Lone Cone on Meares Island
Lone Cone is the wonderful cone shaped mountain that dominates the skyline in Tofino. It is just 6k from Tofino on the north-western end of Meares Island. Lone Cone is an incredible hike to do while in Tofino. There are several attributes that make it fantastic. First, its location. Very close to Tofino. Just a short and very scenic boat taxi takes you to the trailhead. Second, is it is such an abruptly steep hike that you go from the ocean to absurdly sweeping views in just over an hour. Due to the location of Lone Cone requiring a water taxi to access, ensures that it remains serene and quiet most days.
In the 15 minute, fast taxi, you will see a quick look at the spectacular scenery that has made Tofino famous. Small and large islands crammed almost solid with beautifully huge trees. Sandy beaches that make you think more that you are in Hawaii than in Canada. Abrupt, rocky outcrops with chaotic, swirling, clear and green water that the boat taxi/tour guide continuously points to unexpectedly beautiful creatures lurking in. Then you look up in the trees and spot a resident eagle staring menacingly down from a tree branch next to its nest full of offspring. And that's just the first five minutes from the pier.
15 minutes from the pier you arrive at the grungy, though at the same time, strangely beautiful pier at the now abandoned town, Kakawis. There are still a few dozen houses that line the gravel road you will see as you make your way to the trailhead. A resident caretaker still has a boat at the dock, though you will probably not encounter him. You may read in current Tofino guidebooks that you must call ahead to gain permission to cross this private land to access the trailhead is well out of date and obsolete.
If you encounter an emergency on the Lone Cone hike there is excellent cell phone reception from almost anywhere on the trail except a few spotty areas. In an absolute emergency the caretaker may assist you, if you can locate him in the Kakawis village. In 2013 another trailhead was opened slightly closer to Tofino but much further from Lone Cone. This trailhead has a $5 fee to access.
From the pier you follow the gravel road which seems to take you further from Lone Cone. About five minutes down this road you will see the houses of Kakawis on your right, and keeping on the gravel road you will soon see the large "Lone Cone" sign pointing you left to the very well marked trail into the deep forest and muddy first section of the trail.
Though there has been a fair amount of mud avoiding constructions you still might get a bit muddy here. Though you can hop from one tree root to another fairly effectively, a couple slips and stumbles may get you wet and dirty.
1.2k into the hike (from the pier), you finally begin ascending. Slowly at first then at 1.8k steeper and steeper. From this point until the end of the trail the hike averages about 45 degrees! Lone Cone is, near and at the top, quite massive. And though the marked trail ends and the amazing views the exploring has just begun. You could wander for hours through the forest at the top, however, the viewpoints on the marked trail are hard to beat.
At the main viewpoint the is a small and evidently well used place for a fire right at the edge of the cliff. This area also, if you were inclined, have room for a tent or two, though you read at the trailhead that camping is prohibited. There are several suitable places to put your tent if you are keen further into the bush past this viewpoint.
Drop Off Pier for Lone Cone on Meares Island
The quick and inexpensive taxi to the trailhead/pier on Meares Island is $40(return). You can phone or arrange a pickup time before you set off on the trail.
More Boat Access Trails Near Tofino
Meares Island was the centre of dispute in the 80's when the Nuu-chah-nulth protested Macmillan Bloedel's intent to log the island. The Nuu-chah-nulth together with environmental groups blockaded the island and fought in the courts. The court ruled that until the Nuu-chah-nulth's land claim to the island was settled, no development can occur on the whole of Meares Island. This tremendous victory enabled the creation of The Big Tree Trail and its breathtaking star feature, the Hanging Garden Tree. This monster of a tree. A Western Red Cedar, estimated to be older than 1500 years, is enormous. 18 metres around and magnificently tall, it easily is included among Canada's greatest trees. 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. 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. Vargas Island Provincial Park is a popular Kayak camping destination due to its wonderful location close to Tofino. It has wonderful, wilderness camping for free and a beautiful feeling of remoteness from the world. And if you are lucky you might see whales pass in the distance from Ahous Bay. The relaxing trail from the Tofino side of Vargas Island to Ahous Bay is 3 kilometres.