Hiking the Wild Pacific Trail in Ucluelet, Vancouver Island
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!
Nature in Canada is so stunning.
I really want to explore the area around Vancouver one day.
we should go to Vancouver together 😉
Vancouver Island is one of the most beautiful places in the world for being outdoors! I’ve biked around the island and I’m always stunned at the greenery. However, I’ve never actually hiked it and after seeing your pictures, I know I’ll need to add that to my list when I go home.
Stunning post. I’ve hiked a bit in the area, and like you, the West Coast Trail is a dream of mine to complete. (I need to get into serious training to do it!!)
I really enjoyed reading about your experience, and your photos are beautiful. Well done for not getting eaten by a bear!
This looks like the perfect way to while away a few hours. I spent some time in Vancouver but never made it out of the city. Clearly this was an error!
I love the way that nature is often so unpredictable, it highlights that as humans, we can not control everything no matter how hard we try. I love the sound of Vancouver Island – whalewatching, ziplining and hiking – an adventure seeker’s ideal.
Ooooh this sounds amazing! W’re in the process of planning a roadtrip through British Columbia and Vancouver for next year so will have to tag this on my itinerary! Thanks!
This sounds like the perfect sort of trail, not too difficult and plenty to see 🙂
We just spend a couple of days in Vancouver at the end of October and absolutely LOVED it there. Unfortunately we didn’t have time to head over explore the Wild Pacific Trail or Vancouver Island but we will definitely add this to our bucket list for our next trip to BC. Such amazing scenery in this part of Canada also.
Makes me so proud to be Canadian! I have yet to visit Vancouver unfortunately but I must make my way out this way.
Wow–looks like such a gorgeous area! The Lighthouse Loop sounds like a great spot for a short hike when you are limited on time, but the other trails look great too! Curious what that noise was–sounds spooky!
Rouven @ yarnsofwhalesandsnow.com
I’m going to Vancouver Island in August and I’m so excited. There’s so much to do and see and everything looks so stunning. The Wild Pacific Trail is definitely on my list 😀
Vancouver Island is great! I plan on doing another post soon, but don’t forget to visit Strathcona, it’s unique and wild!
Jessica @ Green Global Travel
Wow, this is such a beautiful landscape! I would love to visit Vancouver Island, and I’ll definitely keep this trail in mind for the future. (I couldn’t help laughing at the part where it rained after you refused to bring your rain gear; that sounds like something I would do.) Great photos!
Thanks Jessica. Hope you can make it over to Vancouver Island one day, it’s really gorgeous!
Tag Along Deb
Perfect timing for this post. I’m spending two days on Vancouver Island next week, staying in Sooke. Seeing your photos, I’m now totally stoked for our trip!
I only got around the replying now because we were really busy launching our new site. I hope you’re having a really good time in Sooke, it’s such an amazing and super quiet place. Enjoy!
I wanted to do the West Coast Trail from the time I was 14 on the prairies. I finally did it two years ago at 58; seven days and 50 miles of mud – it was wonderful. The Wild Pacific Trail is the WCT in microcosm. Get busy with your bucket list.
Yes, me too! I can’t wait to do it some day, will keep it in mind for sure for the future!