Vancouver Island offers some of the best hiking anywhere in the world. Summers are very pleasant – no humidity, and not too hot – and the only threats to safety come in the form of wild animals, like bears and cougars. But that adds to the excitement of hiking in British Columbia, and seeing a bear or cougar in the wild can be a wonderfully memorable experience. Bear bells will help announce your presence to bears and other wildlife, but a good dose of common sense is more likely to keep you out of trouble. Some parks are extremely remote, with very limited emergency services, or none at all, so hikers should be well prepared and self-sufficient.
Cape Scott Provincial Park
Location: North Vancouver Island
You would need over a week to hike the trails and see everything in Cape Scott Park. Trails range in length from two to thirty kilometres, and from a pleasant stroll to a challenging and demanding test of skill and stamina. The incessant rain results in muddy conditions on primitive trails, but the visual and emotional rewards are beyond comparison, especially on a clear day. Cape Scott Provincial Park Trails.
Pacific Rim National Park
Location: Pacific Rim, West Coast Vancouver Island
The Long Beach area offers nine short walking trails, two of which are wheelchair accessible. Most feature interpretive signs or brochures explaining the cultural and natural heritage en route. In addition to park trails, approximately 20km of sandy beaches provide enjoyable hiking. The 75-km West Coast Trail is the mother of all hikes on Vancouver Island, attracting adventurous hikers from around the world. The internationally-acclaimed hiking trail retraces an old telegraph route that once connected Victoria with Cape Beale near Bamfield. West Coast Trail
Carmanah Walbran Provincial Park
Location: South West Vancouver Island
The 16,450-hectare park provides excellent opportunities for wilderness camping and hiking. Trails in the park lead either up or down Carmanah Creek. The northern route leads 7.5 km to the park boundary, and beyond, while the southern route is closed at the 2.6-km mark for public safety and to preserve the fragile environment. Carmanah Walbran is way off the beaten track on the southwest corner of the island, so visitor numbers are very low. Don’t be alarmed to encounter no other hikers while enjoying the silence and solitude of this remote and wilderness park.
Strathcona Provincial Park
Location: Central Vancouver Island
The rugged wilderness areas, glaciers, snowfields and mountains of Strathcona Park provide endless opportunities for day hiking and multi-day backpacking trips. Trailheads are situated at 3 locations in the park: hiking routes originate in the Forbidden Plateau region to the summit of Mount Becher and to McKenzie Meadows, and other trails into Forbidden Plateau begin from the Paradise Meadows trailhead on Mount Washington. Great Central Lake is the trailhead for the Della Falls Trail.
East Sooke Regional Park
Location: Greater Victoria, South Vancouver Island
East Sooke Park is one of the most spectacular parks in the Greater Victoria region, providing over 50 kilometres of trails through forest, marsh and field, with pocket beaches, rocky bays and tidal pools for exploring. The ten-kilometre Coast Trail is considered one of the premier day hikes in Canada, taking hikers through lush rain forest, along windswept bluffs and down to the ocean’s edge. The trail is rough and winding, a challenging 6–hour trip even for energetic or experienced hikers. More on the Coast Trail.