Hiking the Wild Pacific Trail in Ucluelet, Vancouver Island
Imagine you have just a couple of hours to spend at the coastline of western Vancouver Island, before you have to head back to the mainland of British Columbia, where new adventures are waiting for you. What would you do? So much to see, so much to do! Having been exposed to this dilemma earlier this year, I can tell you those few hours are best spent on hiking Ucluelet’s Wild Pacific Trail.
The day before my hike I arrived on Vancouver Island and guess what … it is sunny: not your typical Vancouver Island weather! Upon arrival on the west coast, the first thing I do is head out to Tofino’s Long Beach. While the waves are crashing onto the shore and the wind is blowing through my hair, I’m amazed by the amount of driftwood that found its way to this famous beach. I sit down and close my eyes, listen to the screaming seagulls and enjoy the smell of the ocean. I’m already in love with this place.
That night when I’m trying to get some sleep (I’m jetlagged once again) I am being kept awake by a harrowing sound. I have no clue what it is and eventually, after rolling from one side to the other and back again, I fall asleep. When I wake up the next morning it’s raining. No wait, it’s storming! Normally I’d be sad for a grey and rainy day but hey, this is Vancouver Island, one of the best places in the world for storm watching!
After breakfast I make my way over to the trailhead to start hiking the Wild Pacific Trail. The part of the trail I chose is the 2.6 km long Lighthouse Loop, a relatively easy track that can be done in about 45 minutes. The first part of the walk takes me through a rainforest and even though I’m not the only one on the trail, I keep my eyes out for bears. Just make noise and let them know you’re there should keep them away… Once I get to the shore, I’m amazed. What is going on there, is just magic: no more blue skies, just a mystic and grey landscape with lots of massive waves. I sit down on a log stare into the distance, at the mountains on the other side of the inlet. That’s where the real wilderness is waiting for me. One day I’ll make it over to the challenging West Coast Trail, a longtime dream of mine.
As I continue walking along the shore, the waves keep on crashing. Around every corner a new panorama comes up and while I’m getting closer to the Amphitrite Lighthouse, I hear last night’s sound again. It gives me the creeps, yet I’m happy to have found out where it comes from: right from the waves behind the lighthouse.
While I’m at the lighthouse, it starts raining again. Heck, I was too stubborn to bring my rain gear, while I knew it was going to rain all along. Oh well, a bit of water won’t hurt and only makes the experience more intense. Signposts warn me to stay on the trail and watch out for waves! According to the host of the B&B I stayed at last night, it occurs that waves larger than the lighthouse itself crash into it. Unfortunately, it’s not storm season (generally, this is from October till April) but I’m still speechless nonetheless, witnessing this incredible force of nature.
Way too fast I finish hiking the Wild Pacific Trail and I’m back at the car. I would have loved to hike the other section of the trail but unfortunately, there’s no time. While on my way back to the mainland and enjoying the sunshine on the deck of the ferry, I am pondering about my time on Vancouver Island. I saw a black bear along the roadside, stepped onto Long Beach in the sun, went whalewatching, did a zipline and drove for hours and hours on roads that are hardly used by tourists. However what made the the biggest impression on me, were those 45 minutes hiking the Wild Pacific Trail. Because even though the trail was easy, the landscape was nothing but wild. The best wild I could have hoped for…
Things that could be useful when planning to walk:
– I hiked the Lighthouse Loop, just a bit further down is another section of the trail, a 5 km walk (one way) from Big Beach to Rocky Bluffs. The trail starts right outside of Ucluelet, located on Vancouver Island’s west coast.
– There’s plenty of parking space, however I traveled in May and can’t guarantee it won’t be full in high season.
– If you’re looking for a place to sleep, I’d recommend staying at Horizon’s West B&B. The views from the deck are just stunning, the breakfast is plenty and the host is super friendly. Another nice yet cheaper option is the Canadian Princess Lodge.
– For a great yet not too expensive meal, go to the Float House. Their burgers are among the best I’ve ever had (and believe me, I eat A LOT of burgers…)
– For more information on the Wild Pacific Trail, go to the official website.
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– Fall foliage on the Dempster Highway
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Thanks for sharing!