Nootka Island Trail
from† CAD $2304
We will take a float plane from Gold River to our access point at Starfish Lagoon on Nootka Island. You will experience amazing sandy beaches, interesting sandstone formations and true old growth rainforest. We finish our journey at Yuquot or Friendly Cove where Captain Cook first made contact. We will visit the local First Nations family, the historic church and the coast guard lighthouse. The area around Nootka Island is believed to have been inhabited for thousands of years. There is evidence to suggest that human presence at Yuquot at Friendly Cove dates back at least 4,000 years. The area's inhabitants were first called Nootka by James Cook in 1778. As was the case when cultures with different languages met, communication was reduced to gestures and drawings, which were often misinterpreted. Although there is some debate over the origin of the term "nootka", the best guess is that it comes from "nootk-sitl" meaning to go around or make a circuit. It probably was used by the inhabitants to indicate that Nootka was an island, and not to their name. The people who claim Nootka Island and who maintain a presence at Yuquot are the Mowachaht ("place where the deer come from"). This trek, on Vancouver Island's rugged west coast, promises and delivers a great wilderness experience.
Trail Rating DF23adefg
Group Size Medium
Dates and PricesBook Now
- Day 1 Pick up and travel to Gold River
Day 0: Arrival in Nanaimo
This denotes the day(s) spent on Vancouver Island before the listed start date of the trip. We like to have a pre-trip meeting the evening before this trip to go over gear and backpack weights.
Day 1 – This morning we will pick you up from your accommodations in Nanaimo drive to the west coast of Vancouver Island and the community of Gold River. After arrival in Gold River, we will fly by floatplane to Louie Bay on Nootka Island. Our pilot usually flies us over Friendly Cove, the end of our hike, and along the stretch of coast we will be hiking for a bird's-eye view of our journey. After landing in Louie Bay, a short hike will bring us to the west coast of Nootka Island and our first campsite on a beautiful sandy beach.
- Day 2 To Calvin Falls
Today's hike is a full day with a wide variety of rain forest and beaches, from sand to small boulders, forming our path. Our goal is Calvin Falls, a fantastic spot to enjoy on a warm day. This is our longest day km wise at approx. 15km's.
- Day 3 To Beano Creek
Beano Creek is our destination today. Beano often has a perfect swimming hole to enjoy after a day of hiking. We will cover approx. 10km's today, all on the "beach". Of course "beach" can have many meanings!!
- Day 4 To a Beach campsite
Today's hike more than any other will be dictated by the access to available water at camp. We have a special camp in mind. Flexibility is the key today.
- Day 5 Past Makinna Point
Our final fuller day of hiking will take us just short of Friendly Cove. The terrain today is varied as we climb in and out of the rainforest onto pocket beaches. Each small beach has it's own special character and are full of stunning views and possibly treasures from the sea (Japanese glass fishing balls anyone!) Tides will dictate some of our route and options.
- Day 6 To Yuquot and Nanaimo
We will arrive at the village of Yuquot and Friendly Cove before noon. Yuquot is the traditional village of the Mowachaht who have lived in the region for over 4000 years. Spain and England alternately occupied the area. It was during Cook's third voyage around the world in 1778 that he was forced to make repairs to his vessels in Nootka Sound. In recognition of the friendliness accorded him and his crew, he named the area Friendly Cove.
Of special interest here are the lighthouse and the elegant little church with spire that rises above the surrounding brambles. The church is no longer used for services because of the relocation of the Mowachaht to Gold River, but serves as a museum of replica houseposts.
In the late morning we will be returned to Gold River by floatplane. We will lunch in Gold River or Campbell River before returning to the Comox Valley and a well deserved hot shower!
inclusions and exclusions at a glance
- Transportation from the point of origin and return
- Air Nootka flights to and from the trail
- Snacks/beverages on the expedition
- All meals while on the backpacking portion
- Meal preparation
- Camping fees
- Trail ferry fees
- Exceptional guides for entire journey
- Cooking gear/camp stoves/water filtration
- Tents & tarps
- Emergency radio/satellite phone/major first aid supplies
- † We can provide sleeping bags, sleeping pads, backpacks, poles for rent
- Transportation to point of origin, transfers, personal equipment, accommodation and food other than included in the itinerary.
