The Best of Tofino Beaches and Trails
Tofino Hiking Trails & Tofino Beaches
Based on a 1-5 scale with 1 being easy and 5 being difficult.
Walked by a healthy adult at a leisurely pace with a leisurely attitude.
Take into consideration if travelling with children, older persons or if you
Distance - A rough guide and is based on the total return trip.
AOK - Dogs are Welcome - Please keep your humans on leash.
Beaches - When you see the beach ball there is a beach at that location.
Surfing Beach - oh yeah!
A great beach on the other side of town. Looks out to a small island and is very sandy. Bike or drive through town and up to the end of Tonquin Park Road. Park there and walk down the steps (there are a few of them) to the beach.
View GoTofino's board for the new Tonquin Boardwalk here.
MacKenzie Beach Difficulty 1
Great family and low key hanging out beach. A calm water beach that kids can enjoy. Sometimes in winter waves roll in for surfing, but usually flat enough to launch a kayak. Lots of campers so it's got that relaxed feel.
Chesterman Beach has two sections but is really one long beautiful beach. Both are sandy and are enjoyed by visitors and locals alike. The North end boasts a lighthouse with rocky islands and lots of sand to play in or walk on and hard pack sand to run on. The two sections connect by Frank Island. Surfing is popular for beginners and experts on both North and South Chesterman Beach.
Chesterman Beach has two sections but is really one long beautiful beach. Both are sandy and are enjoyed by visitors and local alike. The South end is great walk along the beach and take in the sights. There are two good surfing areas here; a calmer area out front and a bigger wave area to the South. The two sections connect by Frank Island. Surfing is popular on both North and South Chesterman Beach.
Cox Bay Difficulty1
Cox Bay Beach is just south of Chesterman (with Rosie Bay in-between) and is a great beach for surf, although it can be a bit tough getting out to the green at times for beginners. Fun beach to walk end to end with tide pools at south end and Sunset Point Walk at the north.You get a wonderful view from Sunset Point and can watch the surfers in Rosie Bay.
Drive along a treed country road to take in a panorama of Clayoquot Sound from the viewpoints on Radar Hill. Formerly part of the Pinetree Line Defence System
, Radar Hill was one of the radar stations used as early warning of air strikes to North America during WWII. Now clear of buildings the short path takes you to beautiful vistas and around the former station area. The second parking lot at the end of the road is very close to a viewpoint if anyone in your group has difficulty walking.
Two trails that take you to the heart of an ancient rainforest. Giant trees, soft hanging moss, ferns with open inviting fronds and other forest plants welcome you to stroll the boardwalk and learn about their home. The two looped trails take you by salmon spawning streams, huuuuge cedars, stately snags, and nurse logs letting you see how the community of nature all nurtures each other.
this trail at Comber's Beach through a Sitka spruce forest and be guided by the
plaques explaining the botanical life of the forest. With Sitka spruce at the
oceans fringe the forest opens up to a more diverse collection of plant life
moving away from the sea's salt and wind. A gentle trail with one set of stairs
that loops back to the beginning.
Boardwalk through rainforest with some ups and downs. Comes out at a wide secluded beach in Schooner Cove at the North end of Long Beach. If walking with little ones or older ones, have an energetic person walk back to the lot and drive to meet you at Long Beach while you walk the short distance along the level sand to the top of Long Beach. Or head north on the beach to explore.
This is it - the longest sand beach on the west coast of Vancouver Island. Surfers, kayakers, swimmers, sand castle builders, frisbee throwers, walkers, talkers and thinkers come to be inspired by the sights and sounds of this beautiful beach. Bring lots for lunch and stay for dinner over a beach fire. Watch the sun set deep into the ocean and feel that direct line from you out to the universe.
The Wickaninnish Interpretive Centre is perched on the shore of the Pacific at the end of Wick Road. This information centre and interpretive facility focuses on the natural and cultural heritage of Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. An all-terrain wheelchair is available for use. The centre is open mid March to mid October.
This trail is named after Chief Wickaninnish, a leader of the Nuu-Chah-Nulth people. We like to think of it also named after his wife who probably kept things running smoothly for him to go out and become such a big chief. The trail connects Long Beach to Florencia Bay. It links off from the South Beach Trail at the top of the first hill - turn left at the sign. Look for signs of old corduroy road while enjoying this lovely forest route that both the natives and the early settlers used. Pause for a moment and listen for their stories that are carried on the wind and gather on the tree branches. The trail ends at a parking area or you can continue down to Florencia Bay. Consider hiking boots on a wet day - this trail can be muddy!
Want to hear the real Rolling Stones? Start this trail at the back of the Wickaninnish Centre and after a level section the trail splits into two and one continues to South Beach. The beach is well-known for it's singing stones. As the waves roll in they rock the stones and the stones rock on! Come for the music, stay and watch the theatre of big breakers. Keep well clear of the powerful waves and you're rockin'! Great place for a picnic.
Florencia Bay Beach Trail is a short trail that first takes in the view over Florencia Bay then leads down a set of steps to a wonderful open beach. It is one of the trails close to the Wickaninnish Centre. Drive and start at the parking lot close by or include this trail as part of Willowbrae Trail. Florencia Bay is also known locally as as Wreck Bay.
