Below is my experience on the Wildside Trail on Flores Island, traditional Ahousaht Territory.
Please ensure to check into and plan the details of each hike you are wanting to experience.
Entrance to Wildside Trail
Getting to Flores Island
Mostly 2 to 4 hours parking along first and main street and surrounding areas. We parked on Neil street in front of some houses where there was no time limit.
There are a few long term lots in the City: we didn’t bother looking because we are cheap!
I called the Wildside trail office and let then know I needed a boat and they wrangled one for us so remember their number. Cash only. 20 to 25 each.
You can also go down to the dock and ask when a boat arrives if they will ferry you over.
From Cow Bay to the Ahousaht dock, hiking the coastal trail took us 3 hrs with breaks.
Please note campers have informed me that the water sources I speak of below have dried up as the summer season progresses, so be prepared!
Flores Island Wildlife
Wolves are an issue on Flores. Please take a look at BC Parks Wolf Safety Guidance before you head over. And don’t feed the resident dogs!
Flores Island Experience
The majority of the Wildside Trail is flat, coastal hiking, unless you go partially through the inland trail, or brave Mt Flores (we didn’t).
At this time, we were told it was very overgrown and not doable. Since then, I have heard that the trail has been cleared somewhat, but check with locals.
Sand Dunes: First Campsite
Sand dunes is the first site you’ll come across at about the 2km mark. There is barely any wood for fires near the food cache and outhouse.
There was plenty of wood at the far West end near the side trail to the culturally modified tree.
We never headed up to the tree on this trip, so it will be a fun discovery for you! We camped at the dunes the first night.
We wanted to take out time and enjoy the entire long weekend outdoors rather than go the 11kms to Cow Bay the first night.
Beautiful sunset colors at the “Sand Dunes” on Flores Island
We were treated to a super peaceful and human free experience. When we woke up in the morning, there were wolf prints outside our tent. Creepy!
No water available here so we filled a 20 liter container at the check in office.
Getting to Cow Bay
What I love about the Wildside trail is that it is like a choose your own adventure book where you can pick your level of difficulty by selecting a few different trails once you reach Kutcous which is the next official camping spot.
At low tide you CAN cross the river at its mouth but you get wet to the knees.
On the way to Cow Bay we chose to take the high tide cut off inland trail from Kutcous. We had to walk the right side of the river bank and follow the markings on a tree that said trail to bridge.
Kutcous River Mouth
Walk Down this river bank to cross at the low point passed the downed trees
There are two options here. You can cross the river at the bridge, or, if the water is low enough like it was for us, just walk across with your waterproof boots on, just passed the downed trees on your right.
After you cross the bridge/river, you keep right to go inland.
If you go left, which takes you back to the Coastal Trail, it’s an extra 1.5 kms.
We’ve done a ton of coastal hiking so we decided to change the scenery up, and headed inland. The Inland Trail was RUGGED!
Hopefully, it’s been well used since our trip!
We then scrambled over the black rocks and started back on the coastal trail.
Flores Island: Coastal Trail
The Wildside Trail, Coastal Section just north of Kutcous contains many sandy beaches for camping without food caches or out houses.
Bring enough rope to hang your food out of the reach of bears but mostly wolves.
There were a slow moving stream or two at each beach but the later in the summer you go they will dry up to nothing.
If you have the capacity to carry your water from Kutcous you could camp at the smaller beaches along the coastal trail.
Make sure to get your water from far up the river.
The beaches are much more sheltered from the wind than Cow Bay with plenty of wood and flat spots above the high tide line for camping.
West End of Cow Bay
West end Cow Bay has 3 streams for water. At least it did when we went in May.
The good news is there are typically no people camped up there, the bad news is you have to walk farther with your pack on.
West End Cow Bay Camping
Looking East down Cow Bay Beach
West end also has an ample supply of driftwood for a fire. Look for the float on a stick that we put up to mark the first stream.
No food cache or outhouse at the West end.
It’s always windy here and it can be hard to find a tree tall enough to hang your food. At the east end there is 2 food caches I believe and an outhouse.
There is a cool cabin that you can visit when taking the coastal trail. Don’t forget to sign the guest book.
If you’re looking for a hiking experience closer to the South Island, check out our Hiking and Photo Tours below!