Tales From the Trail…
My first encounter with the Wild Pacific Trail was in February several years ago while in Tofino on a weekend getaway with my wife. I have walked the trail several times since, and each time it has been as spectacular as the first. We left the confines of our cozy beach front room at Pacific Sands Resort near Tofino and headed south to Uclulet. The day was a beautiful sunny blue but cold and windy.
The Wild Pacific Trail currently comprises three sections, the Lighthouse Loop, Brown’s Beach and the Big Beach section. The non profit Wild Pacific Trail Society, responsible for the trail development to date, is planning future phases that will extend the trail along the coast all the way to Pacific Rim National Park.
Wild Pacific Trail—Brown’s Beach Section
We decided to walk the Brown’s Beach section first. Starting at the Marine Drive parking lot just past the Black Rock Resort, we headed out onto a wide, beautifully constructed trail. Smoothly graded and surfaced with fine, well-drained gravel crush, the trail is suitable for users of all ages and abilities. Popular with locals, we passed a number of joggers, fellow walkers and those pushing strollers.
The trail is magical, winding its way around rocky headlands and through groves of mature coastal rainforest of cedar, spruce and fir. Along the trail, numerous lookouts with benches and sturdily constructed observation decks sit perched over the rocks. My camera battery was draining rapidly as I tried to capture the postcard perfect views around every corner.
The overlooks were a perfect spot to experience the immense power of the waves crashing against the rocks and spindrift and sea foam flying through the air. There were multiple places along the trail to get down to the beach and enjoy a picnic or relax in the sun, but you are warned to stay clear of the beach areas during storms or you may get more than you bargained for. Along the trail are a series of sections called Artist Loops. These contain smaller, hand-hewn paths that lead to overlooks and secret tree forts called Painter Perches.
We arrived at the westerly trail exit at the Pacific Rim Highway, and decided to walk in reverse back to the parking lot, although we could have walked the paved trail along the highway back to town. Part way along the Brown’s Bay trail you can take a detour that includes a forested section linking up with parking at the Forbes Road sports field. However, we decided to remain on the main trail so we would have time to do the Light House Loop.
Wild Pacific Trail—Lighthouse Loop
The trail from Phase I of this ambitious project – the Light House Loop – is a delightful 2.5 km track winding through gnarled forests and along rock bluffs. Liberally sprinkled along the trail, benches allow for a rest at good viewpoints. This loop does nicely with a visit to Amphitrite Lighthouse. Start your walk at the parking lot located mid-way up Coast Guard Road and walk the trail through the forest, which will pop out at the coast. Enjoy the beautiful views of Barkley Sound to the southeast before continuing along the trail to your right. Stay on the trail past the lighthouse and you will wrap around the point and back to the parking lot. This is a perfect trail for children. The views are spectacular, there is a lighthouse to explore, enchanted forests to cross, and wildlife to spy in the sea, on land and in the air. Expect to take 30 to 45 minutes to walk this loop.
We didn’t walk the shorter Big Beach section which is located to the east of the Blackrock Resort and contains a picnic area and of course a beach. However, the Big Beach and Brown’s Beach sections do link up by walking through the Blackrock Resort parking area. The beach itself can be accessed by walking through the resort and the Fetch Restaurant. Yes, they are friendly with walkers who do this!
This trail network is sure to become one of the island’s premier walking trails. It allows those of all ages and abilities to enjoy a rural west coast trail in a stunning setting and within city limits – but without the rigors of other trails such as the West Coast Trail or Juan de Fuca Trail. The Wild Pacific Trail should be on your list of must do activities during your visit to Tofino and Uclulet.
More information can be found at the official trail website.