Radar Hill in Tofino - Tofino & Clayoquot Sound Trails
Radar Hill is definitely one of the Tofino sights not to be missed. It's a quick and easy walk to the top and the views are beautiful. Definitely one of the few places in Tofino where you can see above the forest see where you are. Almost everywhere else in Pacific Rim Park you are engulfed in trees or down by the ocean. From Radar Hill you rise above everything and there is even a mapboard at the summit naming the visible landmarks you can see on a clear day. Owing to Radar Hill being a military construction you can drive right to it. The 100 metre walk to the top of the hill and viewpoints takes only five or so minutes.
Radar Hill dates back to 1954 and the early days of the Cold War. The Soviet Union was seen as a nuclear threat and a series of radar stations were built by Canada and the Unites States. Several lines of radar stations could provide warning of an attack from long range bombers. Radar Hill was part of the Pinetree Line, the southernmost of these early warning radar lines. Not long after its construction, however, the shift from long range bombers to intercontinental ballistic missiles made radar stations like Radar Hill obsolete. Now, decades later, only the cement foundations of Radar Hill remain.
The large buildings that once housed the huge power generators, fuel tanks and control rooms are now the upper and lower Radar Hill parking areas. At the top of the hill there are four large clearings. These were the radar towers and now serve as viewing areas with seats and murals of the area and the wonderful Kap'yong Memorial.
In 1997, Canada and Korea declared the twinning of Pacific Rim National Park and the Hallyo Haesang Sea National Park(south coast of South Korea). There is a large and moving memorial at the top of Radar Hill depicting the famous battle at Kap'yong during the Korea War.
On the night of 22 April 1951, Chinese and North Korean forces attacked American and Republic of Korea(ROK) troops north of Seoul. Heavy losses inflicted on the ROK army and the withdrawal of the American Corps required the intervention of the 27th Commonwealth Brigade, consisting of the 2nd Battalion Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry(PPCLI) as well as Australian and British regiments. Through April 23rd, the battered 6th ROK division withdrew down the Kap'Yong River valley, protected by the Australians on Hill 504 and the Canadians across the river on Hill 677. Attacked relentlessly, the Australians were also forced to withdraw. The enemy then ordered an assault on the Canadian position. The battle, lit only by flares, was fought hand to hand. Outnumbered and about to be overrun, the Princess Pats D Company ordered allied mortar and artillery fire on their own position, routing the enemy. The bombardment forced a Chinese retreat. Honoured for exceptional bravery, the PPCLI received a Unit Citation from the President of the United States, the only Canadian battalion to ever receive this distinction. This memorial honours those Canadian who fought for freedom and ensures that those who made the supreme sacrifice at Kap'Yong will never be forgotten.
Radar Hill serves two purposes. The first as a war memorial that has evolved from a military radar station. The second as an amazing place to take in the world. Tofino is young. Sort of. It's only been a massive tourist draw for a couple decades. But for a lot longer than that its been a lot more. And Radar Hill has featured in thousands of peoples memories. For an obvious and powerful reason. The view is incredible. If ever there was a perfect place to have an picnic, share a beer or toast to something. This place is it.
Directions to Radar Hill
Radar Hill is just a short, 10 minute drive from Tofino. Driving from Tofino on Highway #4 look for the sign for Radar Hill on your right. Turn, and park at either parking lot, however the first parking area is nearest to the trailhead. The challenging, muddy, overgrown and unmarked trail to beautiful Radar Beach starts from the far parking lot.
More Trails and Beaches Near Radar Hill
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. Grice Bay is not really a hike but a setting off point for kayakers and boaters. Tofino Inlet, Cannery Bay, Tranquil Inlet, Fortune Channel, Dawley Passage Provincial Park as well as Kennedy River are all attractions for boaters from here. There is a nice boat launch and lots parking. Kayakers frequently depart from here to explore the sheltered waters away from the open ocean out past Tofino. Usually quiet and serene, sometimes Grice Bay can be a hive of activity due to its popularity as a boat launch for tour operators, recreational boaters as well as fishermen. At Grice Bay you will find a small picnic area and pit toilets and a small grassy area. There are great views of the bay and islands beyond. The beautiful trail to Schooner Cove starts just at the top end of Pacific Rim National Park near Tofino. Schooner Cove also sits near the top or northern end of Long Beach which continues south from here for 10 kilometres! Almost immediately you are struck by the enormous trees. Hundreds of years old, these monsters are everywhere along this trail. The Schooner Cove trail and Schooner Cove itself is much quieter and even at times secluded feeling when compared to other Pacific Rim National Park beaches and hiking trails. Long Beach is the wonderfully accessible beach that spans the middle of Pacific Rim National Park for several kilometres. It's the longest stretch of surf swept sand on west coast of Vancouver Island. In fact, if you include Florencia Bay, Wickaninnish Beach, Combers Beach and Schooner Cove with Long Beach, then it is the longest sand dune on Vancouver Island. Surfing, walking and wandering the beach are the main activities here. Winter storm watching and summer sunshine make Long Beach hard to beat. The Spruce Fringe Trail in Pacific Rim National Park is located at the edge of Long Beach, 22 kilometres from or 19 kilometres from Ucluelet. The trail begins as gravel then a wonderful boardwalk and then leads to a stunning force of nature. The Krummholz Tunnel is a weather blasted tunnel of trees. Thick and surprisingly dense, this bizarre feature of the Spruce Fringe Trail has a nice information board explaining it and it's wondrous formation.. "Closer to the sea, the trees contort and huddle together against the weather. The Rainforest Trail is a fantastic, deep, dark, wet and wonderful walk through a giant tree forest. There are, in fact, two beautiful 1km rainforest loop trails. One on the ocean side of the highway, the other on the forest side. Both are equally nice and both have an elaborate boardwalk system that at times seems luxurious as it keeps you tidily above the deep, mossy, wet, and chaotic forest floor. For an amazing, jungle-like experience this is the place to go. The forest is deep, wet and massive.