Better than a trip around a movie set, this bog would be the perfect place for a scary movie. Distorted, warped and twisted describe these incredible pine trees. Growing under stressed conditions (acidic soil) they are barely metres tall after hundreds of years! Check out the small but deadly sundews that trap insects on their sticky leaves for dinner: the peat moss that grows meters deep (who knows what's under there?) and the many other brave plants and flowers that call this totally cool bog home. All is explained in the brochures that are available to visitors so make sure you grab one for your tour. The boardwalk is wide and good for a group or wheelchairs. It's a short trail and really, really fascinating so take your time - and keep clear of the sundews
Willowbrae Trail Difficulty 4 (steep stairs) | Distance 2.9 km
Ever hear of a corduroy road? Take this trail and you'll be travelling the footsteps of the early settlers when they travelled this corduroy road (road built of logs laid down beside each other - like corduroy). between Tofino & Ucluelet. Walking along a boardwalk the trail is rolling and level. The boardwalk forks close to the ocean and you can choose to go down some steep stairs to Half Moon Bay (cove) or Florencia Bay (beach).
End of Willowbrae Trail that offers extensive views that are breathtaking. The trail begins amongst old-growth cedars and descends under spruce trees coiled like curlicues from the ocean storms. The trees seem so brave to grow where they do.
Lone Cone Hike Difficulty 5
If it's a challenging day hike you're looking for, check into the Lone Cone mountain hike. Located on Catface Island, the hike travels up to a life-affirming view. You are surrounded by three majestic peak Catface, Colnett and Lone Cone. Many consider it a right of passage in Tofino and it's a perfect hike to lift both body and spirits. This is a wilderness hike and like a lot of activities here one should be prepared for emergencies, and perhaps a night out should things go a little slower than planned. Plenty of water is an absolute must. And, if you feel a burning sensation in your legs - well, that's normal, we all feel that. This trail is accessed initially by boat from Tofino, once on the island you must ask permission to cross property to the beginning of the trail. The hike is a constant uphill grind, with some scrambles and while we feel the reward is in the journey, the view from the top is breath-taking (yes, that's a little joke). Be careful at the top because there are drop-offs. I suffer from vertigo and it's a bit overwhelming for me so be warned. Also, take care coming down, sometimes you get going a bit fast.
2 | Distance 3 km
Follow the trail along Lost Shoe Creek and take your chance panning for gold as the earlier settlers did in the 1900s. Logged in the 1960's this area shows how forgiving Nature can be by regenerating a alder, cedar and fir forest. The path has no stairs. Access to the beach may be restricted due to winter storms.
Tofino Hiking Trails By Kayak or Boat
Surrounded by the tall trees of the West Coast rainforest, Cougar Annie's garden is a place of strange and compelling beauty. The garden consists of a five-acre clearing, crisscrossed with over two kilometres of meandering pathways and dotted with outbuildings that once housed goats and chickens. Resurrected from a tangle of salal, Scotch broom, and salmonberry, this garden has endured for nearly one hundred years. Operated under the auspices of the Boat Basin Foundation (a non-profit foundation whose prime asset is 117 acres of wilderness land) the garden is located inside Hesquiat Harbour in Clayoquot Sound. Website.
Big Tree Trail is on Meares Island and that's why it rates a 2 in difficulty. Not that it's difficult to get to by kayak or charter boat but there is a bit of a transition from boat to island that may be a challenge for some. Otherwise the trail is a lovely boardwalk stroll through ancient forest to the Hanging Garden Tree. The tree is estimated to be more than 2,000 years old and is 18.3 metres (60 feet) in circumference. Big Tree Trail Photo page
| Larger Photo Big Tree Trail Slideshow
* Stick it on your fridge * Fold it into your pocket * Put it up by your coffee maker * Tape it to your dashboard
Jump in your kayak and bird watch in Jensen's Bay, paddle up Lemmen's Inlet, grab your board and go for a surf at high tide, check out tide pools on your favourite beach at low tide, build a sand castle and let the ocean claim it, start a beach fire and watch the stars until the tide rolls in. In Tofino, we do it with the tides!
Flowers and Mushrooms
Colourful, brilliant flowers are everywhere in the spring. With the backdrop
of green forest, these wild and tended flowers brighten up our world each spring
with their promise of hot sunny days. Need a hit of colour? Check
out these spring flowers and lift your spirits.
is a good time to keep your eye open for mushrooms in the woods. We found a flush
of morels in an area that had been dug up and then laid with bark mulch. They
were delicious! We've found many other species big and small, a few of which
appear on the spring mushroom photo page
a walk in the forest in the fall carries the added delight of fall mushrooms.
With the bit of rainfall we've had, many different species are showing up throughout
the forest. We've found many other species classic and strange, a few of which
appear on the fall mushroom photo page
delicate, beautiful Chanterelle mushrooms! They abound in our forests and we
enjoyed their golden colour, their vase like shape and their gorgeous texture
and taste. See it all on our Chanterelle
Mushroom photo page
elusive and highly prized Matsutake or Pine mushroom are always a treasure hunt.
Some people claim to find them by smell, others see the tops of them peeking
out of the forest floor. Me - I just follow those two types of people. See the
magnificent Matsutake mushrooms on our Matsutake
or Pine Mushroom photo page
If you're lucky you may see many mushrooms on your wanderings. They are great
at camouflage so look closely (hint: look for contrast). Unless you are a mycologist,
do not taste test any mushroom - but you may use this mushroom
to check the id of the mushrooms you spied in the forest.
Raincoast Interpretive Centre offers environmental education
and interpretive programs. It houses displays, a library and a children's discovery
Wickaninnish Interpretive Centre is perched on the shore of the Pacific at the
end of Wick Road. This information centre and interpretive facility focuses on
the natural and cultural heritage of Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. An all-terrain
wheelchair is available for use. The centre is open mid March to mid October.
The Ucluelet Mini Aquarium is one of the coolest places to visit. It is a collection
of sea life that is captured by the aquarium's divers, placed into viewing tanks,
then released back into the ocean.
Coast Vancouver Island North
Coast Vancouver Island South
Tofino Tide Tables