Nootka Trail, British Columbia
Walk the wild west side of the Canadian coast.
This 21-mile coastal trek is no longer a total secret–indeed, there’s even a guidebook–but it still gets remarkably few visitors, thanks to difficult access and frequent harsh weather. The challenges: You’ll have to plan each day to avoid getting stranded by tides; you’ll clamber over slippery boulders and through punishing devil’s club; rogue waves threaten; and river crossings can be dangerous after storms. (Camp on the far side of creeks in case they rise overnight.)
The rewards: Nootka Island’s wild scenery, a moody shipwreck at Tongue Point, isolated coves where waterfalls plunge into tide pools, ancient village sites, and thrilling glimpses of black bears and gray whales. For an end-to-end hike from north to south, charter a floatplane in Gold River and fly to Louie Bay Lagoon ($164 CDN per person for a party of four; airnootka.com), then trek southeast to the native village of Yuquot and catch the Uchuck III ferry back to your starting point ($40 CDN; mvuchuck.com).
Guidebook Hiking the West Coast of Vancouver Island, by Tim Leadem ($17, Greystone Books)
Permits The Mowachaht/Muchalaht First Nation charges a $40 CDN user fee at Yuquot.