breathtaking coastal views, it is a bucket-list destination for hikers worldwide.   

Ready for an unforgettable adventure? Here are seven West Coast hiking trails to explore. 

West Coast Trail, British Columbia

ChristiLaLiberte | iStock

Known as one of the world’s top hiking destinations, the West Coast Trail is an iconic 75-kilometre trek that winds through Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. This challenging multi-day hike offers a thrilling combination of rainforests, beaches, sea cliffs, and waterfalls. Along the way, hikers can spot diverse wildlife and historic shipwrecks along with the serene coastal wilderness. Preparedness is key, as this backcountry trail will have you climbing more than 100 ladders and wading through mountain-fed rivers. There is no shortage of adventure.   

Juan de Fuca Marine Trail, British Columbia

A young blonde woman swings on a rope swing at the scenic Mystic Beach located along the shores of the Strait of Juan de Fuca on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, pacific northwest Canada.
Stephen | iStock

Located on the southern coast of Vancouver Island, the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail stretches for 47 kilometres and offers an unforgettable coastal experience within the provincial park. This moderate to challenging hike meanders through old-growth forests, windswept beaches, and rocky headlands. There are four trailheads where you can begin a day trip or multi-day hike. With numerous campsites and stunning viewpoints, hikers can immerse themselves in the untamed beauty of the Pacific coastline. 

Garibaldi Lake, British Columbia

Idyllic landscape of Garibaldi lakes
Jeff | Adobe Stock

Nestled in Garibaldi Provincial Park, the Garibaldi Lake hike is a favourite amongst locals and visitors alike. The trail covers approximately 18 kilometres round trip and rewards hikers with awe-inspiring vistas of turquoise waters nestled between towering glaciers and snow-capped peaks. This moderately challenging hike is a gem, offering breathtaking scenery at every turn. Once you reach a trail junction around the sixkilometre mark, you can turn right directly to the enchanting lake scene or leave through a meadow of wildflowers before looping around to the lake. 

Crypt Lake Trail, Alberta

Chris Babcock | iStock

Tucked away in Waterton Lakes National Park, the Crypt Lake Trail is a thrilling and adventurous hike that rewards intrepid explorers with incredible vistas. Accessible only by boat (a 15-minute taxi from Waterton’s dock), this 17-kilometre trail takes you through dense forests, sheer cliffs, and even a natural tunnel. After passing multiple waterfalls, a steel ladder will lead you through a cave to a lake within the mountains. Keep your eyes peeled for wildlife – you may catch sight of a mountain goat.

Sunshine Coast Trail, British Columbia

Path in the Green Rain Forest during a summer day
edb3_16 | Adobe Stock

Stretching across 180 kilometres of rugged terrain, the Sunshine Coast Trail is Canada’s longest hut-to-hut hiking trail (a multi-day hike where you can overnight in mountain huts). The route showcases British Columbia’s natural beauty as you traverse through dense forests, alpine meadows, and pristine lakes. Hikers can enjoy a variety of trail sections ranging from easy day hikes to multi-day adventures, all while relishing the tranquility of this remote wilderness. There are a few family-friendly sections, but if you plan to finish the collective length, be prepared for a challenge.  

Berg Lake Trail, British Columbia

A man stand before Emperor Falls and Mount Robson, Emperor Ridge along Berg Lake Hiking Trail in Canadian Rocky Mountains. Beautiful landscape background concept
Michal | Adobe Stock

Nestled in the heart of the Canadian Rockies, the Berg Lake Trail in Mount Robson Provincial Park is a bucket-list hike for outdoor enthusiasts. This challenging 23-kilometre trail gives hikers unparalleled views of glaciers, waterfalls, and Mount Robson, the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies. The alpine scenery and the turquoise waters of Berg Lake make this hike an unforgettable experience. Before you depart check trail conditions online. 

Plain of Six Glaciers, Alberta

View of Lake Louise from the Plain of Six Glaciers Trail in Banff National Park, Canada.
Janice Chen | Adobe Stock

Have you ever wondered what magic awaits beyond the iconic view of Banff’s Lake Louise? The Plain of Six Glaciers hike worth a trip, to see some massive glaciers up close. The trail is a moderately challenging trek, which you can connect to the Lake Agnes Trail via Highline Trail to create a 14.6-kilometre loop. If you forget to pack lunch, at the 5.5-kilometre mark on the hike, you’ll stumble up the historic Plain of Six Glaciers Teahouse. The seasonal teahouse serves lunch and treats, and cash payment is preferred.

Safety first

While the West Coast hiking trails are a natural paradise, they can lead deep into the wilderness, so go prepared. Situations from bear sightings to tidal currents and steep, slippery rocks may cross your path. Pack the right gear, have a map of the trail and be aware of what wildlife you may encounter to ensure your safety as you explore the great outdoors.

Ready to hike the West Coast?

Book an appointment with a CAA Travel Consultant or call 1-800-705-1803 to start planning your Canadian adventure.  

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