Clayoquot Sound has a staggering array of hiking trails within it. Between Tofino and Ucluelet, Pacific Rim National Park has several wilderness and beach trails, each one radically different from the last. The Islands in the area are often Provincial Parks on their own with perfect beaches well away from the crowds. This is a list of the best of the best of the areas hiking trails.
A Walk in the Forest Trail is a wonderful new boardwalk trail that has a peculiar, though recent history. Originally built in 1997 by the District of Ucluelet and the Ministry of Forests. Unfortunately it fell into neglect for several years. The boardwalk rotted and vandalism and garbage defaced the trail. Restoration began in 2010, funded by the Clayoquot Biosphere Trust and Iisaak Forest Resources Limited. In 2012 the Central Westcoast Forest Society extended the boardwalk and created a large viewing platform that overlooks Lost Shoe Creek. This new platform will be used to host outdoor educational programs. The Central Westcoast Forest Society has joined with the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and the Arts to co-manage this now designated BC recreational site. Parks Canada has created new interpretive signs...
Why should you hike the new A Walk in the Forest Trail?
It is a wonderful and new boardwalk hike through the beautifully chaotic rainforest. It represents the wonderful work of The Central Westcoast Forest Society to breath life back into this recently forgotten an brutalized place.
Chesterman Beach is a wonderful 3 kilometre beach just a 10 minute drive from Tofino. The walk to the beach from your car takes just 3 minutes with the roundtrip distance covered to the beach and back to your car is about 500 metres (or a third of a mile). It lays just outside of Pacific Rim National Park and as a result has a local feel that you don't get from most other beaches. From the wind battered houses that line the beach though shrouded in the coastal forest, to the magnificent Wickaninnish Inn sprawling to the ocean, Chesterman Beach is a beautiful beach oasis. The Wickaninnish Inn is a fabulously luxurious resort that ranks as one of the top resorts in Canada and sits at the far end of the beach. Chesterman Beach appeals to everyone. Surfing, walking, relaxing, playing and beach exploring are all popular here. In the spring and summer you may even spot whales passing by. Frank Island sits out from the middle of the beach and during low tide can be reached on foot.
Why should you go to Chesterman Beach in Tofino?
Chesterman Beach is enjoyable for everyone. It can be romantic at sunset or hauntingly beautiful at sunrise. Kids love exploring the endlessly interesting and lively beach. It is close and convenient from Tofino. It appeals to surfers of all abilities. Despite its popularity and wide array of possibly activities, Chesterman somehow keeps a tranquil, calm feeling. Wonderful to bring your family to, but equally enticing as a quiet, solo retreat.
Clayoquot Arm Provincial Park is a wild and beautiful canoe/kayak route that is just remote enough to not be crowded most of the year. The starting point of the park is near the famous bridge that featured in the huge logging protests of 1994 that resulted in hundreds of arrests. There are two large and impressively huge bridges at the edge of this park. The Kennedy River bridge is the bridge you will drive across five minutes before reaching the Kennedy Lake bridge. The Kennedy River bridge was the bridge where much of the 1993 protesting took place. If you paddle under it you can see several burnt pilings from an attempt to burn it down back during the protests. This bridge, or rather paddling under this bridge marks the entrance to the Kennedy River Bog Provincial Park. Generally people set their boats in at the Kennedy Lake bridge though. The second bridge, the Kennedy Lake bridge is where you will likely be launching your boat from to paddle down into Clayoquot Arm Provincial Park. This massive bridge has been unmaintained for years and is falling apart. Therefore it has been blocked by massive boulders so it can't be driven across. It is mesmerizingly beautiful, as only a antique bridge spanning such a great distance can be.
Why should you canoe/kayak Clayoquot Arm Provincial Park?
Clayoquot Arm Provincial Park is wonderfully secluded, majestically huge and beautifully untouched. So close to Tofino and Ucluelet but you feel hundreds of miles away from civilization. The sheltered waters of Clayoquot Arm are more relaxed and forgiving to novice paddlers as compared to the ocean routes around Tofino and Ucluelet. There are plenty of excellent spots to put up a tent and spend the night in paradise.
Clayoquot Plateau Provincial Park is a vast wilderness with trails ranging from decent to awful. Mud, creek crossings, late season snow, bushwhacking and trail-finding are all part of the hiking experience here. Located at the base of Sutton Pass this wild park is not recommended for afternoon hikers. There are some undeveloped trails, but most people hike through this beautiful, deep forest park without using well defined trails. Clayoquot Plateau Provincial Park's highlights are its ruggedness and remoteness. Its untouched forests of Sitka Spruce, Hemlock and huge Cedars, and its abundant cave system bring both adventurers and scholars. The trails are sometimes surprisingly well marked with flagging tape, however, rapid forest growth consume the trails as fast as they are worn in. If you do venture into Clayoquot Plateau Provincial Park, come prepared for a tough but rewarding hike. Lots of views, lots of bears and a seemingly endless wilderness to explore make this park a marvellous hiking destination.
