Rainforest Trails - Tofino & Clayoquot Sound Trails
The Rainforest Trails are a fantastic, deep, dark, wet and wonderful walk through a giant cedar forest. There are two beautiful 1km rainforest loop trails. One on the ocean side of the highway, the other on the forest side. Both are equally beautiful 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 experience this is the place to go. The forest is deep, wet and massive. Very massive. The wonderful aroma of nature fills your lungs as this incredibly elaborate boardwalk runs along massive nurse logs, huge cedars and an astounding array of young and ancient trees.
The Rainforest Trails are far more than a walk through a rainforest. There are frequent, interpretive boards depicting in wonderful detail the inner workings of the forest.
"The temperate rainforest - surging undergrowth, massive trees, splintered snags and rotting logs sprouting tiny seedlings. This is an ancient forest, but more than that, it is an intricate self-renewing ecosystem. Consider your walk through it as a cycle. Just as you will end up where you began, so plants grow, die and nourish other generations in continuing cycles."
Halfway along one trail you come to two bright red, adirondack chairs in a spacious viewing platform against a massive tree. Another interpretive board indicates that you may spot coho fry in the stream below. "Here, the salmon's epic journey from egg to adult interlocks with the forest's own cycle of growth and decay. When snags topple into streams, the water slows down, reducing bank erosion and creating pools suitable for rearing young salmon. Rotting wood and leaves trapped by natural log dams area eaten by insects that, in turn, feed salmon."
You come out of this forest in awe of how beautiful Pacific Rim Park is. This is the away-from-the-ocean,t at its best. And there are two trails, remarkably different, so really it's a figure 8 trail. Do it all and marvel at the wonderful, wet and wild . Both trails can easily be done in under an hour.
Direction to the Rainforest Trails
From Tofino drive along the Pacific Rim Highway for 23 kilometres and you will see the sign for the Rainforest Trail on your right. If coming from Ucluelet, drive for 18 kilometres and you will see the Rainforest Trail sign indicating to turn left to the parking lot. Both trails leave from this parking lot, however, one of the trails is on the other side of the highway. As the Rainforest Trails are within Pacific Rim National Park they are pay to use and you must have or purchase a park pass at the parking area.
More Trails Near the Rainforest Trails
The Nuu-chah-nulth Trail is an amazing interpretive trail that gives a glimpse of First Nations culture as it meanders 2.5 kilometres through the rainforest from Florencia Bay to Wickaninnish Beach. At Wickaninnish Beach there is the wonderful Interpretation Centre, the Kwisitis Visitor Centre, as well as the spectacular . Also known as the Wickaninnish Trail, the Nuu-chah-nulth Trail Trail is one of the most interesting and beautiful trails between Ucluelet and Tofino. The interpretive trail has several beautiful and informative stops along the way identifying the history and fauna of the area. After about 30 minutes of hiking through the deep forest, mostly along the nice boardwalk you come to a great viewpoint. From here you can turn left and in just 200 metres reach South Beach, or turn right, continue on the Nuu-chah-nulth Trail and in 600 metres arrive at the amazing Kwisitis Information Centre(museum) and Kwisitis Feast House(Restaurant). The Kwisitis Visitor Centre is a beautiful and astonishingly elaborate little museum next to the very nice Kwisitis Feast House(previously the Wickaninnish Restaurant). Both the Centre and the Restaurant lay in the rainforest of Quisitis Point that separates Wickaninnish Beach and Florencia Bay. The restaurant has incredible views and the Kwisitis Visitor Centre is free. Kwisitis, in the Nuu-chah-nulth language, means "other end of the beach". The restaurant and visitor centre are in a very nice building perched on a point in the middle of seemingly endless beaches in either direction. The restaurant is perched so far out on this point of land that you feel as though you have ocean all around you. There is a huge sundeck outside the restaurant where you have the ocean crashing below 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. Hiking/walking the is a surreal experience. As you wander through this weather beaten forest that looks nothing like anything else you've seen in the rest of the park. It is absolutely bizarre. Pacific Rim National Park is almost entirely rainforest. Giant trees, wet, mossy ground, dead and decaying giant trees, laying on the dark, wet forest floor. And yet the looks more like a desert. Everything looks blasted by wind, and unexpectedly dry, very dry. 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. The Willowbrae Trail is a fairly quiet trail as compared to other beach trails in Pacific Rim National Park. The trail is easy and flat to begin as you hike along the straight and flat gravel path. This trail is prominent in the local history as a connecting route to Tofino. Before the current highway was built in 1942, the route to Tofino was usually via sea and land right through what is now the Willowbrae Trail. A nice map and information board along the trail points out what historic interests to look out for.. "Notches on old growth stumps that held springboards on which loggers stood to fell the giant trees. Abandoned homestead sites characterized by young second growth trees crowded together with littler shrubbery or undergrowth." The abandoned homestead sites have been obliterated by the forest but the notches in fantastically huge tree stumps are everywhere.