Hikes in Tofino
Hiking along the picturesque coastal landscapes surrounding Tofino is the perfect way to fully appreciate the diversity and natural beauty that British Columbia has to offer. Not only will you be able to experience the wonderfully atmospheric rainforests that characterize the western portions of the province, but you will also be able to explore the coastal playground that offers access to the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean.
While most tourists will come to Tofino during the hotter, dryer summer months, any seasoned traveller to the area will tell you to come explore this oceanside retreat during the off-season. During this time, you will not only avoid the crowds, but you will be able to fully experience the natural beauty of the landscape and atmospheric climate that make this place so unique. Whether you are looking to hike through a dense rainforest filled with ancient trees or take a leisurely stroll along the beach, Tofino is the perfect destination for exploring the rugged coastal areas of Vancouver Island.
The 10 Greatest Hikes In Tofino
While Tofino may be a bit remote in comparison to other cities on Vancouver Island, there are a number of amazing hiking routes in close proximity to the town that can be easily accessed. From relaxing beach walks for beginners to more intense slogs through the dense canopy of the rainforest, you will be sure to find the perfect adventure to match your skill level.
One of the most popular hiking activities in the area - thanks to the picturesque location along the Pacific Ocean - are sunset walks along the beach. With a number of gorgeous sandy beaches only a short drive from Tofino, you will no doubt experience more than your fair share of these stunning sunsets that are framed by the crashing of the waves along the coast. If you are looking for something a bit more challenging and remote, try taking a boat out to a nearby island in order to traverse some more rugged and physically demanding terrain. If you are hiking in Tofino, the one thing that surely won’t be lacking is amazing views that scratch out along the rugged and rocky, yet beautiful terrain of the coast.
- Wild Pacific Trail - Lighthouse Loop: This is a spectacular hike near Ucluelet that provides several beach access points and breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean. This 2.9 km trail is well-maintained and features steep sections, making it ideal for hikers of all ages. With the chance to visit a functional lighthouse, this hike is perfect for those who love picturesque ocean views and visiting historical sites.
- Schooner Cove Trail: This short out-and-back hiking route will take you through the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, providing the chance to experience the wonderfully atmospheric West Coast rainforest while walking along a boardwalk. Make sure to time your hike with the low tide to fully explore the coastal landscape along the stunning Schooners Beach.
- South Beach Trail: This 1.7 km hiking route near Tofino takes you through the dense canopy of a coastal forest to arrive at several vantage points with scenic views of the Pacific Ocean. Enjoy your time on South Beach, a secluded spot along the water where you can watch the waves crash against the rugged rock formations. This hike is also great for whale-watching and checking out the surfers as they ride the waves of Wickaninnish Beach.
- Wild Pacific Trail: The entire Wild Pacific Trail is divided into three non-continuous sections, but this scenic stretch is the longest, following along the shoreline from Brown’s Beach to the Rocky Bluffs near the Ancient Cedars Trail. This hike is great for looking out over the deep blue waters of the ocean and watching the mesmerizing waves crash against the rocky shore.
- Long Beach: This 8.2 km route is more of a leisurely walk along the beach than a true hike. While out on the trail you will experience the scenic coastal atmosphere and take in some amazing views of the Pacific Ocean, before arriving at the rocky terrain surrounding Green Point.
- Cox Bay Lookout: This short route near Tofino will take you up to a scenic vantage point with sweeping views overlooking the bay. Although short, this trail is no cake walk, as you will climb up exposed rocks and roots to access the viewpoint. You will need some basic route finding skills for this journey; however, the incredible views here are well worth the effort, as you will have an amazing sightline overlooking the entire area.
- Big Tree Trail: This scenic loop will take you through the dense rainforests of Meares Island to view several huge and ancient trees. The trail has an almost magical atmosphere, as you walk along the wooden boardwalk and look out onto the mature trees and thick underbrush that characterizes this diverse landscape. You will need to make prior arrangements to access the island, as this trail is only accessible by boat.
- Canso Crash Site Trail: This 5.2 km hiking route south of Tofino will take you across a variety of terrain in the dense forest to reach the location of a Royal Canadian Air Force plane crash that occurred in 1945. This hike is a great option for anyone looking to combine a fun day of hiking with a visit to a unique historical site.
- Radar Hill: This hike follows a very short loop trail that leads you through the forest to reach a charming lookout over the surrounding woodland landscape. Along the trail, you will also be able to visit several interesting historical sites from the Cold War Era. This quick adventure is a great option for those who love the outdoors and historical sites.
- 5040 Peak: This 6.9 km trek will take you uphill past the shores of Cobalt Lake for some amazingly scenic views overlooking the stunning Vancouver Island landscape. Hikers along this trail will experience beautiful woodland scenery, waterfalls, and alpine views as they hike along the Effingham River towards the summit viewpoint.
When is the Best Time to Hike in Tofino
If you are looking to explore Tofino during a time when the weather is most conducive to engaging in outdoor activities, then you will likely want to come during the summer months when the temperature is a bit hotter and less rainy. The downside to this is the throngs of tourists that have the same idea, flooding the small town with a higher volume of visitors to the area and placing more stress on the local infrastructure. If you are looking to avoid the crowds and enjoy the natural beauty of this area in solitude, try planning your next hiking trip between October and May. The weather might be a bit soggy during this off-season period, but you are sure to get the full experience of exploring the wild west coast.
