Here it Comes….. the Trail Book Blog

The Vancouver Island Trail is a multi-use (foot, cycle, equestrian) non-motorized trail, that links communities and ecosystems along a 765 km long, north-south transect of Vancouver Island. It uses both new and existing trails and inactive and active logging roads.  At the start of 2018, it is still a work in progress with approximately 86% of it now complete.

For more details on the history of the trail, the organization’s Mission and Vision statements, recent newsletters and trail progress, and to become involved, please visit our website:

The purpose of this trail book is to describe in some detail the Trail as it exists today. Because the VI Trail is not yet complete, an online format that can be updated frequently has been chosen.

The Trail descriptions that follow are written by a variety of volunteers.  Some may have hiked the trail, some may have run or biked the trail and others may have ridden it on horseback.  Trail suitability is stated at the start of each section along with a one sentence description of the trail.  All trail descriptions were done using a template, so the information collected on each hike is consistent, however we have steered clear of “difficulty” ratings as the descriptions are done by different people and their interpretations would be subjective.  In addition, because the trail sections are done by different people, each description will have that person’s perspective.  That is, an engineer might provide many pictures of bridges, whereas someone with a botanical bend will probably focus on the plants along the trail.  The VI Trail is something different to everyone. 

Start and endpoints for a given trail section were determined by where a particular volunteer wanted to start and finish their hike. While these start and endpoints may not be suited to every trail user, it is easy to tie sections together by looking at contiguous reports.

Multi-Day Hikes, Backpacking and Camping (by Gil Parker)

Camp where you wish on the Vancouver Island Trail! But leave no trace of your camping. For specific information, check out for the latest accepted methods of low-impact, backcountry camping.

Following the accepted policy of the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), the psychological parent of the VI Spine Trail, the only designated camping areas will be those provided by BC Parks, private forestry companies, and perhaps regional or municipal parks near population centers. Sometimes these will be at the trailheads.

Part of this policy is that there will be reduced maintenance for the trail, and that there will be lessconcentrated wear on specific areas. Hikers that are just doing day hikes or trail runs won’t need campsites. However, through-hikers that need to stop between resupply or trail access locations, will want to stop overnight. They will normally choose a location not too far from a water source, usually in a clearing of the forest, or place with a good view. The beauty of this for long-distance hikers is that they can choose any location suitable to the length of the day’s efforts, rather than having to stop early or extend themselves too much.

Trail users will have to plan their day’s effort to suit their equipment and capability, as well as the amount of food and water they have brought with them, including food for the horses in the case of equestrians. All trail users will have to provide shelter suitable to the time of year and section of the trail. Some sections will be at high levels where snow may still be present. Rain, fog or wind may demand shelter anywhere. All trail users should be skilled in backcountry travel and be self-sufficient in any condition.

A word about conservation and care of the Trail. Needless to say, we do not build fires in the backcountry. We carry with us a small camp stove that uses white gas, or butane canisters, or even (as I have seen on the PCT) one using small twigs in a tomato soup can with a battery-powered fan in the bottom. It actually works well. Apart from fire, the other concern we have is for other users of the Trail.

Where do you go to the toilet if there is no toilet? Some solutions are given in a book:

“How to Shit in the Woods, 3rd Edition” available on around $12. Every camper should carry a small spade as a minimum. We all have to be concerned about the quality of water in our streams and lakes. So choose the place that you use for a toilet (or for your campsite) with that in mind. And equestrians, keep your horses away from the water, except while drinking.

The VI Spine Trail is a new trail in the process of being developed. Conditions may not be what you expect. The intent is to get a trail through the wilderness or “working forest” area without disturbing the subsoil or the timber. In some places, you may find pristine sections of trail, especially near population centers, but this will not indicate the condition in the backcountry. Be prepared for much more difficult terrain and slower travel speeds. With these few precautions we think you will find our Trail challenging, beautiful and inspirational.


Check out Trail Conditions before Your Trip

Checking the Trail Blog is also advised before you set out on a trip. Parts of the forest may be closed due to logging operations, road building or fire hazard. Bridges out due to flooding can also really affect your trip. So before you head out, check out the Blog  and the rest of the website as well as our Facebook page for the latest info.

Get Involved by Monitoring & Reporting Trail Conditions – Tell us About Your Experience!

Because the Trail changes on an on-going basis, due to windfalls, dead-fall, watercourse flows, logging operations and trail usage, we encourage you to post on the Blog when you find changed or unanticipated conditions that need attention.  Even if all is well, reach out and describe your latest adventure on the Trail.  Any information that you provide not only helps other users, but it also helps the land managers and private land owners that allow us to use the land and it helps Vista Volunteers to locate and to prioritize trail maintenance work. It also helps us to determine usage levels of various parts of the trail – not only where but by how many people.