A visit to Tofino is usually all about the beaches. However, the forests and mountains in the area provide plenty of alternative outdoor activities. Here are 5 hikes within reach from Tofino for when you need a break from digging sand out of… wherever.
Wild Pacific Trail:
The Wild Pacific Trail is the pride and joy of the small harbour town fondly known as Ukee. Spearheaded by a man known as “Oyster Jim,” the trail now spans about 8km of some of the most raw, scenic aspects the rugged coastline has to offer. Although flat and more than manageable the entire way, the view feels like something you should have had to earn via strenuous work. Sweeping views of the Pacific, towering trees and sheer drops to the ocean all accompany a meticulously up kept gravel trail with boardwalks, stairs and lookouts. Kick off with the famous Lighthouse Loop to snap the classic Amphitrite Lighthouse photo and then park at Big Beach to continue on for the last 5kms (one way) to the Rocky Bluffs. Minus the zip between parking lots from the Lighthouse Loop to the rest of the trail, the whole thing round trip should take you about 5hrs. Of course, it can be conveniently broken up with a lunch break in town, a drink at Black Rock or a picnic at the beach.
How to get there: Head into Ucluelet and continue straight down Peninsula Road. There is a turn off just past the Terrace Beach Resort where you can kick off your hike with a small interpretive trail. Otherwise, keep going down Peninsula and turn right at the 3 way stop onto Coast Guard Road. To find Big Beach, turn off of Peninsula onto Matterson Drive. There will be a parking lot basically off the end of the stop sign.
For more on the Wild Pacific Trail, check out this blog post from Ucluelet-Info.com!
Canso Plane Crash Site
For what it lacks in physical exertion, the Canso Plane Crash Site makes up for in pure intrigue and uniqueness. Although the trail is only 5km long, it may take longer than expected due to the bog that interrupts the pathway. Don’t wear nice shoes – you’re going to get muddy. Even the driest part of the summer still sees a decent amount of mud in the area. Other than that, just follow the markings and rope: about 1km in, you’ll pass through an abandoned building. Go through and along a descending pathway, into the bog and out the other side to arrive at the plane. Shockingly in tact despite damage sustained during its crash landing, the now heavily vandalized aircraft makes for quite the sight. It has remained nestled into the hill since 1945, when the Royal Canadian Air Force flight crashed suddenly soon after taking off. The circular pond you pass along the way is allegedly the crater resulting from the detonation of the bombs it contained by rescuers who arrived at the site.
How to get there: Drive south out of Tofino and turn off to Radar Hill. Park at the lower parking lot and then make your way for 15 telephone poles down the highway. Look for the airplane cartoon.
Ps. you’ll be in Pacific Rim National Park land, so don’t forget to purchase day passes at the Visitor’s Centre.
Lone Cone is known to be a strenuous hike that pays off in a big, big way. It’s visible from Tofino, so you can get a good look at what you’re heading out to accomplish. Try to get there on a clear day, as the panoramic views will steal your breath more than the incline. The 7km hike starts off fairly innocently along a 1km-or-so gravel road. Once the road reaches a sign marking the trailhead to the left, the fun begins as you make your way onto a narrow trail. Some obstacles and a bit more rugged terrain will set the pace. Then comes the final push to the top. Within 2km’s, the last section ascends about 700m, lending to the grand total elevation of 730m. At the last second, a small reprieve from the steepness leads to a rocky outcrop viewpoint where you can catch your breath. Don’t stop there, however, a more stunning view waits at the second viewpoint located just up the very last section of the trail. From there, take your time soaking in the sights of the Clayoquot Sound from above.
How to get there: From Tofino, snag a water taxi (~$40/pp round trip) that will take you to the small dock at Kakawis on Meares Island. From the dock, begin along the gravel road that will take you to the trailhead.
This hike is a bit farther out of Tofino, but the pay off is fantastic if you enjoy a fun scramble with lakeside relaxation and a view as a reward. To make it to the very top, a bit of climbing experience may be required, but if you’re satisfied with hanging out at the lake beneath the omnipotent presence of the triple peaks towering above, then trade the belay gear for a picnic and a towel. A quick scramble down to a stream kicks off the hike, and after relocating the trailhead downstream, that’s about the only decline you’ll get for the next 13-ish kilometers. From there, follow the flags and markers through the bush. Some sections have ready ropes to give you a hand, and the trail finds you traversing sections of the river and falls. The entire hike is accompanied by the cascading sounds of the waterfalls over which you’ll climb. At the top you’ll come across the aforementioned lake, which, while rocky, makes for a great camping spot. Just remember the bug spray. To get to the actual summit, go left around the lake, over the humps, through the gully and scramble to the top. The summit, by the way, sits at 1525m high. The views around are absolutely stunning, even just from the lake where you can see 5040, the other surrounding mountains and deep into the Alberni Valley.
How to get there: Head out of Tofino and towards Port Alberni at the junction. After about 80km, you’ll turn right onto the Marion Main Line (snag a Backroads map to help locate it). Continue along this to the end of the Marion CK Watershed and onto the pass heading down the Effingham Watershed (about 10kms). 1km from there, take the right-hand fork and continue about 300m. A rock cairn should mark the trail that heads over the bank. ** The road can get pretty bumpy and a smaller vehicle may not make it to the trailhead. **
Less time consuming and less skill demanding than Triple Peak, 5040 is one of the taller peaks around sitting at (surprise!) 5040ft, or 1536m high. The Cobalt Lake route is one of the most popular, giving way to stunning views in about 45 minutes from where you park the car. Locate the trailhead via the flags and head northeast into an old logging slash through which a trail has been cut. This carries you through slash and trees, ascending about 300m of elevation, and drops you off by the creek that flows from Cobalt Lake. Upon reaching the lake, you’ll have glorious views of Triple Peak and Cats Ears that will beg you to take a quick photo break. Then, heading along the west shore of the lake is a well-kept trail leading to a rocky bowl that gives you a view of the sought-after summit. Either head directly up from there or take the less intense lower satellite route and celebrate the day’s achievement. The 360 degree view gives you an outlook of Barkley Sound and numerous mountain ranges; all stunning vistas that will take your breath away. Not bad for a day’s work. Plan on spending about 6-or-so hours to enjoy the view and some time at the lake.
How to get there: Start out as if going to Triple Peak – Head out of Tofino and towards Port Alberni at the junction. After about 80km, you’ll turn right onto the Marion Main Line (snag a Backroads map to help locate it). Follow that for about 10kms where you’ll reach the Marion 80 – a deactivated and rather rough stretch that a car definitely won’t survive. Follow that for another 3.6km and locate the trailhead via the flags.
For more trails around Tofino, check out: http://www.tofino-info.com/hiking-trails-tofino-bc-canada/
For more trails on Vancouver Island, check out: http://www.discovervancouverisland.com/top-hiking-spots/
Contributed by: Laurissa Cebryk