Prologue: Where, why, what?
The West Coat Trail, part of the Pacific Rim National Park, stretches 77 km between Pachena Bay and Port Renfrew along the western shore of Vancouver Island. This piece of coastline was known as "The Graveyard of the Pacific" due to the numerous ships that found their end on the dangerous rock shelves. Development began with a telegraph line and two lighthouses to aid the ships, but not until the wreck of the SS Valencia in 1906 claimed the lives of 126 people near the rocks now called Valencia Bluffs, the Canadian Government began the construction of a lifesaving trail. This trail was intended to allow quick access to the coast and was maintained by lighthouse keepers and telegraph linesmen.
Today many thousands of people hike the trail every year. It is now maintained by the Canadian Parks Service and due to the overwhelming rush of interested hikers they had to introduce a quota system. 26 people are allowed to go on the trail from each trailhead each day (making 52 people a day). There is a possibility to make reservations (which costs an additional reservation fee) for about 40 of these, the rest of the spots are alloted on a first-come, first-served basis. So if you turn up you could easily be allowed on the trail the same day, but you also could have to wait several days. For all hikers there is a fee (I don't know how much at the moment) but this includes a very good waterproof map with tide tables, so you don't have to buy one in advance. It is not possible to be on the trail without a permit, but the money you spend is spent well. The trail is under constant repair and maintenance. Canadian Parks Service has installed numerous ladders and boardwalks to both protect nature and the hikers health. For more (and more accurate) information you should contact the Canadian Parks Service and consider to buy a guide.
Up to the Overview. Start the hike.