Spruce Fringe Trail & Combers Beach
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 ocean's influence has created the spruce fringe but also limits plant growth and form. Strong winds, laden with salt spray and abrasive sand have shorn off the seaward tips of the trees, pruning them into a tight wedge. Behind this living windbreak, other spruce are able to grow tall and straight. Inside the krummholz tunnel the dense tree canopy blocks the light so few plants can grow on the forest floor. Instead, some shrubs have grown as tall as the trees!"
A short side trail leads to Combers Beach. Combers Beach is yet another beautiful and huge beach. Similar to the neighbouring Long Beach it is fun for everyone with lots of room to play and stunning sunsets. Here is an aerial video of Combers Beach starting from the entrance of a little log house.
Directions to the Spruce Fringe Trail & Combers Beach
To find the trailhead to the Spruce Fringe Trail and Combers Beach drive 22 kilometres from Tofino or 19 kilometres from Ucluelet on the Pacific Rim Highway and look for the sign for Combers Beach leading to the Combers Beach parking lot. The Spruce Fringe Trail is within Pacific Rim National Park and therefore pay to use. Remember to have a park pass or buy one at the parking lot/trailhead.
More Trails Near the Spruce Fringe Trail & Combers Beach
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. It is popular and huge, so you don't feel crowded even in the busiest of summer days. Incinerator Rock lays just steps from the parking lot and is great to climb and enjoy the view. Radar Beach is one of the innumerable places that makes this part of the world so amazing. It is difficult to get to due to it having an unmarked trailhead, steep and muddy trail, and considerable climbing and crawling above and below fallen trees. Where the other popular beach trails in the area have elaborate and expensive boardwalks and stairs, Radar Beach does not. And hopefully never will. This difficult trail ensures Radar Beach as a secluded paradise in the midst of the sometimes crowded and chaotic, nearby beaches. The unmarked hiking trail begins at the end of the Radar Hill parking lot. Indiscreetly, a well used trail disappears steeply down towards the ocean, and within minutes you find yourself clinging to a rope as you ascend steeply. The trail is easy to follow in the daytime, however, you would have great difficulty keeping to the trail after dark. Radar Hill should not be missed while visiting Tofino. The views are beautiful, one of the few places in Tofino where you can see where you are. Usually you are engulfed in trees or down by the water. From Radar Hill you rise above everything. This is not really a hiking trail, but rather a short, very scenic, uphill walk to the monument and views. A wonderfully written memorial sits at the top of Radar Hill which describes the harrowing battle during the Korean War that involved the 27th Commonwealth Brigade. 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. 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. 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.