A Guide to Hiking Vancouver Island’s Wild Pacific Trail

Wild Pacific Trail vistas
Wild Pacific Trail vistas | © David Abercrombie / Flickr

Located in Ucluelet on Vancouver Island’s west coast, TripAdvisor named the Wild Pacific Trail the top attraction in British Columbia (and one of the top 10 attractions in Canada) in 2016. It’s a popular walking route for visitors and residents alike. Keep reading to learn more about the Wild Pacific Trail’s beginnings and its different paths.

A brief history of the Wild Pacific Trail

“Oyster Jim” Martin is the man behind the creation of the Wild Pacific Trail on Vancouver Island. He approached the local council twice—in 1988 and 1996—before finally getting approval to construct the trails. The Wild Pacific Trail has three sections: the Lighthouse Loop, the Brown’s Beach to Artist Loops section, and the Ancient Cedars and Rocky Bluffs routes.
The Lighthouse Loop was the first portion constructed, which took place in 1999. Martin called the Wild Pacific Trail a diamond in the rough, which he had the pleasure of polishing into the trail that thousands of people walk along today. He also told The Globe and Mail that it’s a world treasure that should be the eighth wonder of the world.

Views from Lighthouse Loop

Barbara Schramm, the Wild Pacific Trail Society’s president, said the trail couldn’t have happened without Martin. “It’s a miracle he was able to bring all those people together to create a free public use trail which crosses federal, provincial, private, district, park, and First Nations lands.”

The Lighthouse Loop is a 2.6-kilometer (1.6-mile) loop that takes people through the rainforest to the rugged and rocky coastline for which Ucluelet is known. There are views of both Barkley Sound and Amphitrite Lighthouse along the way. This loop is also a great place to capture stunning sunset photos and to whale-watch during spring migration.
Next is Brown’s Beach to Artist Loops, a 2.75-kilometer (1.7-mile) section. The trail cuts through the forest and includes oceanside vistas, which are visible from the new viewing decks and painter’s perches. There are small hills and stairs to this section, so it’s slightly more challenging than the Lighthouse Loop. Visitors can also begin this section at Big Beach, which is a child-friendly picnic area and accessible beach.

Wild Pacific Trail vistas

Finally, the Ancient Cedar section is a one-kilometer (0.6-mile) loop off the Rocky Bluffs coastal trail. The rainforest trail is home to western hemlock, Sitka spruce, and giant red cedar trees. The Rocky Bluffs is a three-kilometer (1.8-mile) return track along the coastline, which has incredible views. People will pass the protected sea lion pool, as well as an eagle sentry point. Martin says this is a fantastic place for storm watching from October to April. The Wild Pacific Trail Society’s website has a comprehensive map with directions, for when you decide to tackle this famous trail on Vancouver Island yourself.

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