There are five beaches that I find unforgettable along the West Coast Trail. These beaches have some remarkable feature that adds a special experience to the camping on this amazing backpacking adventure. The West Coast Trail has become a defining experience for British Columbia’s outdoor folk who ever strive for new adventures to fill the need to commune with the wild and powerful part of their province. The wildness of Camper Bay, Walbran Creek, Dare Beach, Klanawa River, and Tsusiat Falls have made an indelible mark on my psyche,
The campsite at Camper Bay is just behind a large gravel bar that serves as the beach at the outlet of Camper Creek. In the forest at this site, the Quu’as First Nation Trailkeepers have a cabin. Contact with these guardians is highly probable here. The main beach campsite here is protected from the roar of the waves by the gravel bar. Camping is also available on the bar, but it is a bit more difficult to find a flat spot to tent on. The sand and cobble area up near the forest edge is bounded by a vertical cliff and a steep forest edge next to the creek. This is a calm and peaceful campsite, a place for rest along the trail. Hikers from the East encounter this camp after making the way around Owen Point.
Walbran Creek also has a large gravel bar at the end of a creek. Here, the creek is dammed up into a small lake, good for swimming, and there is a long, beautiful beach at the end of the creek. This is an open, spread out beach with lots of logs and driftwood. It is a classic west coast beach. Although there is a cable car across the wide creek/lake, it is usually possible to wade across Walbran Creek near the tide line. Camping in and among the logs makes for cozy camping, sheltered from ocean breeze.
Dare Beach is a long sand beach with surf crashing up along most of its length. It is an awesome beach that surfers would love to visit. On one of my trips I passed a surfer/hiker who was carrying his surfboard with him-not an easy task-on the way to this beach. Although I never heard from him again, I can’t help but imagine that he had some fantastic rides. Dare Beach is not a usual camp site, but it is worth spending a couple of hours just soaking in the waves and sheer presence of the mighty Pacific here.
The beach at Klanawa River also has an extensive log jam and dammed creek, making a nice swimming hole. This beach is less used than most, so it gives a more solitary feel. There are a couple of larger clearings in the forest available for those who want some protection from the wind and surf sound of the waves. The logs at the point that closes off the creek are formed into a natural camping area. A few extra logs have made it into a sheltered structure, big enough for a tent and a campfire.
The beach at Tsusiat Falls is a long and popular camping area. The pool at the bottom of the falls is a good swimming hole. The falls are available for a cool, clean shower if you can stay under the water. Camping stretches out along the beach for quite a long way. Some sites are under a cliff, so some caution is necessary. There is plenty of space for a large number of hikers at this beach. The trail away from the beach up onto the forest trail is steep and short. The view from the bridge above at Tsusiat Creek is another remarkable view, as the water just disappears over an edge of sky and sea.
There are other beaches of note on the trail, but I found these the most memorable. No matter where you camp on this trail, it is amazing. The power and influence of the Pacific Ocean on every small speck of this trail is apparent as any hiker wanders through the forests and over the beaches along the West Coast Trail.