Driving directions to Nitinaht Lake & shuttle information
Nitinaht Lake is located on the west coast of Vancouver Island, and is part of the traditional territory of the Ditidaht People. You can get here by car or bus. Details and directions to Nitinaht Lake below. Make sure to check out our FAQs page for tips ranging from trip planning to ‘leave no trace’ camping.
Leg 1: to Cowichan Lake
From Victoria: 92km drive north on Highway 1, and take a left turn at Highway 18 (just north of Duncan BC).
From Nanaimo: 72km drive south on Highway 1, and take a right turn at Highway 18.
Leg 2: to Nitinaht Lake
FROM LAKE COWICHAN – 62km. Start by making sure you are driving on the north side of the lake towards Youbou (12 km). After Youbou, the pavement turns in to a dirt road that is also an active logging road. The best speed to travel along this stretch is 50 to 60km to have time to avoid the potholes and pull well over to let the huge logging trucks pass – and the dust they stir up settle.
Follow the little arrow signs to Nitinaht (Ditidaht). At the western end of Lake Cowichan (Heather campsite), you’ll make a right turn, and then a left turn a little ways down the road at a major T-Junction. At this point you’re only 10 minutes or so from the tip of the Nitinaht Lake and the home of the Ditidaht People. Drive slowly past the motel, through the village (after you’ve stopped for gas and supplies at the store), and then take a right at the sign for Nitinaht Campsite.
Backroad driving tips: know before you go
Make sure your spare tire is in good shape and inflated, and that you have tire-changing gear. Also make sure your windshield wipers work and your fluids are all topped up (gas, oil and windshield). More tips here: https://www.vancouverislandnorth.ca/about-the-north-island/know-before-you-go/
Catching the shuttle bus to Nitinaht Lake
Nitinaht Lake Express provides hikers shuttle service from the 3rd Entrance at Nitinaht Lake to the Junction. This service connects with the West Coast Trail Express. Chartered services are also available to and from Bamfield, Port Renfrew, Port Alberni, Duncan, Nanaimo & Victoria.
Contact [email protected] West Coast Trail Express Inc. provides shuttle bus service (May 1 to September 30) from Victoria and Nanaimo to the three trail entrances (Bamfield, Nitinaht Lake and Port Renfrew). More details at http://www.trailbus.com.