The small fishing town of Ucluelet is the lesser known stop on the western side of Vancouver Island, as most visitors turn right at the junction and head straight to Tofino (40min away). While there are no surfing beaches, Ucluelet boasts beautiful walks and views, and is worth checking out on your visit. Here are some of the best walks in Ucluelet BC.
1. Lighthouse Loop
The Lighthouse Loop is the pride and joy of Ucluelet. If you only have time for one walk in the area, this one should be at the top of your list. The 2.6km (45-60min) walk is easy along a gravel path, with many great lookout points along the way including the active Amphitrite Lighthouse. In the winter it’s the best spot for storm watching, due to its proximity to the waves. The Lighthouse Loop is part of the Wild Pacific Trail, but keep in mind it is not connected to the other trail, you need to drive in between.
How to get there: Drive straight through Ucluelet on the main road (Peninsula Rd) and turn right onto Coast Guard Dr. Along this road on the left there is a parking lot to start the trail. If you’re limited on time you can drive straight past the parking lot. This will take you to a parking lot at the end of the road, that leads you straight to the lighthouse so you can skip the walk.
2. Wild Pacific Trail
This 8.8km trail is a lot like the Lighthouse Loop, with easy gravel paths and lots of great views of the wild rocky coastline, and look out benches along the way. If you’re feeling adventurous stray off the path onto the large rocks when there are openings to the beach. There are plenty of great tide pools to explore. Whales can also be spotted from this trail during certain times of the year.
How to get there: The Wild Pacific Trail has multiple starting points, including Big Beach or the parking lot before Black Rock Resort (Past Big Beach on Marine Dr). Alternatively you can start from the other end of the trail, starting with the Artist’s Loop (Park on the side of the road before you enter town where the WPT signs are). This trail includes the short Ancient Cedars Loop as well, a chance to see massive old growth cedars.
3. Willowbrae Trails (Halfmoon Bay and South Florencia Bay)
Drive a little bit of town to find a couple trails down to some great beaches. The flat and easy gravel path through the forest is only 15min (1.2km) until you reach the fork in the trail.
If you head straight down the steep stairs it will take you to South Florencia Bay. From the fork to the beach it is only 3min (200m – and ya, I timed it for you). If you want to extend your walk you can stroll along the long beach towards North Flo before turning around.
My personal favourite beach though, is the trail to the left. It’s 8min (500m) from the fork to the beach, and also goes down a steep set of stairs. The end result is a beautiful and protected smaller beach called Halfmoon Bay. On sunny days, the water here is an inviting tropical green. We love exploring the rocks at low tide, they’re full of anemones, sea urchins, and sea stars.
How to get there: As you drive along Peninsula Rd, turn left (if coming from Ukee, or right if you’re coming from the junction) down Willowbrae Rd. Take this short gravel road to the parking lot. This is the only parking lot in Ukee where you will need a Parks Pass in summer. (You will also need one if you continue towards Tofino and stop anywhere in the Pacific Rim National Park).
4. Mt Ozzard
Bet you didn’t see this hike on any of your tourist guides. This one is a local secret, there are no signs to show you how to get there. It’s about a 1.5hr hike to the summit, with a 570m elevation gain, and about 12km (round trip). The summit provides some stunning views of Ucluelet, the Broken Group Islands and Pacific Rim National Park. There are two ways to hike up the mountain: (1) through the switchback logging road…boring, but also easier. (2) Through a more challenging (seldomly used) bike trail through the forest on the left side of the road at the beginning. You can see Mt Ozzard from town (on clear days). It’s the one across the harbour with the giant golf ball radar tower on top. Make sure you do this hike on a clear day!
How to get there: Drive along the main road out of Ucluelet and turn right onto Port Albion Rd. Eventually, take a left onto a gravel road, there will be a sign in the trees for Salmon Beach (before the Fish Hatchery). At the T intersection, continue to the right, and later take a left at the fork. This will lead you up a small hill (4WD miiight be required here due to loose rocks). Park when you see a yellow gate on your right. The road on the other side of the gate is the way up the mountain.
Interested in more hikes in the area? Read my post about the Best hikes in the Pacific Rim National Park in nearby Tofino, or the more challenging Triple Peak and 5040 hike located between Ucluelet and Port Alberni.