- Gratuities are not included. Our guides make every effort to ensure your holiday is all you expected and more. Recognition of a job well done is always appreciated; $10-20/day per guide is recommended.
- Single tents †(available for a single supplement charge)
Vancouver Many of the major North American carriers fly into Vancouver or alternately, Seattle. Check with your travel agent for options. There is a bus service, Quick Shuttle , from Seattle's airport to hotels in Vancouver. These run daily and are reasonably priced. For more information, in North America, phone 1/800/665-2122 or 1/604/940-4428 – Fax 1/604/940-4429. Check the link regarding shuttles and other airport information.
Nanaimo Several bigger carriers fly into Nanaimo, usually after a change in Vancouver. Check with your travel agent for options that take you all the way to Nanaimo. Alternatively, the Horseshoe Bay ferry in West Vancouver sails to Departure Bay, Nanaimo. The Tsawwassen ferry terminal also has sailings to the Duke Point ferry terminal in Nanaimo.
Nanaimo The following hotels are recommended accommodations and are pick up locations.
Naniamo Pick up & Hotels
Pick up: Departure Bay, Duke Point Ferry Terminal, or the following Accommodations:
Days Inn Harbour View Nanaimo
Address: 809 Island Hwy South, Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada, V9R 5K1
Phone (250) 754-8171
Best Western Dorchester Hotel
Address: 70 Church, Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada, V9R 5H4
Phone: (250) 754-6835
Painted Turtle Guesthouse
Address: 121 Bastion Street, Nanaimo, British Columbia CANADA, V9R 3A2
Toll Free: 1-866-309-4432
Phone: (250) 753-4432
This is a rugged hike for some portions. The best boots for this kind of backpacking are solid-able to take rough talus slopes, water proof, and with a full, stiff shank for ankle support. If you get new boots, it is important to break them in before your trip to ensure that they are comfortable and to minimize the risk of blisters. It is also a good idea to bring a pair of comfortable sandals or water shoes for wearing around camp and for crossing streams or other bodies of water.
For a multiday backpacking trip in varied terrain, you will want a backpack with a capacity of at least 65-85 liters, depending on the size of your gear and the type of trip you are taking.
Some key features to look for in a backpack for this type of trip include:
Comfort: Look for a backpack with a comfortable and well-padded hip belt and shoulder straps, as well as a good ventilation system to prevent your back from getting too hot and sweaty.
Durability: Choose a backpack made from strong and durable materials, such as ripstop nylon, to withstand the rigors of the trail.
Weather resistance: Consider a backpack with a waterproof or water-resistant cover or built-in rain cover to protect your gear from the elements.
Load-carrying ability: Look for a backpack with a sturdy frame and good load-carrying capacity to support the weight of your gear.
Organization: Choose a backpack with plenty of pockets, compartments, and attachment points to help you keep your gear organized and easily accessible.
Size: Make sure the backpack fits you well and is the right size for your body and your gear.
It is also a good idea to try on a few different backpacks and load them with weight to get a feel for how they carry before making your final decision.
Hiking poles can be a helpful tool for a rugged backpacking trip, as they can provide additional support and stability on rough or uneven terrain. They can also help to reduce the impact on your joints and muscles by distributing some of the load to your upper body.
However, whether or not to use hiking poles is ultimately a personal decision, and it may depend on factors such as your physical abilities, the terrain you will be hiking on, and your personal preference. Some people find that hiking poles help them to maintain balance and reduce fatigue, while others prefer to hike without them.
