The West Coast of Vancouver Island is a special place. Hikers from around the world come to the area to explore and enjoy its spectacular natural beauty. The Nootka trail is a remote coastal hike that combines abundant marine flora and fauna, West Coast ruggedness and old growth forest. Long stretches of secluded beach, surf from the open Pacific Ocean and visits to First Nations historic sites are part of this adventure. Uniquely, the trail requires a scenic float plane ride to access the start point and the return trip is on a converted World War II minesweeper or water taxi. Both have been described as exceptional experiences on their own.
In 1778, Captain James Cook made the first recorded contact with the First nations people in Yuquot (Friendly Cove), the end point of the Nootka Trail. The area is closely tied to the local First Nations people and there are opportunities to explore 2 historical sites on route. Presently, Friendly Cove is one of the few remaining manned lighthouses on the Coast of British Columbia and is a fantastic finishing point for the trail.
Day 1: 7:00am at Painters Lodge, Campbell River, BC
We meet at 7:00 am at Painters Lodge in Campbell River, BC to check our equipment before driving the 1.5 hours to Gold River, BC. Here we will transfer our packs to a float plane and start our adventure. The 15-20 minute flight will give us the opportunity to view our route from the air before landing in the Starfish Lagoon, the starting point of the Nootka Trail. After wading to shore we will follow a short trail through forest to Third Beach and our campsite for the first night. There is the possibility of a short hike North of Third beach where we can explore 2 small and secluded coves. 1 km 30 minutes plus potential side trip.
After our morning routine, we will leave Third Beach and hike towards Calvin Falls. Crossing headlands through old growth forest, walking across sandy and rocky beaches, this will be our first full day of hiking on the trail. With the constant roar of the Pacific we may be lucky enough to see some of the diverse wildlife on route. 16km 6 hours
Beano Creek is our day’s objective as we leave the sand of Calvin Bay behind. A historical First Nations site where Longhouses used to stand is on route and will be an interesting side trip. If the tide is low enough there is a reef that provides an excellent opportunity to view the extensive sea life in the area. Sea Otters also frequent the area. After exploring where time and tides allow, we will continue our coastal journey to our campsite. 10km 5-6 hours
There are several small beaches and headlands to cross today and the tides will dictate our time in the forest versus hiking in the inter-tidal zone. Side trails from the forest trail bring you to many view points on route. The views from Maquinna Point are exceptional and stretch both North from where we have come and South toward the final day of hiking. We will camp a short distance from Maquinna Point. 8km 4 hours plus time to explore on route
Our final day will be a short hike across sandy and pebbly beaches to the Muchalet-Mowahat First Nations village of Yuquot. Captain James Cook first visited this area in 1778 with his two ships the Discovery and the Resolution. We will have the chance to enjoy the village’s historical and cultural depth while we visit a fallen Totem pole and potentially the local master carver in the area. There is also a Church which has been in the same location since 1875 and now holds First Nations artifacts. Of course the Friendly Cove lighthouse, which is a National Historic Site, is also a main attraction and is one of the last lighthouses that is manned in British Columbia.
Although our hiking journey will be completed at this point we will have the pleasure of riding either the MV Uchuck III, a converted and reconditioned World War II minesweeper, or a water taxi from Friendly Cove back to Gold River, BC. While on route we will pass Bligh Island Marine Provincial Park and enjoy the West Coast scenery from the water.
5km 2-3 hours of hiking plus time to explore the Muchalet-Mowahat village at Yuquot/Friendly Cove and enjoy the cruise back to Gold River on the MV Uchuck III.
Meeting Place and Time
We will be meeting in the main lobby at Painters Lodge in Campbell River, BC at 7:00am. We will have a quick introduction, gear check and sign waivers before leaving for Gold River, BC and our flight to Nootka Island.
Guides and Group Size
Yamnuska Mountain Adventure guides are certified through the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides. Our professional guides have extensive backpacking experience. Guides also have advanced wilderness first aid training and heritage interpretation accreditation. Guides carry emergency equipment including a first aid kit, bear spray and emergency communication device.