Why should you hike Clayoquot Plateau Provincial Park?
Clayoquot Plateau Provincial Park is a huge BC Coastal Rainforest wilderness devoid of people. The trails are overgrown and sometimes hard to follow, but the views across to Steamboat Mountain and the lakes below are sensational. If you feel comfortable in the back of beyond, this is the wilderness trail for you.
Florencia Bay, named after the ship that was wrecked here in 1861 is certainly one of the most amazing places in the world. Just a short, 1 kilometre (.62 mile) walk to the beach you descend down a wonderfully sketchy tangle of wooden stairs onto a fantastic, wild and secluded feeling Canadian beach. Florencia Bay seems to have it all. Gorgeous, sandy beach. Excellent waves for surfing. An absurdly wild jungle forest that spills over the beach alive with colour. It has to be explored to be appreciated. The 5 kilometre bay cuts a wide arch, often with abrupt cliffs just off the beach. Florencia Bay is known locally as Wreck Beach due the shipwreck that happened here. Four people died when the 200 tonne ship, the Florencia was wrecked. The Florencia actually capsized elsewhere, however, during the salvage effort, the ship towing the Florencia had engine trouble and cast off the Florencia to be wrecked here. The Bay's name was officially changed to Florencia Bay in 1930, but the original name is often still used.
Why should you hike to Florencia Bay in Pacific Rim National Park?
Florencia Bay is secluded feeling and beautiful. Much of the beach is south facing and wonderfully sunny. The sunsets are spectacular and the surfing is often very good. The wonderful history can be read from an excellent viewpoint monument on the trail to the beach.
Flores Island Provincial Park is located just a 40 minute water taxi ($20 scheduled or $25 on demand) ride away. This beautiful, remote and wild feeling island is a popular beach camping destination, relatively close to Tofino. Some of the beautiful beaches have excellent vantage points for whale watching as Gray whales pass here on their annual migration between Alaska and California. Fishing and kayaking are very popular in this park as well. The park has no fees for hiking or camping but to walk the Wild Side Trail you have to pay an alarming $25/person as it is maintained by the local Ahousaht First Nations. The trail is 22k roundtrip and considering the two day (average) time people take to hike this island, $25 is not too bad. The Wild Side Trail runs through a beautiful jungle forest of massive Sitka trees and passes along Whitesands Beach and Cow Bay and leads to Mount Flores.
Why should you hike and/or camp on Flores Island Near Tofino?
Flores Island Provincial Park is wild, remote and breathtaking. The beaches and trees are big and beautiful and people few. Staring out at the seemingly infinitely big Pacific Ocean from a white sand, Canadian beach, on a little island, feeling far from civilization, is a wonderful thing.
Grice Bay is not really a hike but a setting off point for kayakers and boaters. Tofino Inlet, Cannery Bay, Tranquil Inlet, Fortune Channel, Dawley Passage Provincial Park as well as Kennedy River are all attractions for boaters from here. There is a nice boat launch and lots parking. Kayakers frequently depart from here to explore the sheltered waters away from the open ocean out past Tofino. Usually quiet and serene, sometimes Grice Bay can be a hive of activity due to its popularity as a boat launch for tour operators, recreational boaters as well as fishermen. At Grice Bay you will find a small picnic area and pit toilets and a small grassy area. There are great views of the bay and islands beyond. You could easily entertain yourself by sitting on the cute rocky beach and watching the wildlife in the area. Bald Eagles and Great Blue Herons are sometimes spotted here. The boat launch of course is free to use however you will require a parking pass if you plan on leaving your vehicle unattended for any length of time. You can't get a pass at Grice Bay, but rather at one of the Parks offices, tourist Info Centre's or at the Long Beach Parking Lot. If you plan on needing a parking permit, it is convenient to pick one up at the huge Tourist Info Centre on your way to Tofino. The one at the three way junction where left takes you to Ucluelet and right to Tofino.
Why should you drive to Grice Bay?
Grice Bay is a great place to escape the crowds and soak in nature. The silence is wonderful and the scenery is pretty. Certainly if you have a boat, kayak or canoe, Grice Bay is a great place to visit and launch. The amount of wildlife in the area is unexpectedly huge. If you sit on the hot, sun warmed rocks on the shore of Grice Bay for a few minutes you will easily spot a dozen different residents of this tranquil and usually overlooked corner of Pacific Rim National Park.
