As much as I love hiking, some days I don’t particularly feel like clambering over twisted roots and navigating treacherous boulder fields. However, walking through a manicured park or worse…through a city…is not my idea of relaxation. Times like these call for compromise and on Vancouver Island, the Wild Pacific Trail is perfect. A wide, fairly maintained trail that winds its way through tall trees and near pounding sea surf gives you enough of an illusion of going for an adventure while not making you work very hard for it.
The Wild Pacific Trail is located in Ucluelet, on the western side of Vancouver Island, Canada. The trail is about 9km in length, so it definitely would not take all day to do it. But if you take your time, live in the moment, and perhaps take a picnic, it can take you a few hours to do. The trail is very family friendly to the point where if you have one of those SUV strollers, you can even take Jr with you for most of it. However, when we went, we mostly had the whole thing to ourselves which was fantastic.
The drama of the coastline will trigger your imagination, your artistic instincts, and your adventurous spirit. There are several interpretive signs, however, that remind you that this drama (especially during a storm) has its tragic side. For example, along the Lighthouse Loop portion of the trail (the lighthouse there is 100 years old), there are shipwrecks, such as the Pass of Melfort, hidden under the churning waters. She was a ship that had been the length of seven school buses. It sank in 1905, killing everyone on board, all within sight of the shore. The other sad thing is that this is just one of many hundreds of shipwrecks that lie along this coastline of Vancouver Island which is also known as the Graveyard of the Pacific.
Artist Loop and Ancient Cedars are two other loops well worth wandering. Closer to the coast, you’ll find windswept treelines and individual trees bent into fantastic shapes. Further inland, you’ll find thick canopies overhead and tall tall trees that can be over 800 years old. Especially if you have the area to yourself and it’s quiet, you can positively feel the natural history here. If you’re in the area, I suggest starting your walk a couple hours before sunset – the light is just phenomenal and you’ll also be able to see amazing sunsets highlighting the crashing waves.