Best photography spots along the West Coast Trail on Vancouver Island.
Introduction West Coast Trail
The West Coast Trail on Vancouver Island is one of the most popular long-distance hikes in Canada. Almost every Canadian I have met, finished parts of it or planned to do it. So, what’s all the fuzz about this trek?
The West Coast Trail stretches 75 kilometers along the Pacific Ocean and leads through the Pacific Rim National Park. There are three points to start the trail: Gordon River, , and the middle point in Nitinaht Village. Due to the popularity of the trek, Phil and I did not find any spots to start the trail from start to finish. Hence, we decided to start from the middle point southwards, where the more arduous stretches are. Make sure to register early.
WCT Field Diary
Recently, I finished the five-part field diary and published it on ExpediTom. This diary recounts the story from preparation and every single day Philippe and I had trekked along the coast of Vancouver Island. The trek lead us from Nitinaht narrows to Campers Bay, to Camp Walbrun, Trasher’s Cove, and back to Gordon river by ferry.
For further information about the West Coast Trail and the sections we hiked, as well as gear we used check out ExpediTom.
The Lone Tree
On the way to the starting point of the West Coast Trail, you will eventually reach a single tree growing from a dead half-submerged trunk. This sight is right next to the gravel road in a small pond. When travelling by car, this would be my first stop to make. Given we were on a bus ride from Victoria, we had no chance for this subject. I recently saw this image taken by a fellow photographer on Facebook.
However, there is another piece of drift wood that caught my eye:
Some hikers went 1 day north from the Nitinaht narrows to see the a waterfall and head back south again. We didn’t.
There are several outlooks marked on the map which offer scenic views provided the weather fine. However, the most rewarding sights usually are in between theses places. The rock formations combined with massive drift wood logs allow for a surreal experience. One of the largest logs I have ever seen in my life lies at the beach in Nitinaht village.
Among the highlights of the West Coast Trail was hands down Owen’s Point. I was astonished I had not seen any magnificent landscape shots as are common from the Oregon coastline. Assumingly, the location being away two days trekking, scares off most photographers with delicate gear. The vertical cliffs with its distinct colorful seaweed growing where the tide reaches makes for a magnificent sight. It is well worth being early, in order to make most of the low tide.
Provided you are lucky with the weather, you will experience one of the clearest night skies in your life. Separated by thousands of sea miles over the Pacific, the light pollution is nil. Keep your eyes on the sky an be prepared for a short window of clear weather. I tried to do a timelapse but it was rendered impossible by fog rolling in shortly after.
Furthermore, given the WCT facing – you guessed it – west, it offers the opportunity to capture magnificent sunsets.
Given that the entity of the West Coast Trail is in the Pacific Rim National Park, it is forbidden to use any drone (UAV). No Aerial photography allowed
Countless wonderful sights along the way that make for an incredible scenery with the very common low hanging mist. It felt as if in the movie Pirates of the Caribbean.
Regarding photography gear during an extended trek, it is crucial to go as light as possible. Photography gear is no exception. We carried two Sony Alpha cameras (5100, 6500) and three lenses. First, there was the ultrawide Sony 10-18mm f4, which is great for filming handheld due to the built in Optical Steady Shot. However, it lacks the ability to shoot at low light conditions or at night. The second lens was the Tamron 18-200mm f3.5-6.3, which gives me a full frame equivalent of 27-300mm. This lens allowed me to take macro and wildlife shots, but at the same time offered great compression capabilities when used from a distance. The third lens was the Sigma 16mm f1.4 which excels all former glass by its sharpness and lowlight performance.
All in all, I was confident with this setup, yet a DJI Osmo would have given me steadier footage.
Keep in mind the wet conditions and prepare accordingly!