If you do decide to use hiking poles, it is important to choose a pair that is comfortable, lightweight, and adjustable to your height. It is also a good idea to practice using them before your trip to get a feel for how they work and to ensure that you are using them correctly.
You can expect to carry up to 40 lbs, depending on the gear you bring. (about 18.2 kg)
We pack and prepare the food to bring, usually about 7 to 8 lbs (3.1 to 3.6 kg). We also share out the group gear. We are also supplying the tents, which typically weight 4 to 6 lbs., depending on whether they are double or single tents (double occupancy is standard, singles require a supplemental charge). Double tents are split between guests, so usually contribute about 3 lbs. to pack weight.
Altogether, expect to be given about 11 to 13 lbs. (5.0 to 5.9 kg). If you want your pack weight to be 35 lbs. (15.9 kg) or less, then your 60+ litre backpack and gear that you bring, along with 2 Litres of water, can only weigh up to about 22 lbs. (10 kg).
Nootka Island is relatively flat, level ground, so it is only moderately strenuous. You still need to train, and we do not supply sherpas. Although the hiking is fairly simple, you are still carrying everything needed for the entire trip.
Tips, or gratuities, are not mandatory. However, please consider what service is actually being given to you. While you might think that the company should just pay the guides better, it is not so simple. We do work in a competitive market, and pay rates are a function of the trip prices. If we could double prices, we would pay guides significantly better. At Sea to Sky, we have some of the better pay rates in the industry, and we are always pushing our competitors to increase pay rates for guides, but there is only so much we can do. Guides are seasonal workers. They shift off of their summer season to winter activities, or fill in with retail work, which is usually little more than minimum wage, often to periods of no work between seasonal jobs. It is a hard job, and wearing on the body.
The guides carry most of the group gear, so they have heavier loads than you have, all for you, because they would not be carrying much of the extras on a personal trip. Your guides are teaching you, helping you through challenges, cooking for you and serving you your meals, providing a safety envelope for you, and if you have a really good guide, they are filling you up with a deeper experience of being in the place you are visiting by telling you about the flora, fauna and history of the place.
So, how much should you tip your guides?
If you ate every meal out in a day, at a good, but low-cost restaurant, you would probably tip between $10 and $15 per day. If you were travelling and visiting a city and ate all your meals out, this is about how much you would tip for the day, low end. I would submit that the guides are feeding you all three meals in a day, AND serving you in so many more ways. That makes $10-$15 a day a minimum consideration, really. 10% to 15% of a trip price has been another rule of thumb that has been used. If your trip price is $2000, then $200 to $300 split between the guides is reasonable, and falls within that standard. Like most humans, guides are motivated when they are recognized and valued.
Your circumstances matter. If you are a student and clearly struggled to put together the cost of the trip, or have other circumstances that limit your ability to tip, guides understand and honour your appreciation, no matter what the size. However, if you have a large income or high net worth and means, a small tip might be a slap in the face. If you have means and you clearly and vocally appreciated the guides and all they did, and then leave a $50 tip after a 7 to 9 day trip, that amount would probably be insulting. If you have a fairly large income or net worth, you likely spend it on higher end restaurants, and maybe higher cost wine, drinks or desserts. You might even give a $50 tip for a dinner meal out-for ONE meal, so just consider your ability to tip and the level of service you received over the whole trip.
The largest tip any of our guides has received from one person is $1,500.00 for a 9-day trip. This was highly unusual, and was because we went way out of the way to replace her boots in the middle of the trail because her boots were falling apart, and was on top of paying for the boots and the transport out to the trail. That was extraordinary service, and an extraordinary tip. On average, guides usually receive about $75 to $125 from each guest for each guide.
At Sea to Sky, we also split the tips between the lead and assistant guides, and proportionally with any drivers. We have a strong culture of teamwork and both the lead and assistant guides play essential roles for you, so we ensure both share equally in the tips for the trip. Tips are not shared or taken by owners and managers not on your trip, unless you send it separately and specify it is for service before or after a trip.