Travelling to Flores Island and hiking the Wild Side Trail is no ordinary adventure. It’s a chance to hike the same pathways that the Ahousaht First Nations people have used for thousands of years. It’s a chance to stand still and hear the heartbeat of the Earth. It’s a chance to dream away your day on a white sand beach.
Flores Island is located about 20 kilometres north of Tofino, and you can access the island by a 40-minute water taxi ride, or a 20-minute seaplane ride. Although you can complete the hike in a day (if you’re super fit and ambitious), it’s better to stretch the hike over two or three days, camp out and take your time.
The Wild Side Trail is 11 kilometres long, one way, and on this hike you’ll be following the traditional path used by the Ahousaht people to access the luxurious white sand beaches on the west side of the island.
Upon arriving on the island, you’ll want to stop at the Ahous Fuel Stop. Here you can pay your trail fees, book a water taxi and even hire a guide for your hike. And then you’ll be travelling through the village of Maaqtusiis (also known as Marktosis) to get to the trailhead. Although this village is home to about 2,000 people, don’t let that fool you into thinking the Wild Side Trail will be any less rugged. It’s a wilderness hike, so you’ll need to be prepared with the proper food and supplies before heading out.
When packing for your trip, make sure you’re prepared for weather changes and various conditions – anything from rain to blazing sun. The boardwalk portion of the hike can be unstable, so you’ll need good balance, and it can also be mossy and slippery. Dogs are not permitted on the trails, and be sure to read the signs along the way, which share cultural information about the trail and the area.
At the end of the hike, you can take a challenging climb up Mount Flores. Depending on the weather, this way might not be accessible, and if it is, it might be muddy. But the journey up will be well worth it.
The Wild Side Trail was originally restored in the 1990s, and now serves as a major form of economic development for the Ahousaht First Nations people. Ahousaht is located in the Clayoquot Sound UNESCO Biosphere and is translated from Nuu-chah-nulth to mean “people living with their backs to the land and mountains on a beach along the open sea.” Unforgiving and difficult, this trail will surely leave an imprint on your heart and soul.
There are a few companies that offer guiding services along the trail. You can call Lone Cone at their Tofino office to plan your hike, at 250-725-2169. Hello Nature Adventure Tours (250-726-2035), Long Beach Nature Tours (250-725-3320) and Aauuknuk Lodge (250-670-9679) all offer guiding services.