There will be a maximum of seven guests and a minimum of four.
Accommodation and Meals
On the trail, you will be staying in modern, lightweight weather-proof tents.
Pre and post hotel Accommodation is not included and we recommend staying at the scenic Painters Lodge in Campbell River, BC (which is our meeting place on day one)
We supply all meals and trail snacks from lunch on Day 1 to lunch on Day 5.
Trail cuisine is prepared from lightweight wholesome ingredients including our Yamnuska custom-made dehydrated dinners. For guests with dietary restrictions, we are able to modify the program food pack out to meet your individual needs. As food pricing and preparation for these diets is more costly, we have implemented the following surcharges. For vegan, gluten free, lactose free, soy free, nut free or any similar type of single restriction menu requests there will be a $16/day surcharge. For a diet requiring any 2 restrictions a $25/day surcharge will apply. For any 3 restrictions a $30/day surcharge will apply. Vegetarian meals will not be surcharged. For more complex diets our kitchen staff will assess the restrictions to inform you if the diet can be accommodated and what surcharge would apply.
Guests are responsible for making their own way to Campbell River, British Columbia (on Vancouver Island).
Ground transport to and from Gold River, flights to Starfish Lagoon on Nootka Island and either the MV Uchuck III or water taxi from Friendly Cove to Gold River is included.
Equipment and Clothing
We supply group camping and cooking equipment, as well as an emergency communication device, trip food, bear spray, water purification equipment and a full expedition emergency first-aid kit. You will need to bring personal backpacking equipment and clothing. When purchasing gear consider both functionality as well as weight. Lightweight packs, sleeping bags, sleeping mats and clothing are readily available and will lighten your load substantially.
What you bring will have a big impact on the quality of your experience. Please take the time to read the information below, and cross check with our Traveling Light and Making Backpacking Fun. The list below will keep you very comfortable in the field. Make sure you have all your clothing and gear before you arrive, and reserve any rentals with us in advance. Your guide will go through your clothing and gear with you prior to the trip.
When hiking in the mountains, it is important to be able to adjust for the changing conditions. We recommend bringing clothing that can be layered to achieve comfort as you change from periods of activity to periods of rest. We discourage cotton clothing as it causes rapid heat loss when wet.
You will need to bring:
- Wool or fleece hat / toque
- Sunhat – Wide brim or baseball style
- Long underwear top and bottoms – Lightweight synthetic or merino wool
- Socks – Preferably a synthetic / merino wool blend. Bring at least two pairs.
- Light Synthetic Shirt
- Jacket – A midweight synthetic jacket
- Insulated Jacket – synthetic or down jacket
- Waterproof / Breathable Rain Jacket
- Rain Pants – Also waterproof / breathable. Ideally with side zips so they can be put on without taking off your boots.
- Hiking Pants – Preferably windproof and quick drying. No blue jeans or cotton pants.
- Light Gloves / Mitts
- Light Footwear – Crocs, Tevas, or lightweight shoes for the occasional creek crossing and use around camp.
You will need to bring:
- Boots – Spend some time walking around in your boots before you arrive for your trip and get used to how they feel. They should have good ankle support and tread, with sturdy soles. Your boots will make or break your holiday so some time getting used to them is time well spent. Ensure they have been waterproofed or have a good waterproof liner material.
- Gaiters – These really help to keep your feet dry as well as keeping socks and pants free of mud and debris.
- Large Backpack – This should be between 55 and 75 Liter capacity depending on the bulk of your personal gear and length of the trip. In it you will carry your clothing, sleeping bag and mat, plus your share of group camping gear and food which is typically an extra 10 – 20 liters of space. Lightweight packs with good suspension are recommended.
- Pack Cover – This should be waterproof and large enough to cover the outside of your pack to keep the contents dry in a rain storm. You can also line the inside of your stuff sacks with plastic bags to keep gear dry.
