Pacific Rim Hiking Trails Tofino Ucluelet
The Pacific Rim area is hiker’s dream. With trails ranging from rainforest boardwalk stroll to more challenging shoreline hikes, there is something for everyone. Be prepared before you head out by checking tide tables and weather reports.
Wild Pacific Trail, Ucluelet
Starting off in Ucluelet, the world famous Wild Pacific Trail is not to be missed. This is the West Coast’s only oceanside trail, the perfect place to see the grandeur of the coastline and view the ocean in all its rugged power from the safety of the trail. Currently there are three sections of the trail, and the community of Ucluelet is planning to extend the Wild Pacific Trail all the way to connect with Halfmoon Bay in Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. The Lighthouse Loop, the Big Beach Section and the Brown’s Beach Section all offer spectacular viewpoints for watching storms whipping in, whales going by and the sun rising and setting. Views of Barkley Sound, the Broken Group Islands and the open Pacific Ocean are possible from the trail. You’ll pass through sections of overgrown forests of ancient cedar and spruce trees, you’ll see mosses, fungi, lichen and ferns, you may even see a bald eagle flying by. Be sure to pick up a copy of Long Beach Maps when you arrive to town for more detailed information about the different sections of the trail and where to park to access this glorious gem in Ucluelet. (gravel, boardwalk and forested trail, some sections steep and moderately difficult).
Trails in Pacific Rim National Park Reserve:
Willowbrae Trail is part of the pioneer route that once linked Ucluelet with Tofino. A gravel trail somewhat hilly trail through the forest you leads to the beautiful Florencia or Half Moon Bay areas, perfect for picnics, or long beach strolls. The Half Moon Bay trail is a boardwalk and bark mulch path that leads you through old growth forest to a picturesque cove. The final descent is a steep one. Florencia Bay (also called Wreck Bay) is also accessible from a parking lot off Wick Rd in the park (boardwalk staircase to the beach is quite steep), and is a wonderfully sheltered and expansive sandy beach for enjoying a full morning or afternoon’s delight. (moderate difficulty, with steep sections nearing the beach)
South Beach Trail is a short 1.5km trail on gravel and boardwalk that provides access to the scenic Lismer Beach. Hikers can connect to the Nuu-chah-nulth Trail from South Beach Trail, which traverses the Quitsitis headleads to link up with Florencia Bay. This forested boardwalk trail features interpretive signs and a Nuu-chah-nulth totem pole as homage to the original inhabitants of this beautiful land.
The Shorepine Bog Trail is an inland wheelchair accessible boardwalk loop that is located off Wick Rd. This is one of the most unique displays of vegetation in the park. Three hundred year-old shorepine dwarf trees dominate this somewhat eerie 1km trail, so gnarled because of water accumulated in this geological depression. Sphagnum moss is prevalent throughout the bog, causing the soil to remain acidic and stunting the growth of all the plants and trees in the area. This is an easy trail with washrooms located in the parking lot.
The Rainforest Trail will be a favourite once you’ve experienced these two 1km inland loops. Both loops meander through pristine old growth rainforest so unique to this area. The hush of the forest will encircle you as you wander amongst these giants and fallen logs. Interpretive signage on Loop A (across the highway from the parking area) explains the forest life cycles, including how fallen logs become home to moss, lichen and hundreds of other organisms. Loop B teaches visitors about forest inhabitants and the interconnections between the forest life cycle and that of keystone species in the area such as salmon. This is an easy trail, though you do have to cross the highway for Loop A.
The Combers Beach Trail starts out as a wide gravel trail to a steep slope through a mature forest of Sitka spruce. The trail joins up briefly with the older Spruce Fringe Boardwalk and brings hikers to the beach via a ramp and steps that may be disturbed, depending on erosion conditions. This trail is easy, but with moderately difficult sections.
Schooner Trail is a boardwalk forest trail that ascends and descends stairs and ramps through a mature rainforest. Streams, nurse logs and tall trees dominate this trail that leads hikers to the wonderfully secluded Schooner Cove. On a low tide walk around the point to access miles more beach. This 1km trail (one way) is moderately difficult because of stairs.
Radar Hill is the spot for panoramic views of Clayoquot Sound and the Long Beach area. You can drive to the top or park at the bottom and walk up the hill for an exhilarating climb. There is some evidence of the foundations of the radar station that existed here during the cold war. A wheelchair accessible ramp goes to a viewpoint, but cannot access the highest point. In Tofino, a boardwalk staircase leads to Tonquin Beach from the end of Tonquin Park Rd. The recently restored boardwalk features individually sponsored boards bearing the names of the benefactors. This is a sandy cove beach that is ideal for fishing. It looks across to Wickaninnish Island and the open ocean.