Other Outdoor Activities in Tofino
Tofino’s location along the west coast of Vancouver Island makes it an ideal place for a variety of water sports and sightseeing adventures. Possible activities include boating trips to nearby islands, paddling out on the Pacific Ocean, whale watching excursions, and some of the best surfing that can be found in Canada. If sticking to the land is your idea of a fun adventure, try zip-lining through the rainforest, storm watching along the coast, hitting the links for a few rounds of golf, or exploring the culinary specialties of the area on a food tour. It may be a small town, but there is no shortage of fun activities to do in Tofino.
Frequently Asked Questions About Tofino
What is Tofino known for?
One of Canada’s westernmost towns, Tofino’s location on the west coast of Vancouver Island makes it a prime destination for all things water related. From gorgeous sunsets and long beach walks, to whale watching adventures and some of the best surfing in the country, Tofino is an amazing gateway to the beauty of the Pacific Ocean.
Hope long does it take to get to Tofino from Vancouver?
Travellers looking to take a road trip to Tofino from Vancouver will be in for a long but scenic journey across the rugged expanse of Vancouver Island. First, you will need to drive to the Horseshoe Bay Ferry Terminal, before taking the 1.5-hour ferry to the city of Nanaimo. From there, it is a roughly 3-hour drive across the interior of the island to Tofino.
Does it rain a lot in Tofino?
Due to the temperate rainforest climate of the Tofino area, you can expect to experience a fair amount of rain year-round. Exceptions to this can be found during the summer months, when temperatures increase to produce a bit of a drier climate; however, this also coincides with the busy tourist season.
Best Hikes in Tofino
Wild Pacific Trail
The Wild Pacific Trail is a 5.2 km out-and-back hiking route that travels along the coast in Ucluelet, BC, and provides several areas to view the scenic landscape. While the entire Wild Pacific Trail is broken up into three non-continuous sections, this stretch is the longest and follows the shoreline from Brown’s Beach to the Rocky Bluffs near the Ancient Cedars Trail. Along this route, you will have numerous opportunities to gaze out over the blue waters of the Pacific Ocean and watch its relentless waves crash against the rocky shores.
Wild Pacific Trail – Lighthouse Loop
The Wild Pacific Trail – Lighthouse Loop is a fantastic hiking route near Ucluelet, BC, that offers several beach access points, breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean, and the chance to visit a functional lighthouse. This 2.9 km trail is well-maintained and features no stairs or steep sections, making it ideal for hikers of all skill and mobility levels. This hike is perfect for those who love scenic ocean views, hanging out by the beach, or visiting historical sites.
The hike at Radar Hill is a 0.5 km loop trail that will take you on a short journey from the parking lot and through the forest to a beautiful lookout over the rugged woodland landscape around Tofino. Along the trail, you will be able to check out a few historical sites from the Cold War Era and explore the area atop the hill. This is a brisk hike great for those who love charming scenery and historical sites.
Cox Bay Lookout
The Cox Bay Lookout is a quick 1.0 km out-and-back hiking route near Tofino that will allow you to climb up to a vantage point with a commanding view overlooking the entire bay. This trail is no walk in the park as you will have to scramble exposed rocks and roots to reach the lookout; however, the short adventure and incredible views are worth the trouble as you will have the best sightline in the entire area. You’ll need some basic route-finding skills to locate the trailhead.
The Long Beach Trail is an 8.2 km out-and-back route that is more of a walk along the beach than a true hike. Make your way along the white sandy beach as you take in the coastal atmosphere and gaze out into the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean before arriving at the rocky outcrop of Green Point. This route is a perfect way to get out and explore the beautiful coastal landscape around Tofino.
Schooner Cove Trail
The Schooner Cove Trail is a 1.9 km out-and-back hiking route through the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve near Tofino that will allow hikers to experience the beautiful West Coast rainforest along a boardwalk. Descending the series of wooden steps, you will arrive at the edge of the ocean on Schooners Beach. Time your hike with the low tide to fully explore the coastal landscape.
Big Tree Trail
The Big Tree Trail is a 3.2 km hiking loop near Tofino, BC, that will take you through the rainforests of Meares Island to view several massive, ancient trees. The atmosphere along the trail will almost feel magical as you hike along the wooden boardwalk and look out onto the large trees and thick underbrush that blankets the forest floor. This trail is only accessible by boat, so hikers will need to make arrangements to reach the island.
Willowbrae Trail to Half Moon Bay
Half Moon Bay is a beautifully scenic stretch of beach near Tofino, BC, that can be accessed through a 4.2 km trail through the forest. The route is mainly made up of wooden boardwalks and features many stairs on the descent to the beach. Because of this, hikers with limited mobility might find this route difficult to traverse.
The Rainforest Trail is a 3.2 km circuit through the temperate rainforests near Tofino, BC, that will provide a fun and educational experience. Along the trail, you will find interpretive signs with information about the diverse plant life found in this precious ecosystem. This boardwalk trail is a perfect outing for families and hikers that are interested in their natural surroundings.
Canso Crash Site Trail
The Canso Crash Site Trail is a 5.2 km out-and-back hiking route south of Tofino that traverses various terrain through the forest to reach the site of a Royal Canadian Air Force plane crash from 1945. This hike is perfect for those that are looking to combine a fun day in the forest with an interest in visiting historical sites. The route passes through some very muddy terrain, so wear proper footwear to keep your feet dry on this hike.
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