Hot Springs Cove is a wonderful day trip from Tofino. Lots of whale watching companies offer whale watching/hot springs tours for very reasonable prices. The boat ride is out on the open ocean is quite fun and there is a fair bit to see, not least the whales that you hopefully encounter. The hot springs themselves are wonderful, and the 25 minute (1.2 kilometre) walk to them is unexpectedly beautiful and interesting. Intricate cedar boardwalks and bridges move you up and through massive trees and wind through the forest. Years of interesting carvings into the boardwalk planks adorn the route. Hundreds of names of visiting people, groups, and vessels, give the walkway a historic and artistic feel to it. Along the boardwalk there are a couple very nice viewpoints looking out to the ocean beyond the forest. Upon reaching the hot springs there are some nice, beautifully built, cedar changing rooms and yet another viewpoint. Finally a short path takes you to the hot springs. Flowing through fissures in the rock the amazing 50 degree water (122F) flows from a small waterfall and continues through five wonderfully natural pools that lead to the ocean...
Why should you go to Hot Springs Cove near Tofino?
Hot Springs Cove is an amazing day out from Tofino that can include whale watching and an enjoyable boat ride to reach them. The amazing, natural hot springs are beautiful and due to their remoteness, relatively serene. To enjoy hot springs that cascade into the violent Pacific Ocean is amazing! The hiking/walking trail to reach the hot springs is very nice and entirely enjoyable. The cost to reach Hot Springs Cove from Tofino is quite reasonable ($120) when you consider all that you pack into the journey, there and back.
Kennedy Lake, the largest lake on Vancouver Island is enormous and surrounded by a fantastic tangle of rainforest. One positive legacy of the forestry that existed here is the spider web of logging roads and bridges that allow for access to the otherwise inaccessible parts of this wonderful lake. There are several access points to the lake, but 13k from the highway, at the enormous and disintegrating Kennedy Lake bridge is the most beautiful. A great way to escape the crowds in Tofino and Ucluelet over 45 minutes away. At this dead end in the logging road (as the bridge is barricaded by boulders as it's unsafe to drive on), there is a fantastic array of outdoor recreation possibilities. First off the Kennedy Lake bridge is the gateway to the amazing Clayoquot Arm Provincial Park. You can launch your boats here, park and/or camp to begin your paddling journey into this 12k paddling route into the wilderness of Clayoquot Sound. Another canoeing/kayaking option is Kennedy Lake. Leaving from the same boat launch area at the Kennedy Lake bridge you can paddle in the opposite direction to Clayoquot Arm. That is paddling into the massive Kennedy Lake. Within five minutes you are in a serene wilderness setting with frequent small, sandy pocket beaches very suitable for a tent and campfire. Though the shore looks impenetrably thick with greenery most of the time, in fact there are gaps everywhere and natural clearings all along the shore that you can hike through for hours. Plenty of driftwood from this massive lake litter the shoreline everywhere you go as well making an interesting hike.
Why should you drive to Kennedy Lake near Tofino?
Kennedy Lake is an amazing escape from busy ocean hikes, trails and beaches near Tofino and Ucluelet. The horribly potholed logging road that leads to the lake discourages most. There are several nice trails through the beautiful, old growth forest, to nice beaches. With a canoe or kayak you can access several remote and beautiful, sandy beaches and potential campsites.
Kennedy River Bog Provincial Park is just another feature of the Tofino/Ucluelet part of the world that is just amazing. You paddle down the wide, Amazon-like river channel into an amazing bog full of life all around you. A fantastic window to a seemingly untouched oasis in the middle of a rainforest world full of life. Access is reached by dropping your canoe/kayak in at the nearby Kennedy Lake bridge which is also a good place for wilderness camping as it has a decent and large sand and gravel beach on the massive Kennedy Lake. The bridge has fallen into disuse and unsafe to drive on but is still walkable. Paddling to Kennedy River and the gateway to Kennedy River Bog Provincial Park is less than a ten minute paddle from where you launch. You can launch at the Kennedy River bridge, but the launch is simply a steep dirt path beside the bridge and there is just barely room enough to park your vehicle. The gateway to Kennedy River Bog Provincial Park is by passing under the massive and derelict Kennedy River bridge. A strong new bridge has been build above the old pilings and the view of the crumbling foundations is beautiful as you pass under. This bridge has an interesting history as it was the location of the famous logging protests in 1993. 11000 protesters came to the Clayoquot Sound to take part in protests against what was deemed unrestricted logging in the area. Every day for three months people gathered on this bridge to block logging vehicles. Hundreds were arrested it what became, and remains one of the largest acts of civil disobedience in Canadian history. The crumbling foundations still show fragments of that extraordinary history. If you look closely as you pass under the bridge you will see several badly burned support logs that resulted from an attempt to burn the bridge down. Amazing!
Why should you canoe/kayak Kennedy River Bog Park?
