Take a hike on the West Coast Trail via Nitinaht Lake Campground


Ditidaht First Nation (West Coast, Vancouver Island, BC) – Hikers, walkers and campers, listen up as this is your call! If you’ve ever wanted to experience one of the world’s most legendary hiking or walking experiences, Ditidaht First Nation, along Vancouver Island’s very west coast, has an invitation for you.

Base yourself in one of their new cabins within their Nitinaht Lake Campground and use this hack to access the West Coast Trail, without a reservation! Day hike it, basing yourself at the midpoint of the trail, on Nitinaht Lake.

Watch: Welcome to Nitinaht Campground, West Coast Vancouver Island

Watch Welcome to Nitinaht Campground, West Coast Vancouver Island on YouTube.

If you are a kiteboarder, you’ve probably heard of the 120 site Nitinaht Campground located about a one-and-a-half-hour drive west of Port Alberni.

Known for its reliable winds, it’s been a popular destination for those who are looking to score some new Airmiles on their own terms. However a stay at Nitinaht doesn’t just stop there, it also makes for the perfect hiking, walking or just chilling destination.

Photo: Kea Mowat
Camping at Nitinaht Campground sets you up to kitesurf on Nitinaht Lake, a 23km saltwater fjord reaching into Vancouver Island from the Pacific Ocean

“These cabins make for a perfect basecamp,” explains hiker and kiteboarder Louissa Cotton, they're “well built, with a proper kitchen, bathroom, and less than a three-minute walk to the lake, while sheltered from the wind.”

Book your own piece of paradise today

AND here is the Hack – did you know eight years ago Parks Canada added mid-point access to the trail? For an $11 permit fee, from the West Coast Trail's Balaats'adt (Nitinaht Village) Trailhead next to the General Store, anyone out of Nitinaht can day hike it. And the citizens of Ditidaht have built a full economy to support you in this.

Photo: Kea Mowat
One of 6 new cabins you can stay in at Nitinaht Campground

Theses 6 new cabins are named after the Ditidaht villages that span across their homelands. Bookings for these fully self-contained units, are now open for booking this summer!

For Ditidaht citizen Deevo Chester, building the new cabins added a new skill set to his resume. “This was my first project like this; in constructing our cabins here in the campground, now I have lots of friends from the community coming up and asking if the team and I (there were seven of us) would build them a cabin this nice!” 

Not only is Chester a top craftsman, he is also a musician, whose family’s paddle song plays in the feature video above.

Hike the West Coast Trail with mid-point access via Nitinaht Campground.

Heading out onto the trails? You'll start your day by heading to the Parks Office for 7am, conveniently located a five-minute walk away from the campground. 

There, you'll pick up your pass and get shuttled to the lake. From there, a water taxi with Nitinat Wilderness Charters will take you on a scenic 30-minute boat ride south to the mid-point of the West Coast Trail.

From here you can either hike north – 15km return to experience Tsusiat Falls. Or if you're feeling more ambitious, hike the south route along the West Coast Trail across the impressive Cheewhat Beach to the Carmanah Light Station and back.

Photo: Kea Mowat
Visit the Nitinaht General store and café for groceries and snacks, just 5 minutes away from your cabin

4pm your water taxi will be waiting, to get you back to the campground – just in time to hit up the Nitinaht General store and café for a Nitinaht extreme burger (two patties, onion rings, fried hot dog on top with all the fixings), all within five mins from your cabin.

This shuttle and water taxi service is offered every day for the past eight years between May long and Sept long weekend.

“You instantly feel you’ve arrived somewhere special,” quotes Cotton, “I can appreciate those who do come to hike, as this campground is perfectly situated for day hikes on the West Coast Trail. I was surprised how well stocked the store and the little restaurant was.”

When you go

For more information about this West Coast Trail hack, or you can call and reserve your shuttle spot, the number is 250.745.3203 (Parks Canada – office for Ditidaht).

Get in touch with Nitinaht Lake Express Shuttle about guided hiking day trips [email protected]. Or speak with Carl who runs the water taxi service, Nitinaht Wilderness Charters, about his fishing trips.

Getting to Ditidaht First Nation’s Nitinaht Campground just got a lot smoother in 2024 – if go out of Port Alberni, considering Huu-ay-aht Frist Nations and the BC Government chip sealed most of the main road taken to get here.
If you are traveling from South Island, Nanaimo/Victoria, chart your way towards Lake Cowichan and at the juntion straight on through to the community of Youbou, putting you on about an hour logging road to the campground.

Bookings for the campground or the cabins can be made on the Nitinaht Campground website.

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