By Cherie Baxter
One of Vancouver Island’s most popular and beautiful destinations is Tofino and once you have visited, it is easy to see why. The land is diverse with lush rainforest, magnificent beaches and incredible hiking trails with opportunity to see wildlife from many of the viewing areas available.
For those who have not been to Tofino, the drive from Victoria takes about 4 hours and 15 minutes. Drive north on the Trans Canada Highway #1 for 104 kms and then use the right 2 lanes to turn slightly right onto Highway 19. After another 48.7 kms take the exit onto Highway 60 to Port Alberni, merge onto Memorial Rd/ Highway 4 W, and turn right onto Pacific Rim Hwy. This will lead you onto Campbell St. which is the main road through the town of Tofino. There are many beautiful places to stay in both Tofino and Ucluelet ranging from camping to resorts.
The longest of our suggested Tofino hikes is Lone Cone. Located on Meares Island, to get to Lone Cone, you must have some way of water transport. The Tofino Water Taxi can be hired for approximately $40 per person return and takes about 15 minutes.
Although the distance is 7kms, it is the terrain that makes this hike a challenging one. The extraordinary mountain hike ascends 700-metres in just over 1.5 kms so it is suggested to be prepared at this fitness level. Wear sturdy footwear as there can be muddy and slippery sections as well as places where you need to climb over and around large roots and fallen trees. The beginning climb is relatively easy until you hit the point of the massive elevation gain headed up the mountain side. There are openings in the trees to take advantage of the spectacular views. There are multiple viewpoints once you have reached the top to look out over Clayoquot Sound. Upon your return down the steep mountain, use caution as it can be easy to lose your footing in the loose gravel and slippery trails. Once you have reached the bottom, take in the views of your accomplishment.
Canso Plane Crash Site
In February, 1945, shortly after takeoff, a Royal Canadian Air Force Canso 11007 crashed on the hillside near Radar Hill. A crew of 12 people were on board and all 12 survived with a few broken bones, cuts and bruises.
There is a 5 km trail through a very muddy bog which takes you to the Canso Plane Crash site. This makes the trail much more strenuous. Follow the pathway through an old abandoned, dilapidated building exiting out the back continuing on to the bog. Depending on the time of year, the mud can reach knee level so dress accordingly and be prepared for this stretch of the trail to take a little longer than you may have anticipated. Beyond the bog, there is a circular pond created from detonation of the bombs from the crashed plane. Just a little further along the trail you are able to see the plane. Take the opportunity to view this piece of history from different angles to see inside before carefully heading back down through the trail you came.
Hot Springs Cove
Northwest of Tofino, in Maquinna Provincial Park, is a remote destination called Hot Springs Cove. This awe-inspiring day trip starts by a 1 – 1.5 hour water taxi trip or a 20-minute float plane flight from Tofino. Keep this in mind when scheduling time so there is enough time to get back to the dock for a ride back to Tofino once your done. The adventure to get to the trail is a major part of the fun and this secluded area is filled with amazing wildlife such as bears, eagles, seals, and whales.
The trail is a rather easy 2km hike along boardwalks and wooden stairs. Once you arrive at the hot springs there is a place to get changed. It is suggested to wear footwear of some kind down to the pools as the rocks are very sharp. Relax in the geothermally heated water from Earth’s crust mixed with the cool, ocean water for a delightful soak. Return back the way you came to await your boat or plane ride.
South of Long Beach in Pacific Rim National Park there is one of Tofino’s most popular trails called the Rainforest Trail. This hike is made up of two routes, one on each side of the highway. The parking lot is located on the ocean side of the highway. Many locals from both Ucluelet and Tofino use these trails so they can be a little busier during peak tourism season.
The first route starts on the east side of the highway but as the parking lot is on the west side, you must cross the highway by foot. The speed limit on this highway is 80 kms per hour so be patient and wait for the safest time to cross. Once the 2 km trail leaves the highway behind, you pass under two old trees lying across the path. There are a series of wooden stairs and boardwalks throughout this majestic west coast trailway. And watch for one ancient tree nearly twice the size of most surrounding it along the way.
The second of the two routes is also about 2 kms on the ocean side of the highway looping through more of The Pacific Rim National Park’s gorgeous and serene forest trail. Parts of the path are wooden stairways which ascend on your return.
Wild Pacific Trail (Lighthouse Loop)
This looping trail called the Lighthouse Loop is part of the Wild Pacific Trail and runs along the edge of Amphitrite Point Lighthouse. If you time your visit to this hiking trail right, storm season provides an incredible view of the ocean waves along the rocky coastline. The power of the ocean colliding with the rocky landscape creating immense waves is simply astounding. The 2.6 km path is fairly easy and begins at the lighthouse and along the shoreline with many viewpoints at the trail’s side to sit and watch. Eventually the hike cuts into the forest and loops back to the parking lot where you began.