If you’re planning to visit the town of Tofino on the west coast of Vancouver Island then you’re probably not going to want to miss the incredible hiking trails.
To the north of Tofino, you can access world famous hiking trails by renting a water taxi like the Big Tree Trail and Lone Cone Mountain on Meares Island and the Ahousaht Wild Side Trail on Flores Island.
To the south of Tofino, you can access the hiking trails and boardwalks through the old-growth rainforests of Pacific Rim National Park such as the Canso Plane Crash Site near Radar Hill and the Wild Pacific Trail near the town of Ucluelet.
Here are my recommendations for the best hiking trails in Tofino, Pacific Rim National Park and Clayoquot Sound:
1. Lone Cone Mountain
This trail is accessible by a water taxi to the far side of Meares Island that takes about 20-minutes from Tofino.
The trailhead starts just before the Lone Cone Hostel and Campground run by the Ahousaht First Nations.
It is a difficult and often muddy hike that winds through spectacular old-growth forests to the summit of Lone Cone Mountain where you have sweeping views of Tofino and the edge of Clayoquot Sound.
2. The Ahousaht Wild Side Trail
Used by the Ahousaht people for thousands of years, the Wild Side Trail is an 11km adventure into the remote wilderness of Clayoquot Sound.
There is a $15 permit fee to access the trail and maintain the extensive boardwalk system. I recommend hiring a local Ahousaht guide to learn about their fascinating history if they are available.
3. The Big Tree Trail
In the ancient old-growth rainforests of Meares Island, you will find some of the largest and oldest trees in the world.
The Big Tree Trail is a well-maintained 3 km hike past some of the biggest trees in Canada, including the massive Tree of Life and the 2,000 year old legend known as the Hanging Garden.
It is easy to access on tours from Tofino’s docks and you can arrange for First Nations guides to take you along the trail or you can get a map and navigate it yourself.
4. The Hot Springs Cove Trail
A half hour north of Tofino by boat, Hot Springs Cove is one of the Vancouver Island’s most spectacular places to relax and unplug in nature.
While the hike only takes about 20 minutes on a boardwalk from the docks, Hot Springs Cove is a breathtaking place of incredible natural beauty.
You can sit in the hot springs and watch as the cold ocean waters crash into the lower springs sending plumes of stream into the air.
5. The Wild Pacific Trail
The trailhead for the Wild Pacific Trail is located 30 minutes south of Tofino in Ucluelet.
This is an 8 km hike along rugged coastline, mossy old gnarled trees and it is renowned for its breathtaking coastal vistas.
The trail offers many viewpoints overlooking Barkley Sound and the hundreds of pristene islands that make up the Broken Islands.
6. Nuu Chah Nulth Trail
This is the longest trail in Pacific Rim National Park and it is also named for the legendary Chief Wickanninish of the Nuu Chah Nulth people who live near Long Beach.
This 3.8 km trail is of intermediate difficulty and it connects Long Beach and Florencia Bay and offers raised boardwalks through thick, old-growth forests and wetlands.
Along the trail, you will come across Nuu Chah Nulth totem poles that honour the land’s First Nations people.
7. Canso Plane Crash Site
In February 1945, a Royal Canadian Airforce Canso 11007 took off near Tofino and crashed shortly after in the thick rainforest between Radar Hill and the Pacific Ocean.
The trek to the crash site is a popular hike for those with the courage and adventurous spirit to get muddy and a little off-the-beaten path.
The start of the trail is not well marked as it’s not a very well advertised trail. You should park at the lower parking lot at Radar Hill. From there, walk back to the highway and then walk south counting the telephone poles until you reach the 15th pole. That’s where the trail begins.
Those are my recommendations for must-see hiking trails along the west coast of Vancouver Island in the Tofino area.
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