It’s more than a hike. This seasonal, rustic and sometimes challenging trail offers a window into the cultural history of the Ahousaht First Nations on Flores Island.
Flores Island is situated 20 kilometres north of Tofino and can be accessed by a 40 minute water taxi ride or 20 minute seaplane flight. What makes this trail different, aside from its remote location and beaches on which you may be tempted to daydream all day, is that it offers the opportunity to witness the setting of a community that has survived for thousands of years.
This 11 kilometre (one way) hike follows the traditional circuit used by the Ahousaht people to access the white sand beaches on the island’s west side. While parts of it can be explored in one day, an overnight stay is recommended for those who want the round-trip walk – or hike – on the Wild Side.
Ahousaht is situated within the Clayoquot Sound UNESCO Biosphere and is translated from Nuu-chah-nulth to “people living with their backs to the land and mountains on a beach along the open sea.” Originally restored in the 1990s, the Wild Side Trail has become a significant form of economic development for the Ahousaht First Nations.
Plan your hike with the Lone Cone Tofino office by calling 250.725.2169 or by calling the Ahous Fuel Stop, which serves as the Wild Side Trail’s office on-site in Ahousaht, at 250.670.6803. This is when you’ll arrange for a water taxi and trail fees. It’s also possible to hire a local Ahousaht guide to accompany you on the trail.
Once arrived, you’ll want to check in at the Ahous Fuel Stop. You’ll be walking through the small village of Maaqtusiis (also known as Marktosis) to access the trailhead. Even though this is a permanent home to approximately 2,000 inhabitants, bear in mind that you’re headed on a wilderness hike and be sure to pack all the food and gear you’ll need, as opportunities to buy groceries or snacks are infrequent.
Here are some tips for a memorable trail experience:
Pack for spontaneous weather changes, from rain to hot sun.
Note that the boardwalk portion of the trail is often built with hand-split planks, which can curve. Good balance is an asset!
Another thing about the boardwalk. Like any wooden boardwalk on our coast, the wood can get mossy and slippery.
Take the time to read the green and yellow signs along the trail, sharing cultural information.
The end of the hike is a challenging ascent up Mount Flores. This hike can get muddy and can, at times, be unaccessible.
Less than an hour away from Tofino, this is a rare opportunity for a hike with history.