The Nootka Trail is a roughly five day, 35 km hike off the west coast of Vancouver Island. The Trail is located on the west coast of Nootka Island, pretty much straight across Vancouver Island from Campbell River.
Access, Permits and Fees
The trailhead is only accesible by float plane (from Gold River) or water taxi (from Gold River, Tahsis, or Zeballos). The end of the trail (Friendly Cove) is visited twice-weekly by the MV Uchuck III (a tourist ferry/supply boat out of Gold River). It is easiest to take the float plane into the trailhead (Louie Lagoon) and then the MV Uchuck III back out to Gold River. Gold River is only accesible by car or float plane (no buses run there). The trail is unofficial so no permits are required, but the First Nations charge a $40 (in 2005) access fee to cross their land (mainly at the end of the trail).
Five days on the trail (Day6 is so short it hardly counts) lets you take your time and makes the timing for tides and the ferry out easier.
Fly in Louie Lagoon and hike to Third Beach (~30-45min). Camp there (this allows for travelling from Vancouver on the same day, or a possible day trip north towards an old shipwreck and Ferrer Point)
Third Beach to Calvin Falls. First part of day is half beach/half trail, second part is all beach walking. Calvin Falls is a nice place for a swim. Watch tides for crossing small creek at Third Beach (depending on the beach that year this may not be necessary) and for crossing Calvin Creek.
Calvin Falls to Beano Creek. All day is beach-walking. Beano Creek is sometimes dammed up by a sand/pebble dam built by wave action. When this is the case crossing Beano Creek doesn’t even involve getting your feet wet. When this is not the case, the crossing can be thigh-deep.
Beano Creek to Maquinna Point. This is the longest and most tiring day. Most of the day involves trails along cliffs and in + out of coves (up, down, up, down…). The cliff section at the end of “Beano beach” is not passable at some high-tides and has no bypass trail. Camping is at any one of the number of pocket beaches before and after Maquinna Point (some have water, some don’t).
Maquinna Point to Tidal Lagoon. This is a very nice short day of hiking and can be over before lunchtime. The tidal lagoon outflow can be a very easy (ankle-deep) wade (at low tide), or a swimming adventure (at high tide). The stretch of beach before the tidal lagoon has many small headlands. These are passable depending on the tide, but all have a bypass trail. If possible, always go around the headland rather then over it. Camping is anywhere along the beach between the tidal lagoon and Friendly Cove. You could also camp on the meadow at Friendly Cove (you have paid for one night here with your access fee). Water can be found in a small creek about half way between the tidal lagoon and Friendly Cove (a nice sea stack marks this spot)
Tidal Lagoon to Friendly Cove. This is a very short day and gives you a nice chance to sleep in. Once you arrive at Friendly Cove, take some time to look around. Visit the old church (now a small museum of sorts), the lighthouse, and the Captain Cook monument. Friendly Cove has a very important place in the history of British Columbia.