Kennedy River Bog Park is a beautiful and serene world full of wonderful flora and fauna. You will rarely see another human in this hidden, river world deep in the wilderness. If you are a novice paddler, this is a great place to get started. Kennedy River is slow moving and sheltered from the wind. Seeing the famous Kennedy River bridge up close and underneath is quite interesting. A real piece of local history when you reach out and touch the burnt pilings that look as if it happened months instead of decades ago. If you launch at the Kennedy Lake bridge you will pass by a few very nice rock outcrops at Rainbow Beach as well as the small sheltered and sandy beach perfect for parking for lunch.
The Kwisitis Visitor Centre is a beautiful and astonishingly elaborate little museum next to the very nice Kwisitis Feast House(previously the Wickaninnish Restaurant). Both the Centre and the Restaurant lay in the rainforest of Quisitis Point that separates Wickaninnish Beach and Florencia Bay. The restaurant has incredible views and the Kwisitis Visitor Centre is free. Kwisitis, in the Nuu-chah-nulth language, means "other end of the beach". The restaurant and visitor centre are in a very nice building perched on a point in the middle of seemingly endless beaches in either direction. The restaurant is perched so far out on this point of land that you feel as though you have ocean all around you. There is a huge sundeck outside the restaurant where you have the ocean crashing below you. You hear about "must-see" mentioned about places, however in the case of the Kwisitis Visitor Centre, it is definitely a must-see. The restaurant alone is worth the drive(or hike) to with its amazing ocean views. Even on a dreary day you will be captivated by the wonderful view. The Kwisitis Visitor Centre exhibits are stunning. A full size recreation of a whale hunt takes up much of the main room. The attention to detail is amazing as you can see the intensity in the hunter's faces as they go for the kill. Several other depictions line the walls. You may only spend 15 minutes in the visitor centre, but you will appreciate the wonderful look into the history of the area.
Why should you drive or hike to the Kwisitis Visitor Centre?
Kwisitis Visitor Centre is a wonderful and free little museum of sorts in a building with a huge deck overlooking the ocean. The Kwisitis Feast House has great food and reasonable prices and every table has a million dollar view of the Pacific Ocean. Located in the midst of other fantastic hikes make this a must-do on any visit to Pacific Rim National Park.
Long Beach is the wonderfully accessible beach that spans the middle of Pacific Rim National Park for several kilometres. It's the longest stretch of surf swept sand on west coast of Vancouver Island. In fact, if you include Florencia Bay, Wickaninnish Beach, Combers Beach and Schooner Cove with Long Beach, then it is the longest sand dune on Vancouver Island. Surfing, walking and wandering the beach are the main activities here. Winter storm watching and summer sunshine make Long Beach hard to beat. It is popular and huge, so you don't feel crowded even in the busiest of summer days. Storm watching is advertised to off season visitors to Pacific Rim National Park, and for good reason. The Pacific Ocean crashes here with nothing to impede it for thousands of kilometres. The nearby West Coast Trail, is closed to hikers for more than half of the year due to these ferocious storms and brutal weather. These storms along this stretch of coast the nickname, the "Graveyard of the Pacific" after decades of continuous inbound ships wrecking along the shores near here.
Why should you go to Long Beach in Pacific Rim Park?
Long Beach is a huge, white sand beach that is just steps from where you park your car. Located in the middle of Pacific Rim National Park, it is convenient and beautiful. Surfing, suntanning, relaxing, exploring, picnicking and swimming are all fantastic here.
Lone Cone is the wonderful cone shaped mountain that dominates the skyline in Tofino. It is just 6k from Tofino on the north-western end of Meares Island. Lone Cone is an incredible hike to do while in Tofino. There are several attributes that make it fantastic. First, its location. Very close to Tofino. Just a short and very scenic boat taxi takes you to the trailhead. Second, is it is such an abruptly steep hike that you go from the ocean to absurdly sweeping views in just over an hour. Due to the location of Lone Cone requiring a water taxi to access, ensures that it remains serene and quiet most days. In the 15 minute, fast taxi, you will see a quick look at the spectacular scenery that has made Tofino famous. Small and large islands crammed almost solid with beautifully huge trees. Sandy beaches that make you think more that you are in Hawaii than in Canada. Abrupt, rocky outcrops with chaotic, swirling, clear and green water that the boat taxi/tour guide continuously points to unexpectedly beautiful creatures lurking in. Then you look up in the trees and spot a resident eagle staring menacingly down from a tree branch next to its nest full of offspring. And that's just the first five minutes from the pier. 15 minutes from the pier you arrive at the grungy, though at the same time, strangely beautiful pier at the now abandoned town, Kakawis. There are still a few dozen houses that line the gravel road you will see as you make your way to the trailhead. In 2013 another trailhead was opened closer to Tofino but much further from Lone Cone. This trailhead also has a $5 fee to access.
Why should you hike Lone Cone on Meares Island near Tofino?
