Take a Walk on the Wild Side: The Wild Pacific Trail in Ucluelet
by Todd D. Haynes, Tofino
Cold"! Dark, damp, and cold, seem to be the thoughts foremost in my mind at this time. It's winter in Clayoquot Sound, so at 6:30 am, it's still dark. But today is a special day. Today holds promise for one of the most spectacular daily occurrences I know... "Sunrise!" Not just any sunrise, but sunrise on the Pacific Ocean.
Just a ten minute drive south of the Tofino/Ucluelet junction lays one of the most precious, and most under used recreational areas in this region: The Wild Pacific Trail. This morning I am going to take some sunrise pictures from "Amphitrite Point" (or Lighthouse Point, as it is also known). It is one of my favourite places on the whole of the west coast of Canada. It lies on the Wild Pacific Trail.
Phase 1 of the Wild Pacific Trail is the 2.7 km loop on the southernmost tip of the district of Ucluelet. It begins at the parking lot on the corner of Peninsula- and Coast Guard Road, and should take you forty to fifty minutes to walk, if you don't stop for too long to enjoy the sights. This parking area is easy to miss, so you must look with keen eyes to find it.
Within minutes of the parking lot you leave the 'bustling metropolis' of Ucluelet behind, and you are face to face with the churning coastline that has brought smiles to travellers and wrinkled brows to sailors for centuries. The trail itself is peppered with wonderful vistas where the hiker can rest on the provided benches, and safely enjoy the ever-changing ocean. Each step of the winding path brings new sights and sounds. As you make your way towards Amphitrite Pointe, you start to get stunning views of Barkley Sound and the Broken Group Islands to the south. Every turn brings with it a new dimension to the trail. While the ocean side offers ever-changing seascapes, don't forget to look into the forest from time to time. The trail was hand hewn out of a latticework of knurled and twisted old growth forest. It offers an amazing canopy of intertwined tree trunks and branches that will give you pause and pleasure.
Proceed towards Amphitrite Point and the forest gives way to open rock and open views. On days when the sea is active, the waves here thunder into the shore in a grand display of nature's power and beauty. One just has to just sit, breathe, and take it all in.
When you are finally able to tear yourself away from the open waves of the point, just wander a few hundred meters north and the trail transforms again. As you near He-Tin-Kis Park, experience a sense of calm as the trail meanders past sheltered coves, and back into the rainforest. The next leg is a wonderful bit of boardwalk trail that offers occasional rest & lookout stations to help you enjoy each changing perspective of the park. While the trail to this point is relatively flat and gravel groomed, this section has a few stairs (up and down), and is not the easiest to navigate for those with special needs. There is a fork-in-the-road as you access the boardwalk, and here one must choose (not a metaphor) between the shorter route through the heart of the park's forest, or the slightly longer path along Terrace Beach. Both are great options, and each offers its own reward.
After fifteen minutes on the boardwalk trail you emerge at a parking lot, but not 'your' parking lot. Here you are directly behind Terrace Beach Resort, and must decide; 'Will I turn left and take the two minute stroll along the path to Terrace Beach?' or 'Should I proceed to Peninsula Road, turn right and walk the two hundred meters along the roads shoulder to where we started?' or 'Should I turn one hundred and eighty degrees and see what I might have missed coming the other way?' The choice is yours.
As mentioned above, this is Phase 1 of the trail. The next stage of the trail is now complete and is known as the 'Big Beach to Bike Path' leg of the trail. It follows a linear path (as opposed to a loop), and is approximately 8.5 km long. If all goes well, the next incarnation of the trail should see it extended another 14 km, and connect with Long Beach in the Pacific Rim National Park.
Thanks to the vision and endless efforts of 'Oyster' Jim Martin, many volunteers and sponsors, the Wild Pacific Trail is nothing short of a 'Treasure' that should be experienced again and again by residents and visitors alike.
Relatively new to Tofino, Todd works as a Concierge at the Wickaninnish Inn (He is very proud). He is also the Director of Sponsorship, Tofino, for the 22nd annual Pacific Rim Whale Festival
The Wild Pacific Trail in Ucluelet, BC is treasure to be enjoyed by residents and visitors alike. Todd Haynes, concierge at the Wickaninnish Inn in Tofino describes his experience on Phase 1 of the trail.