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.