Lone Cone is a challenging, abruptly steep and very rewarding hiking trail. The views from the top are sensational. The trail is a bit muddy at the start, then mostly shrouded in trees most of the way to the top, however it is relatively short at just 3.3 kilometres (drop off pier to viewpoint near the summit). The boat taxi fare to Lone Cone is quite reasonable at just $40 for the round trip.
The Nuu-chah-nulth (aka the Wickaninnish Trail), has the amazing distinction among all the other beach hikes in the Tofino-Ucluelet corridor, in that it is flanked on one side by the amazing, and historic Florencia Bay. And on the other side by the unexpectedly, extraordinary and beautiful, Kwisitis Visitor Centre. The Kwisitis Visitor Centre is in fact a pretty impressive little museum. They have taken a very small space and filled it with jaw dropping murals, carvings, exhibits and an amazing full sized native whaling expedition in mid-attack. Amazing. You certainly don't expect such a well designed exhibition to be so understated.. and free. And if that wasn't enough there's more. The Kwisitis Feast House(previously the Wickaninnish Restaurant) is excellent. Reasonably priced and good food.. and every table has a million dollar view of the wild Pacific Ocean, beyond and below. The restaurant juts out, over the ocean, and the waves crash here as you dine, loud, big and beautiful. You would be hard pressed to find a more amazing view for lunch or dinner, at such a reasonably priced restaurant, anywhere. But enough about the great restaurant, back to the great trail. The Nuu-chah-nulth is an interpretive trail that gives a glimpse of the local First Nations culture as it meanders 2.5 kilometres through the rainforest from Florencia Bay to Wickaninnish Beach. Certainly a good way to hike this area is to park at the Florencia Bay/Nuu-Chah-Nulth parking lot and take the short hike to Florencia Bay.
Why should you hike the Nuu-chah-nulth Trail?
The Nuu-chah-nulth Trail is fantastic. It has history, a beautiful rainforest trail, ocean views, a beautiful beach and it ends at the amazing and free Kwisitis Visitor Centre and excellent Kwisitis Feast House Restaurant! The Nuu-chah-nulth Trail is located in an amazing cluster of sights, beaches and hikes. The Shorepine Bog Trail, Florencia Bay, Kwisitis Visitor Centre,Kwisitis Feast House and the Nuu-chah-nulth Trail are all easily done in a half day.
Radar Beach is one of the innumerable places that makes this part of the world so amazing. It is difficult to get to due to it having an unmarked trailhead, steep and muddy trail, and considerable climbing and crawling above and below fallen trees. Where the other popular beach trails in the area have elaborate and expensive boardwalks and stairs, Radar Beach does not. And hopefully never will. This difficult trail ensures Radar Beach as a secluded paradise in the midst of the sometimes crowded and chaotic, nearby beaches. The unmarked hiking trail begins at the end of the Radar Hill parking lot. Indiscreetly, a well used trail disappears steeply down towards the ocean, and within minutes you find yourself clinging to a rope as you ascend steeply. The trail is easy to follow in the daytime, however, you would have great difficulty keeping to the trail after dark. You would be smart to have a light with you in case you linger at the beach longer than planned. Though it's only just over one kilometre to the beach, it may take you over 40 minutes to get there. There is, along with some rope assisted sections, plenty of mud avoiding, root jumping, log crossing sections that slow you down. The mud can generally be avoided, but if you're worried, don't wear shoes you don't want dirtied. Once at the beach you will quickly realize that there are multiple beaches. One massively beautiful beach with rocky points on either side. To the right the beach has an interesting rock outcrop, great for climbing over and an amazing place to sit and watch the sunset. To the left the beach extends into the trees with a small channel of water. Crossing the water is easy, then getting to the further beaches requires a bit of climbing, depending on the tides...
Why should you hike to Radar Beach in Pacific Rim Park?
Radar Beach is a dirty, steep and treacherous, unmarked and unmaintained trail that leads to a beautiful and secluded set of beaches. If you are game for a challenge and crave serenity then Radar Beach is your paradise.
Radar Hill is definitely one of the Tofino sights not to be missed. It's easy and quick to access, the views are beautiful, and its one of the few places in Tofino where you can see where you are. Usually you are engulfed in trees or down by the water. From Radar Hill you rise above everything. Because it was a military radar post, you can drive right to it. The walk to the top takes only five or so minutes. The memorial plaque is very touching as well. A very powerful time in Canadian history. Anyway, take in the views and read the plaque. It's very moving. Take a moment to think about how amazing the view is, and how intricate the memorial is. This memorial to a battle. An amazing event in Canadian history. This war is in our past, it could not happen again. But it was so recent. In 1951 the world was at war. Now think of how little you know about this war. Monuments like this are very important. Radar Hill serves two purposes. The first as a memorial. The second as an amazing place to take in the world. Tofino is young. Sort of. It's only been a massive tourist draw for a couple decades. But for a lot longer than that its been a lot more. And Radar Hill has featured in thousands of peoples memories. For an obvious and powerful reason. The view is incredible. If ever there was a perfect place to share a beer or toast to something. This place is it.
