Ditidaht Recreation OVERVIEWThe Ditidaht region features a remote wilderness experience within a relatively short commute from the major population centres of Victoria and Vancouver. The region hosts the world-famous West Coast Trail, which runs along the rugged coast and through portions of temperate rainforests. Of equal stature in the paddling world is the Nitinat Triangle Canoe Route, a challenging route through the wilderness, with lake and creek paddling, and extensive portages. Nitinat Lake is a favored location for windsurfers, and the home waters for the Nitinat Windsurfing Society. The jewel in the crown of this region is Carmanah Walbran Provinvial Park, with some of the world's tallest trees in a spectacular forest ecosystem. Hiking, wilderness camping, freshwater fishing and canoeing are popular recreational activities in the park.
The West Coast Trail
This world-class hiking trail stretches 77km from Bamfield on the north to Port Renfrew on the south end, with much of the trail going through the Ditidaht region. This section of the coast had been the site of more than 60 shipwrecks since 1854, and the trail was originally built as a life-saving route. The trail is difficult, and not for casual hikers. The 47km section from Pachena Bay, near Bamfield, to Carmanah Point is mainly a wide and clear path; part of it can be covered on the beach, especially at low tides. The 29km section from Carmanah to Port Renfrew is more challenging, requiring stream crossings, gullies, fallen trees, near vertical ladders and narrow log bridges.
A hike of the entire trail takes 6 to 10 days; hikers must be completely self-sufficient as there are no services along the trail. Because this trail is so popular, a reservation system is now in effect: call 1-800-663-6000 to reserve your hike up to 3 months in advance. The West Coast Trail is open for hiking from May 1 to September 30; travel during the off-season is hazardous and not recommended.
The Nitinat Triangle
This rugged wilderness area is heavily wooded with old-growth temperate rainforest. The portage trails are rough, with fallen trees, steep banks and difficult footing in often boggy terrain. Paddlers must be totally self sufficient, competent and prepared any emergency situation, as there are no support services. Summer fire hazard may be high enough to prohibit open fires. All campers are expected to practice low impact camping.
The usual access to Nitnat Lake is by road from Duncan to Cowichan Lake, and logging road to the head of the lake. The nearest boat launch is at Knob Point, located on the northwest side of the lake. Starting at the head of Nitinat Lake, a return trip should take approximately four or five days. All paddlers canoeing the Nitinat Triangle must register in advance to obtain a free park use permit; group size is limited to ten. The number for registration is 250 726-7721.
Topographical maps for this region are 92C/15 (1:50 000), or the smaller scale map 92C/NE (1: 125 000); they are available from Maps BC in Victoria.
Carmanah Walbran Provincial Park
This 16,450-hectare forested refuge is one of the most stunning wild places on Vancouver Island. Located 20 km northwest of Port Renfrew, the park is home to some of the world's largest spruce and cedar trees, and offers visitors a diverse variety of flora and fauna in a wilderness setting within a short distance from Victoria. The Carmanah Giant, at 95 metres, is thought to be the tallest Sitka spruce in the world. Several hiking trails in the Carmanah Valley provide access to many of the park’s notable natural features, including some of the area’s largest trees. Many sections of the trail are extremely muddy and difficult.
The Carmanah Valley is accessed from various directions via the Caycuse River Bridge. The park is reached by vehicle from Port Alberni and Lake Cowichan, and also from West Coast Highway 14 via Port Renfrew. The Walbran Valley has no developed BC Parks' trails or facilities; access is discouraged due to potentially unsafe conditions.
Hitchie Creek Provincial Park
Nestled in the Nitinat Lake watershed, Hitchie Creek Park (226 hectares) protects old-growth lowland rainforest as well as river and lake ecosystems. The creek provides a key wildlife corridor for large species moving through the watershed, such as Roosevelt elk, black bears, cougars and wolves. A wide range of species - from salamanders to songbirds - reside in Hitchie Creek Provincial Park, which also protects potential habitat for species at risk like the endangered Marbled Murrelet and Keen’s long-eared myotis. This undeveloped park provides opportunities for wildlife viewing, nature appreciation and wilderness camping. Nearby Nitinat Lake in the adjacent Pacific Rim National Park Reserve is a popular recreation destination for swimmers, boaters, paddlers and anglers.
There is no vehicle access to this park. Access is by hiking from Hitchie Lake within the adjacent Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, a rough route approximately 1 km long.