- Sleeping Bag – We recommend a ‘3 season’ bag rated 0ºC to –6ºC as temperatures can drop to below freezing at night. Make sure you bring a stuff sac with compression straps that will reduce your bag to its minimum size. This will provide enough space in your pack for everything else. A down bag will be lighter and more compressible for the weight than a synthetic bag. It is recommended that you place your compressed sleeping bag in a plastic bag to ensure it stays dry in all conditions.
- Sleeping Mat – Lightweight “Therm-a-rest” mats are recommended.
- Pillow – A small, compressible pillow or a spare stuff sack into which you can stuff extra clothes to create a pillow.
- Trekking Poles – Must be collapsible.
- Sunglasses – With 100% UV protection and a hardcase.
- Headlamp – With fresh batteries
- Water Bottle / Bladder – 1-2 litre capacity.
- Blister Kit – Moleskin, Second Skin, etc.
- Personal First Aid Kit – Our guide carries a group first aid kit so keep this small. Band Aids, Tylenol/ibuprofen, etc.
- Sun Block & Lip Balm – Extra strength with UV protection.
- Eating Utensils – Bowls, sporks, a large mug, light pocket knife, etc.
- Personal Toiletries – Keep to a minimum with no scented items.
- Insect repellent
Please book as early as practical to avoid disappointment. A 35% deposit CDN (including GST) is required at time of booking. Final payment is due eight weeks before the start of the trip.
For detailed Booking Instructions and Conditions, click here.
Please note that you will be required to sign our waiver before commencing the trip. Click here for waiver copy.
There are two basic types of insurance that most travelers need to consider: Medical and Cancellation/Trip Interruption Insurance. We offer our guests coverage for both and highly recommend you purchase it.
Emergency Medical Expenses Insurance:
It is wise to ensure that your health plan will cover you in case of illness or accident during your trip. Obtain extra coverage if necessary. There is no charge for rescue in the National and provincial Parks, however costs such as air or ground transportation, long term care and other services are not covered.
Cancellation/Trip Interruption Insurance:
We recognize that our guests’ schedules may change for many reasons; business, family, flight delays, injuries and other unplanned events.For these eventualities the Trip Cancellation/Interruption insurance is a great way to protect your investment.
For all your travel insurance requirements we recommend the Simpson Group. This agency offers a wide range of travel insurance options including Trip Cancellation/Interruption, Travel Medical and Personal Effect Loss for Canadian Travelers. We highly recommend purchasing this insurance. For more information and to purchase a plan, visit the Simpson Group’s website.
Please note that this coverage is for Canadian residents only. For guests who are not from Canada and who are interested in the ‘Visitors to Canada’ insurance package please contact the Simpson Group directly at JSimpson@simpson-group.com and reference your Yamnuska Mountain Adventure’s trip.
$2550 CDN Includes guide, out-trip meals, group camping gear and ground transportation from Campbell River to Gold River return, scenic flight to the trail head and return via water transport to Gold River at the end of the hike.
Not included: Pre and post hotel accommodation, transportation to Campbell River, BC, Gratuities for guide & 5% Goods & Services Tax (GST).
Trip Cancellation Insurance is available through the Simpson Group.
How difficult is it?
How fit and experienced do you need to be?
This trip is rated as moderate/challenging due to the potential for slippery sections both in the forest if wet and on the rocks in the inter-tidal zones. Sandy and pebbly beaches also add challenge as they are more physically demanding to walk on than regular trails. There are also short steep sections while traversing the many headlands that may require using a rope as a hand line for balance. There is minimal elevation gain on this trip. Participants will be carrying personal clothing and gear plus a fair share of food and group gear (tents, stoves, etc.). By keeping personal gear light, pack weights need not exceed 20kg (44lbs).
Prior hiking experience is strongly recommended. Participants must be in good physical condition and able to carry a backpack in variable terrain for a succession of moderate to long days. The difficulty of this trip can vary depending on whether the forest trails are muddy or dry. Break in those hiking boots!