Why should you hike to Radar Hill near Tofino?
Radar Hill has beautiful views and an interesting history. A close and convenient drive from Tofino to a very short trail to the wonderful, historic viewpoint. If you don't take a few short minutes to stop here and see the monument memorial and beautiful views you will be missing out on a very nice place. A great idea if you are staying in Tofino is to make it your first sightseeing stop of the day and bring a lunch to relax and enjoy the wonderful views.
The Rainforest Trail is a fantastic, deep, dark, wet and wonderful walk through a giant tree forest. There are, in fact, two beautiful 1km rainforest loop trails. One on the ocean side of the highway, the other on the forest side. Both are equally nice and both have an elaborate boardwalk system that at times seems luxurious as it keeps you tidily above the deep, mossy, wet, and chaotic forest floor. For an amazing, jungle-like experience this is the place to go. The forest is deep, wet and massive. Very massive. The wonderful aroma of nature fills your lungs as this incredibly elaborate boardwalk runs along massive nurse logs, huge cedars and an astounding array of young and ancient trees. You come out of this forest in awe of how beautiful this Tofino - Ucluelet stretch of land is. This is the away-from-the-ocean, BC Coastal Rainforest at its best. And there are two trails, remarkably different, so really it's a figure 8 trail. Do it all and marvel at the wonderful, wet and wild Clayoquot Sound.
Why should you hike the Rainforest Trails in Pacific Rim Park?
The Rainforest Trail is just steps from the Pacific Rim Highway and a quick and easy way to get out and see massive trees is a truly beautiful, BC rainforest. The boardwalk is fun and makes you feel like you are in a jungle playground. The two 1 kilometre loop trails are easy and fun for the whole family.
The beautiful trail to Schooner Cove starts just at the top end of Pacific Rim National Park near Tofino. Schooner Cove also sits near the top or northern end of Long Beach which continues south from here for 10 kilometres! Almost immediately you are struck by the enormous trees. Hundreds of years old, these monsters are everywhere along this trail. The Schooner Cove trail and Schooner Cove itself is much quieter and even at times secluded feeling when compared to other Pacific Rim National Park beaches and hiking trails. The trailhead parking is just off of the Pacific Rim Highway. The trailhead is just across a small, gravel road and you quickly enter a beautiful forest along a gravel path. The path soon leads to a wonderfully constructed wooden boardwalk. Stairs, bridges and lots of boardwalk guide you through the the thick forest of huge cedars and hemlock trees. There are an abundance of examples in and around Tofino and Ucluelet of nurse logs. Trees that have fallen and another tree has grown on it. The Schooner Cove trail, however, has a really amazing example of this. A massive, western hemlock, grows from a huge, fallen tree with its spider web like roots grasping all around it. This wonderful tree is located just inches from the boardwalk and leaves you staring in wonder about how aggressive a tree can fight to live.
Why should you hike the Schooner Cove Trail in Pacific Rim Park?
The trail to Schooner Cove is fun and varied. Beautiful forest, bizarre trees and a nice hidden beach. Definitely one of the more adventurous of the easy trails in Pacific Rim National Park.
Hiking/walking the Shorepine Bog Trail in Pacific Rim National Park is a surreal experience. As you wander through this weather beaten forest that looks nothing like anything else you've seen in the rest of the park. It is absolutely bizarre. Pacific Rim National Park is almost entirely rainforest. Giant trees, wet, mossy ground, dead and decaying giant trees, laying on the dark, wet forest floor. And yet the Shorepine Bog Trail looks more like a desert. Everything looks blasted by wind, and unexpectedly dry, very dry. The Shorepine Bog Trail is not so much a trail as a continuous boardwalk. This makes it a very easy and relaxing trail that keeps you from damaging the bog beneath your feet as you walk. This short trail runs in a continuous loop that is less than one kilometre and should take you about 20 minutes to complete. The wonderful boardwalk is free of stares and one of the few Pacific Rim Park trails that is very wheelchair friendly. This trail is a wonderful confirmation of Canada's appreciation of parks, nature and education. The fact that an entire raised, wooden walkway has been built in this forest shows an immense dedication to parks and conservation.
Why should you hike the Shorepine Bog Trail in Pacific Rim Park?
The Shorepine Bog Trail is an adventure and learning experience thanks to the wonderfully constructed boardwalk and interpretive signs. It is a great glimpse into a harsh and hidden world inside the otherwise lush and thriving rainforest of Pacific Rim National Park. The Shorepine Bog Trail is located in the same area as Florencia Bay and the Nuu-chah-nulth Trail. Both are beautiful, must see trails and the Nuu-chah-nulth Trail leads to the excellent Kwisitis Visitor Centre and adjoining restaurant, making this a great half day grouping of sights.
