Wild Side Trail
by Adam Buskard, Tofino
Wrapping around the southeast corner of Flores Island, connecting the
village of Ahousaht to its outside beaches is the Wildside Heritage
Trail. This 11 km trail has been used by the Nuu-chah-nulth for many
generations and thanks to the amazing work that they have done it will
be around for many more.
The path of the trail follows a course that it is rich in natural
wonders and cultural significance. It begins from the village of Ahousaht
sits protected inside a deep harbour on the east side of Flores island,
a 45 minute boat ride from Tofino. The trail follows the coast, stopping
periodically at points of interest such as spiritually significant
locations, battlegrounds from first nation conflicts of the 1800's
and culturally modified trees. There are a score of beaches that the
trail touches as it heads westward, each one of them with an ancient
story of it's own. For interpretation of these points be sure
to get yourself a guidebook or even better a First Nations Guide to
elaborate. The last beach is Cow Bay and then the trail turns inland
and follows Cow Creek to the peak of Mount Flores sitting at 900 meters.
The revival of this ancient path began in 1993 when a group of Ahouhaht
women formed Walk the Wildside with the intent of promoting the trail
as an eco-tourism destination. An initial investment of time, sweat
and a little marketing and the Wild Side Heritage Trail was open for
business, Quickly tales of the stunning beaches, deep forest tunnels
and wild life that was truly wild swept through the hiking community
of the west coast. Thousands made the trip and effects were felt both
positively financially and unfortunately negatively on the land. The
trail had begun to deteriorate by the mid 1990's, there was concern
within the Ahousaht elders as to amount of damage that could be done
to the environment and to culturally sensitive spots. This was addressed
and it was decided that a proper trail with boardwalks, bridges and
other forms of engineered support was needed. The work began in 1996
under the management of a joint venture between the Ahousaht Band Council
and the Western Canadian Wilderness Committee. It took a group of 25
native and non-native youth and workers 7 months to compete the work.
There is a $20 per person fee that goes to the maintenance of the
trail. Registration is at the Wildside Trail office which is located
just above the Hydro dock in Ahousaht. For more information call
" Choosing the route was not an easy process. The Elders,
Hereditary Chiefs and Band Council gave this matter a great deal
of thought and
attention. It was extremely important to the people of Ahousaht to
choose a route that would show off the natural wonders of Ahousaht
while safeguarding the environment and historical records from damage
by well-meaning hikers."
Sid Sam Sr.
Ahousaht First Nations
Tofino hiking: The Wild Side Trail on Flores Island follows the coast between the First Nations village of Ahousaht to Cow Bay and to the peak Mount Flores.