The Wild Pacific Trail is a popular Uclulet coastal hike that is a truly fantastic way to experience the rugged west coast of Vancouver Island. The trail, championed by Uclulet fishermen "Oyster" Jim Martin, currently covers over 8 kilometers of shoreline as well as a few kilometers of inland trails, and there are currently plans to extend it to connect with Halfmoon Bay and the Pacific Rim National Park trail network. Martin’s vision was to provide locals and visitors with a free public trail that provided an opportunity to experience this beautiful coastline and temperate rainforest while employing the most eco-friendly trail building techniques to avoid adversely affecting the incredible landscapes. The trail’s continued development relies on public support through the Wild Pacific Trail Society as well as government funding and cooperation from private landowners and First Nations land where parts of the trail are located. For his efforts, Oyster Jim was awarded the B.C. Community Achievement Award in 2016.
Following the creation of the Wild Pacific Trail Society in 1999, the first section of the trail that was built was the Lighthouse Loop, a casual stroll around the tip of the Uclulet Peninsula that boasts incredible ocean views of the beautiful rocky and rugged shoreline, and a short offshoot leading to nearby Terrace Beach. At just 2.6 kilometers and almost completely flat (not including the Terrace Beach section), it’s a quick 45-minute walk, but many visitors take much longer while enjoying the views. The trail is well-built, consists of crushed gravel, and has no stairs, so it is accessible to strollers and wheelchairs so long as they are designed to go off-road. One of the highlights of the trail is the opportunity to visit the Amphitrite Lighthouse, which has guided passing vessels since 1906 following the deadly shipwreck of the Pass of Melfort. In fact, throughout history many boats have sunk in these treacherous waters, where the powerful Pacific Ocean swells from the north crash against the jagged rocks. As such, the trail is especially popular with storm watchers during the winter months, when the swells can reach heights of 10 meters or more and the ocean really puts on a show. It’s important to keep in mind that the ocean can be very unpredictable, and venturing out onto the rocks beside the trail could lead to disaster should a rogue wave hit the shore, which can happen at any time of year.
There are also many opportunities to see marine wildlife along the trail including seals, sea lions, otters, or perhaps some of the 20,000 whales that migrate past this area each year during the spring and fall. Bald eagles are a staple of the wild coast, and over 300 migratory bird species pass through the area each year. Interpretive signs along the trail provide educational information regarding the lighthouse itself, as well as the history of the area and local Yuu-tluth-aht First Nation people.
To support the Wild Pacific Trail Society, visit their website.