The Spruce Fringe Trail in Pacific Rim National Park is located at the edge of Long Beach, 22 kilometres from Tofino or 19 kilometres from Ucluelet. The trail begins as gravel then a wonderful boardwalk and then leads to a stunning force of nature. The Krummholz Tunnel is a weather blasted tunnel of trees. Thick and surprisingly dense, this bizarre feature of the Spruce Fringe Trail has a nice information board explaining it and it's wondrous formation.. "Closer to the sea, the trees contort and huddle together against the weather. The ocean's influence has created the spruce fringe but also limits plant growth and form. Strong winds, laden with salt spray and abrasive sand have shorn off the seaward tips of the trees, pruning them into a tight wedge. Behind this living windbreak, other spruce are able to grow tall and straight. Inside the krummholz tunnel the dense tree canopy blocks the light so few plants can grow on the forest floor. Instead, some shrubs have grown as tall as the trees!" A short side trail leads to Combers Beach. Combers Beach is yet another beautiful and huge beach. Similar to the neighbouring Long Beach it is fun for everyone with lots of room to play and stunning sunsets.
Why should you hike the Spruce Fringe Trail in Pacific Rim Park?
The Spruce Fringe Trail is a relaxing loop trail through a very unusual looking forest. The bizarre and interesting Krummholz Tunnel is amazing to walk through. Combers Beach is beautiful.
Meares Island was the centre of dispute in the 80's when the Nuu-chah-nulth protested Macmillan Bloedel's intent to log the island. The Nuu-chah-nulth together with environmental groups blockaded the island and fought in the courts. The court ruled that until the Nuu-chah-nulth's land claim to the island was settled, no development can occur on the whole of Meares Island. This tremendous victory enabled the creation of The Big Tree Trail and its breathtaking star feature, the Hanging Garden Tree. This monster of a tree. A Western Red Cedar, estimated to be older than 1500 years, is enormous. 18 metres around and magnificently tall, it easily is included among Canada's greatest trees. A nice boardwalk takes you from the trailhead to the Hanging Garden Tree. Most people return from there the same way. You can however, continue on and do a 3.3 kilometre circle route taking in some more of the amazing, and unexpectedly pristine forest, that was the centre of such a chaotic battle not so long ago.
Why should you hike the Big Tree Trail in Meares Island?
Meares Island is beautiful and The Big Tree Trail is a well designed way to explore this wilderness island. Magnificent and enormous trees along a manicured boardwalk make this trail relaxing and very enjoyable. Very informative. You get to see what a 1500 year old tree looks like up close!
Vargas Island Provincial Park is a popular Kayak camping destination due to its wonderful location close to Tofino. It has wonderful, wilderness camping for free and a beautiful feeling of remoteness from the world. And if you are lucky you might see whales pass in the distance from Ahous Bay. The relaxing trail from the Tofino side of Vargas Island to Ahous Bay is 3 kilometres. Making this an easy day-hike from Tofino or Ucluelet at just 6 kilometres roundtrip, trailhead to trailhead. Most of the western and most beautiful side of Vargas Island is within the Vargas Island Provincial Park. The massive and beautiful Ahous Bay is the camping destination for most on Vargas. You can camp anywhere on the beautiful beaches in the park for free, and there are outhouses available at the campsites. Though it is a popular kayaking destination, Vargas Island is so close to Tofino that many simply canoe across to it. You never lose sight of land and are in sheltered water the entire way. You can stash your canoe in the vicinity of the Vargas Island Inn and you will see the trail to Ahous Bay next to the Inn. The trail is easy and well used 3k trail has little elevation gain though an amazingly varied plant life. Remember to bring lots of water as Ahous Bay has very little drinkable water.
Why should you hike to Ahous Bay via the Telegraph Trail on Vargas Island?
Vargas Island is conveniently located close to, and actually visible from Tofino. The boat taxi to the trailhead is cheap and fun. Vargas Island Provincial Park is a great way to escape the crowds at busy times. Ahous Bay is breathtaking and camping there is free!
