Wild Pacific Trail: Vancouver Island’s Rugged and Beautiful Coastal Route

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Rugged black rock coastline, pebbly beaches and an abundance of wildlife – there’s a good reason the Wild Pacific Trail is consistently voted one of the top attractions in Canada.

Divided into two sections currently, the first section of the Wild Pacific Trail is the ‘Lighthouse Loop’. Measuring 2.6 km, this section of the trail is a popular choice with day-trippers and families and is situated around the Pacific Rim National Park. My trip started at the Terrace Beach side trail, where rockpool watching and wildlife spotting can be enjoyed by everyone, not just humans:

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The trail then connects to the main section of the Wild Pacific Trail, a winding route of small inclines guiding you through dense rainforest and coastal lookout points. If you time your visit right, it is possible to see whales spouting off into the distance.

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The coastline around the Wild Pacific Trail is nicknamed the ‘Graveyard of the Pacific’, given due to the large number of shipwrecks along its rocky shore. After seeing some of the epic storms and sharp rocks along its steep coastline, I started to understand how easily a ship could stray to these shores. It also meant I spent some time hunting the beaches for gold dubloons – you never know!

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The main attraction of the Lighthouse Loop is obviously in the name. Amphitrite Lighthouse is a modest-looking lighthouse compared to some of its counterparts in the rest of Canada, but for some reason it instead attracts animals and visitors. A herd of deer were snacking on its lawn, and seals are frequently spotted lounging on the rocks next to the lighthouse.

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The Wild Pacific Trail continues a few miles down the road, at Big Beach. Like most names of landmarks on the Wild Pacific Trail, Big Beach is not technically ‘big’ per se. Instead, it is the ‘biggest’ beach out of several located along the trail.

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This main section of the trail is divided into several sections: Brown’s Beach to Artist Loops, and Ancient Cedars to Rocky Bluffs. Forget notions of an art gallery hidden in the woods though, as the Artist Loops actually contains numerous scenic viewpoints where artists and photographers can paint or snap the landscape at particularly scenic sections of the trail. Even if you are like me and your portfolio of artwork consists of stick men, the scenic viewpoints are stunning enough to make anyone stop and appreciate.

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The Ancient Cedars to Rocky Bluffs section of the Wild Pacific Trail features ancient siktas and red cedar trees over 800 years old. Considering these trees have withstood tsunamis, gale-force winds and storms for hundreds of years, it is a marvel to be able to walk amongst them still today. Plus, they make this section of the trail smell wonderful.

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The Rocky Bluffs section of the Wild Pacific Trail is the newest addition to this route, and is only 1.5 km in length. The creator of the Wild Pacific Trail, ‘Oyster Jim’ highlights that this part of the trail is the perfect spot for storm watching. Despite the skies being calm and blue during our hike, the enormous waves crashing against the cliff was enough drama to give us an idea of the excitement of a good ol’ storm sesh.

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Visitor Information for the Wild Pacific Trail

Sometimes storms can damage the trails, or sections can be inaccessible depending on wildlife seasons. Visitors are advised to check the website before visiting for details.

There is no public transport to the Wild Pacific Trail, but there are parking spaces aplenty. For lunch, drinks and snacks, Ucluelet has options to match every taste bud and wallet; my favourites was Hanks BBQ for plates piled high with fresh seafood and slow-cooked meat.

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For coffee, a pitstop at Wreckage is a must. Part-time coffee shop and part-time vinyl record/eco-friendly gift store, Wreckage is a magpie’s dream.

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For hikers needing some extra energy in the form of sugar, then pay a visit to Zoe’s Bakery and Cafe. Not only do they make a mean cup of coffee, the smell of freshly baked pastries, cookies and pasties is enough to entice anyone inside its doors.

If you decide to extend your stay, or want to enjoy those views of the Wild Pacific Trail in comfort, then head to the Black Rock Resort. All rooms feature a balcony or patio, and their bar terrace is the ideal spot to gaze at the ocean.

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