Vancouver Island offers some of the very best multi-day outdoor adventure trips in the world. Let me start by saying that I do not claim to be an expert on the subject, having only tackled five of these trips to this point in my life. Nonetheless, I thought it would be fun to rank my favourite multi-day trips in hopes of starting a conversation with others about their favourites. Here we go.
#1 Della Falls
Having been born and raised in Port Alberni, Della Falls had been on my bucket list long before I realized I was mortal. Strangely, it was the last of the five trips that I tackled. I really wasn’t sure what to expect, but Della Falls over delivered. Perhaps because I was raised inland on Vancouver Island, I’ve always liked hiking forest and rivers more so that ocean trails. Della Falls is the ultimate river forest hike. The falls were nothing short of spectacular, but it was the last three hours of hiking through the lush rainforest leading to the falls that really capitated me. I’ll definitely be going back.
#2 North Coast Trail
My wife and I hiked the North Coast Trail soon after it was officially open. The water taxi told us that he figured we were among the first 200 people to hike it. History has always fascinated me – when you standing a spot and can almost feel the ghosts of people long moved on. For this reason, I personally really enjoyed the Cape Scott portion of the trip – hiking through old homesteads that had been reclaimed by the Vancouver Island wilderness. The true North Coast Trail part of the hike was amazing. The scenery was spectacular and we didn’t see another hiker, unless you count the bears, the whole time we were on the trail. I imagine it to be what the West Coast Trail used to be.
#3 Kayaking the Broken Group of Islands
Our family’s second home is in Bamfield, precisely because we feel that the Barkley Sound is the most beautiful place on the planet. On this trip we made base camp on one island and spent five days exploring the Broken Group. Ancient fish traps, sites of First Nation battles, paddling with orcas, sea lions, and the general west coast scenery were among the highlights of our trip. The trip would rank higher on my list, if not for the fact that I prefer hiking over kayaking.
#4 West Coast Trail
What can I say; it’s the West Coast Trail! The icon of Vancouver Island hiking, and something I’d wanted to do my entire life. We had beautiful weather and did the hike in five days. It was everything it was billed to be. As a shipwreck diver myself, the nautical history of the trail captivated me. The only reason I rank it this low is because of the crowds. At one point my friend and I set up camp right beside a rotten sea lion carcass, simply because we preferred the smell over camping in the tent cities. Hiking atop the bluffs overlooking the wreck site of the SS Valencia and Tsusiat Falls were the highlights of the trip.
#5 Mount Klitsa
I hiked Mount Klitsa as part of a school trip when I was a teenager. We did the hike in three days – one day to basecamp, one day to summit, and one day home. The views from the top of Mount Klitsa were utterly amazing. I’ll never forget standing atop the sheer cliff and feeling like I was on top of the world. Another highlight of the trip was hand feeding the Whiskey Jacks at the little lake that served as our basecamp. I did this hike with a teacher who had, a few years earlier, fallen off a 100’ cliff on the same mountain, and survived! Standing with him atop the cliff that could have so easily taken his life was eye opening, and he taught us much about safety on the mountains.
That’s it – my top five multi-day Vancouver Island hikes in order. I’d love to hear about your favourites and hopefully add some future trips to my to-do list!