Barkley Recreation OVERVIEWThe Barkley region has become a popular destination for recreation activities because of it's unique geography, with Barkley Sound and the Broken Group islands offering sheltered waters for marine recreation. The region is also the most easily accessed of the West Coast regions, with Highway 4 running through Port Alberni, alongside Sproat Lake and out to the coast, ending at the Ucluelet - Tofino highway. The region also has many inland lakes, most notably Great Central Lake and Sproat Lake, which are popular destinations for fresh-water recreation activities. The Alberni Inlet connects Port Alberni with Barkley Sound, providing safe deep-water access to the west coast.
In Port Alberni, Phase 1 of the new Hupacasath tourism centre is underway. This project, a carving shelter which will eventually become a stage facing the park, is the first part of a $3.5 million tourism centre proposed by the Hupacasath First Nation at the Victoria Quay.
The West Coast Trail
This world-class hiking trail stretches 77km from Bamfield on the north to Port Renfrew on the south end. This section of the coast had been the site of more than 60 shipwrecks since 1854, and the trail was originally built as a life-saving route. The trail is difficult, and not for casual hikers. The 47km section from Pachena Bay, near Bamfield, to Carmanah Point is mainly a wide and clear path; part of it can be covered on the beach, especially at low tides. The 29km section from Carmanah to Port Renfrew is more challenging, requiring stream crossings, gullies, fallen trees, near vertical ladders and narrow log bridges.
A hike of the entire trail takes 6 to 10 days; hikers must be completely self-sufficient as there are no services along the trail. Because this trail is so popular, a reservation system is now in effect: call 1-800-663-6000 to reserve your hike up to 3 months in advance. The West Coast Trail is open for hiking from May 1 to September 30; travel during the off-season is hazardous and not recommended.
Broken Group Islands
The Broken Group consists of over 100 islands, islets and rocky outcrops scattered in the centre of Barkley Sound, between Loudoun Channel and Imperial Eagle Channel. This area is a popular destinations for kayakers, because the waters are relatively sheltered from the Pacific swells. Boats or kayaks can access the Broken Group Islands from Toquart Bay in northwest Barkley Sound. Visitors must travel 12 km NE from the junction of Highway 4 and the Tofino-Ucluelet Highway, before turning onto the unsigned road which leads to the bay. Alternatively, several boats including the Alberni Marine Transport vessel the M.V. Frances Barkely travel between Port Alberni, the Broken Group, Ucluelet, and Bamfield. They will transport paddlers and kayaks/canoes into the Broken Group Islands.
Wild Pacific Trail
(see map from http://www.clayoquot.org/wild-pacific-trail.html)
The long-term vision for the Wild Pacific Trail is for a 16-kilometre trail extending along the open ocean and through the coastal rainforest from the tip of the Ucluelet peninsula to Half Moon Bay at the edge of Pacific Rim National Park. At this point two main sections of the Wild Pacific Trail are complete. More information can be found at: www.wildpacifictrail.com
The Norm Godfrey Nature Trail is a BC Ministry of Forests recreational site. The one-kilometre trail is found approximately 12 km along the West Main forestry road (which begins 1.6 km east of the Tofino-Ucluelet junction on Highway #4.) The trail offers spectacular examples of 1000-year old trees. The trail also extends to a secluded sandy beach on Kennedy Lake.