At 53 metres, Virgin Falls is quite an impressive sight. You walk through the short, two minute hiking trail to reach it and suddenly the massive falls come into view. Virgin Falls is located in a beautiful oasis it has created. A large, ice cold and crystal clear pool with pebble rocks and waterfall battered logs that flows out in a large, meandering stream through the trees. The whole area is surrounded by huge trees and you feel a strange sense of comfort, like you are in protected place. And when you roll out your sleeping bag in the spectacular setting, you will never want to leave. The small, but very inviting camping area is amazing. Huge trees to your back, phenomenal waterfall to your front. Room for two tents near the cozy and clean fire pit. Endless firewood litters the edge of the waterfalls pool beautifully. Though the loud waterfall makes conversation a bit tough. The wonderful area where the fire is is somewhat sheltered by a couple large trees deflecting some sound and making the camping area all the better. The Virgin Falls Road is pretty bad, though very beautiful. It is hardly maintained, though still used logging road that hugs the coast much of its 31k length from the Kennedy River bridge turnoff. The potholes are numerous, though expected. What isn't expected is the narrow, overgrown sections. If you value your vehicles paint, you will find yourself gritting your teeth quite a bit. But then if you have a 4x4, you should likely be used to that and be fine barrelling through these narrow sections. If you are planning on driving up without a 4x4 you should be able to make it, though there are a couple of steep sections that you may have to make a couple runs at to get up.
Why should you drive to Virgin Falls?
Virgin Falls is quite an adventure. On the drive you go over the locally iconic Kennedy River Bridge, the focus of much of the 1993 logging protests. Then the deeply potholed logging road hugs the ocean for a while as you begin to ascend further into the wilderness. After a few nice viewpoints you come to the cute little hut, well worth stopping at or sleeping in. Then finally you reach the amazing Virgin Falls. So deep in the wilderness of Clayoquot Sound that it doesn't appear on most maps and the brutal road to it ensures only the determined can get to it.
The Wild Pacific Trail is a must see on any visit to Pacific Rim National Park, Ucluelet and/or Tofino. Located in Ucluelet, the Wild Pacific Trail is actually a set of three trails that connect into a wonderful 8.4 kilometre route. The Lighthouse Loop trail is a great place to start is wild meandering 2.6km trail that has endless amazing ocean views and an amazing array of twisted, weather beaten, and endlessly interesting trees along the trail. There are several great access points to the ocean where you can clamour over the rocks and see all sorts of sea life lurking in the pools and crevices where the ocean pours in and out of. The Wild Pacific Trail is wide and leisurely with numerous viewpoints to the ocean and guides you in and out of the forest on a constantly interesting route. The Lighthouse Loop takes less than an hour to walk, though considerably more if you explore. You can continue walking along Peninsula Road and Marine Drive to reconnect to the trail or a good idea is to drive to the parking on Marine Drive near Browns Beach. This positions you in the middle of the other two section of the Wild Pacific Trail, Big Beach and Brown's Beach. Big Beach has a large picnic area and a great ocean viewpoint. There are three beach access points. Browns' beach begins near Black Rock Resort and runs through a section of forest then three kilometres of beautiful ocean views until reaching Peninsula Road. If you turn right here you can follow the bike trail to Forbes St and connect back to Marine Drive or simply retrace your steps to your car.
Why should you hike the Wild Pacific Trail in Ucluelet?
The Wild Pacific Trail is an easy and constantly interesting trail to hike anytime of the year. Storm-watching in the colder months and a relaxing and very interesting trail all year-round. Lighthouse Loop Trail is a beautiful route that allows you to walk the trail without having to retrace your steps. Very family friendly with its easy, wide and interesting trail.
The Willowbrae Trail is a fairly quiet trail as compared to other beach trails in Pacific Rim National Park. The trail is easy and flat to begin as you hike along the straight and flat gravel path. This trail is prominent in the local history as a connecting route to Tofino. Before the current highway was built in 1942, the route to Tofino was usually via sea and land right through what is now the Willowbrae Trail. A nice map and information board along the trail points out what historic interests to look out for.. "Notches on old growth stumps that held springboards on which loggers stood to fell the giant trees. Abandoned homestead sites characterized by young second growth trees crowded together with littler shrubbery or undergrowth." The abandoned homestead sites have been obliterated by the forest but the notches in fantastically huge tree stumps are everywhere. Another beautiful look into history is the remaining sections of the "Corduroy Road". Early settlers constructed roads in the forest by laying down logs next to each other in a fashion that resembles corduroy fabric. The Willowbrae Trail takes you straight to the southern end of the beautiful Florencia Bay which is reached in 1.4 kilometres from the trailhead. The final descent to the beach is down a wonderfully long and somewhat steep boardwalk and stairs section. Florencia Bay is certainly one of the most beautiful beaches in Pacific Rim National Park due to its secluded feel, sunny south facing direction and interesting shipwreck history. The beach is big and beautiful and you will usually find just a handful of surfers enjoying the whole area to themselves.
Why should you hike the Willowbrae Trail in Pacific Rim Park?
The Willowbrae Trail is a quiet alternative to the much busier trails in Pacific Rim National Park. It is a trail with lots of historic interest and info on the trail depicting this. The Willowbrae Trail leads to Florencia Bay which, on a sunny day is very beautiful.