Nootka Island Itinerary

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 (“the place where the deer come from”). The Mowachaht were convinced by the Department of Indian Affairs to relocate to A’haminaquus at the mouth of the Gold River in the late 1960s for administrative, social and economic reasons. Regardless of their new village, Yuquot continues to remain their traditional home.

This is a coastal hike with the terrain switching between temperate rain forest (trail with some muddy sections, roots, rocky sections ) and beach (gravel, rock, hard, and loose sand, slippery sections of boulders and shelf.).

Hiking Distance
Hiking distances average 10 km per day. We usually begin hiking at 9am, take breaks, lazy lunches (weather permitting), and look to get into camp around 4-5 in the afternoon. We are a NoTraceCamping company.

Level of Difficulty
The trip is open to people of all abilities; however, it requires physical endurance and psychological stamina. Participants should prepare by executing an exercise program coupled with some walking or running or cycling. We provide a conditioning program to assist hikers to prepare for the physical demands of the Nootka Trail.

The weather is characteristic of a marine temperate climate. It is very changeable with heavy rainfall possible even in July, August, September and likely in April, May,&June. Rainfall averages 120cm per year; summer temperature average is 14 degrees Celsius (57 F). Heavy morning fog is very common, especially in July and August. 

Group Size and Composition
The maximum group size is 10, two of whom are guides.  Each group consists of people of various ages, backgrounds, and abilities. People come by themselves or with family/friends. The youngest can be 13 and the oldest in their 70s. We would need to be comfortable that, at either end, the hiker is capable of hiking the Nootka Trail.

Our guides are highly trained and accredited leaders. They are committed to providing our guests with the best in wilderness adventure, while always focusing on safety. Our guides meet strict national and provincial park standards before they are licensed to guide on our behalf. 

This is a camping trip. At night you will sleep in a top of the line tent. Typically, tenting is double occupancy and partners are arranged by gender. You are welcome to bring your own tent but you should contact our office to ascertain the suitability of your tent to the environment.  Bathroom facilities will range from outhouses to wilderness sanitation practices.

The food we bring is plentiful, nutritious, and primarily vegetarian (because this keeps better than meat). Food is divided and carried by participants. You can expect meals to be varied, and delicious: burritos, rice, pasta, and vegetable stir-fry for dinner; bagels and sandwiches for lunch; oatmeal, and granola for breakfast. Beverages include herbal and regular tea, coffee, hot chocolate, cider. If you have special dietary restrictions or preferences, we can handle most requirements.

We will supply you with a list of outdoor clothing and articles you will need. We supply all the group equipment including kitchen, water filters, tents, and bad weather cover. All you need to provide is your personal gear, such as clothing and a sleeping bag. A detailed equipment list will be sent to you upon confirmation of your participation. We do rent packs and sleeping bags/pads for a nominal charge (cleaning).


  • Food: We supply all the food for the hiking portion of your trip. Meals in transit are your responsibility.
  • Arrival in Departure City: You should be here at least one day before Day 1.
  • Campsites: Our pace, weather, and circumstances will determine where we will camp each night. The good news is that all campsites are on the beach. 

Day 0:  Arrival in Vancouver/Nanaimo/Comox. This denotes the day or days spent in Vancouver/Nanaimo/Comox before the listed start date of the trip. There are direct flights to Comox on Vancouver Island. If traveling from Vancouver, you will be required to take the BC Ferry from Horseshoe Bay to Nanaimo ( all travel arrangements for meet up will be included in our registration package).

Calvin Falls

Day 1:   We will meet at the BC Ferry terminal in Nanaimo or your accommodation in Nanaimo or Comox. We will then drive to Gold River on the west side of Vancouver Island and take a floatplane flight out to Nootka Island. A short hike will bring us to our first camp on the coast.

Days 2-5:  There is rain forest, beautiful sandy beaches, headlands, waterfalls during our hike. We will hike, on average, about 10 km per day. We also have the luxury of a potential layover day, determined by the weather, our pace, our group decision. Every campground offers a good excuse to slow down and get our bodies attuned to “Island Time”.

Day 5/6: We will arrive at Friendly Cove on either of the 2 days. Friendly Cove was named by Capt Cook during his visit in the 1700s. It is the ancestral home of the Mowachat people, who have lived here for 1000s of years.

Day 6: Today we will say good-bye to Nootka Island. We will catch a water-taxi from Friendly Cove and then retrace our steps from Gold River back to Nanaimo/Comox.

What is included in the Cost
  • Travel from Nanaimo/Comox to and from the trailhead..
  • First Nations water taxi service from Friendly Cove to Gold River.
  • Camping equipment such as water filters, stoves, fuel, weather tarps, pots/pans, and tents.
  • All food while hiking, including snacks/beverages.
  • Any camping fees.
  • Charter flight from Gold River to Nootka Island
  • Major first aid supplies
  • Satellite phone

What is excluded in the Cost

  • Transportation to the origin of the trip.
  • Airport or other transfers
  • Accommodation
  • Food other than is included in the itinerary
  • Personal camping equipment noted on our packing list (i.e. backpack, sleeping bag, sleeping pad – can be rented from us)

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