A LONG BEACH NATURE GUIDE TO:

The Best Hikes in Tofino & Ucluelet

There are so many amazing walks and hikes in the Tofino area that it can be hard to choose which ones to do during your visit. Of course, in a perfect world, it would be amazing if you could explore all of the Tofino hiking routes; however, that would leave little time for anything else!

Tofino and Ucluelet are one of the most visited regions of Vancouver Island, and many people come here specifically for the outstanding hiking and opportunities to escape into nature. But you don't need to be an experienced hiker to enjoy the trails here. Hikes range from less than a half of a kilometre to multi-day treks, with trails for all ability levels. If you have time for only a few short hikes or walks, the best options are the Nuu-chah-nulth Trail, South Beach Trail, Halfmoon Bay Trail, the Shore Pine Bog Trail, Tonquin Beach Trail or the Wild Pacific Trail.


However, if you want to experience some of Tofino's classic signature hikes, see ourTop 2 Best Hikes in Tofino and Ucluelet


#1  THE PACIFIC RIM TRAVERSE

Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

4-6 hours     |     14 km     |     Moderate

The Pacific Rim Traverse in Pacific Rim National Park Long Beach Unit is considered one of the premier day hikes in Tofino and Ucluelet, an iconic experience within easy reach of both communities. The 14 kilometre route is comprised of 4 beautiful beaches and 5 of the National Park's trails, a moderate 4-6 hour trip for most hikers.

The scenery along the Pacific Rim Traverse is simply magnificent, with endless views of the Pacific Ocean, sandy beaches, rugged shoreline and temperate rainforests.

Trail Overview

Begin your hike at Willowbrae trailhead at the entrance to Wya Point Resort. The forest is thick with western hemlock, sitka spruce and western red cedars. This route leads down to the secluded, Halfmoon Bay. A great spot to warm up for the hike ahead and stop for your first snack and water break.

Continuing north along the Pacific Rim Traverse, you arrive at at what locals refer to as South Flo. Passing sharp cliffs of an ancient glacial moraine hike north across this coastline where you often are able to spot Grey Whales from shore. As you near the northern end of Florencia Bay, travel the Nuu-chah-nulth boardwalk trail and keep your eyes out to for unique carnivorous plants and twisted shore pines. Continue on to South Beach where we suggest is a great spot to stop for lunch. Here the wild and beautiful coastline is marked by jagged bluffs, a reminder of the ageless struggle between land and sea.

After lunch, you will pass Lismer Beach and reach the expanse of Wickaninnish Bay. Here you can take a break and visit the Kwistis Visitor Centre where you can find public washrooms, refill your water bottle and walk through the exhibit about the land, sea, sky and people of the area. When you ready to jump back to complete the Pacific Rim Traverse you will continue north across Wickaninnish Beach and dunes until you reach the Combers Beach trail where you will jump back into the forest for the last section of the route.

Hiking the entire trail requires transport to return to the starting trailhead. The easiest way to return to the Willowbrae Road starting point at the end of the hike is to leave a second car at the Combers Beach parking area, or arrange to be picked up. Parties with two cars can start from each end and exchange car keys for the return journey home. There is currently no public transportation between the Willowbrae Road and Combers Beach parking areas. It is possible to hike portions of the Pacific Rim Traverse. Hikers setting out from the Willowbrae Trail can exit at the Florencia Bay parking area (5.5 km) or again at the Kwisitis Center parking area (8.5 km) without backtracking along the trail. If you feel like you are up for a challenge and are motivated to push past the 14 km standard route; it is possible to continue all the way to the end of the Schooner Cove Trail making this a complete traverse of 21 km. But in our experience the 14 km is good for us!

Permits & Fees

An entrance fee* of $20 per vehicle, or $10 per individual, is required to enter Pacific Rim National Park. *The annual Parks Canada Discovery Pass would cover this entrance fee.

When to Hike

Late-May through October is the best time of year to experience this hike. Big ocean swells and swollen creeks block portions of the trail during the winter, making travel difficult. If you hike during the winter season, go with appropriate rain gear and be prepared to cross creeks up to or over your knees. Check the forecast before you hike in winter and spring.

