Nootka Trail

The West Coast Vancouver Island North BC Marine Trail section:

Nootka Trail: covering outer Nootka Island by foot

March 4, 2011 1 Comment by John Kimantas Spring 2011issue

Kayaking the outside of Nootka Island is a great adventure, but it’s not for everyone, as the water is wild and the risks potentially high. But the same great shoreline can be experienced by foot – if you take the time to overcome a few logistical hurdles.

The Nootka Trail is a world-class wilderness experience by any standard. It meanders the outer shore southward from Louie Bay then east to cover the two most spectacular sides of Vancouver Island’s largest offshore island. The tradeoff is logistics. Being on an island, the Nootka Trail requires transit of some sort to both arrive and depart. This is usually handled by a charter flight into Louie Bay’s lagoon then timing the journey’s end to leave via the Uchuck III from the dock at Yuquot (something that must be timed with care, as the Uchuck only visits twice a week). A more flexible option is water taxi, available from Tahsis (Tahtsa Dive Charters) or Zeballos (Zeballos Expeditions). Since water taxis can’t pass the shallow lagoon entrance, the arrival is a bit more circuitous, requiring a low-tide jaunt along the shore of Louie Bay then a climb over rocky shore till Third Beach, the traditional first stop of a hike. Those dropped by plane will have a simpler time crossing from the lagoon, only a short distance to Third Beach. From there the hike is mostly along the beach – sometimes on sand, but mostly pebbles, cobble or even rocks. At Maquinna Point the trail heads overland again, offering access points to some caves and pocket beaches. The rocky clamber ends near a tidal channel for a lagoon that can make crossings extremely wet at higher tides. The trail ends with an easy beach walk to Yuquot and the docks at Friendly Cove. Note that Yuquot is a Mowachaht First Nation reserve and a fee is charged for access (currently at $45 per person), payable on arrival at an office on the far end of the heritage church.

A highlight is always Calvin Falls, a waterfall set in the midst of the longest sand beach on the island. This is usually the second campsite of the trip after Third Beach. Overall the trail takes four relatively leisurely days. Longer is recommended to linger at some of the more scenic locations.


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