Hike the Pacific Rim Traverse with a Guide

The Pacific Rim Traverse hike is offered everyday in the National Park by Long Beach Nature Tours. The tour company handles transportation, gear, snacks, lunch, and provides a professional, knowledgeable guide so you can focus 100% on enjoying your adventure. Read more…

#2  THE WILDSIDE TRAIL

Flores Island Provincial Park, Clayoquot Sound 

4-6 hours (one way)     |     12 km (one way)     |     Moderate

The Wildside Trail in Flores Island Provincial Park is our favourite hike in Tofino and Ucluelet, a remote and off the beaten path experience within reach of both communities. The 12 kilometre trail is comprised of 8 of Clayoquot Sound's most beautiful beaches, a moderate 4-6 hour trip for most hikers. This hike for the keener can be done in one day as an out and back trip, but we suggest for optimal experience to make this an overnight trip and camp at Cow Bay at the end of the trail; the most stunning beach in the region.

The scenery along the Wildside Trail is epic, with endless views of the Pacific Ocean, sandy beaches, rugged shoreline and temperate rainforests.

Trail Overview

Begin your trip at the First Street Dock in Tofino, where you can catch the 10:15am & 4:30pm scheduled water taxi for about $20. The Ahous Hakuum (water taxi) departs from the Lone Cone Office in Tofino & from the Ahous Fuel Stop on Flores Island daily. The boat ride from Tofino to Flores Island is approximately 30-45 minutes, with a lot of beautiful scenery along the way. Once you arrive in the village of Ahousaht on Flores Island, you begin the walk through town (15min) to reach the trailhead at you first beach of the route.

Continuing along the Wildside Trail, you jump from one beautiful beach to the next, crossing over short trails through ancient rainforests between the sandy shores. At the end of each beach, look out for fishing buoys hanging in the trees marking the entrance to the next trail section. These will be your route markers all the way to the end of the trail and back. Keep your eyes out for animal tracks in the sand as you hike, it is often to find many species that use this trails as well including wolves, bears and cougars! Half way across the trail you will come across Kutcous Creek, your first source of fresh water along the trail and a great place to stop for a snack. From here at low tide you can either wade across Kutcous Creek to shave approximately 1 hour off of your hike or if the tide is too high and you can't wade across, you can take the trail up the river to Kutcous Bridge where you will rejoin the trail. As you continue on, each little cove you cross, the scenery just keeps getting better and better.

At the 10km mark, you will be getting really close to the end of the trail as you hike through the last forest section of the route arriving shortly at the sandy Cow Bay in Flores Island Provincial Park. It is an absolute shame if you don't plan your time to at least enjoy a few hours relaxing at this beach before turning around and hiking back to catch the water taxi back from Ahousaht. There is endless beach combing to be had here at Cow Bay, and a great place to set up a hammock for a quick afternoon snooze. If you only have the one day to do this trek, you better hustle back as 22km is a big day of hiking even for experienced hikers. We highly recommend bringing along your camping gear and spending the night here at Cow Bay before taking the trail back to Ahousaht in the morning.

Hiking the entire trail requires water taxi transport drop off in Ahousaht and pick up to return to Tofino. The trail can be done is a 22km day hike out as an out and back, or a 2 day overnight out and back hike only hiking 11 km each day and is the recommended option. Otherwise, you can hire a private water taxi or to drop you off at Cow Bay in the morning and hike the trail as a one way to Ahousaht which can easily be done as a day trip. The easiest way to do this is to book a guided tour which departs Tofino daily; visit Long Beach Nature's day hike here.

Permits & Fees

There is a $15 permit fee $10.00 per night/Camping for accessing the trail that is payable at the trail office in Ahousaht. The water taxi will be $20 per person each way.

When to Hike

Late-May through October is the best time of year to experience this hike. Big ocean swells and swollen creeks block portions of the trail during the winter and is closed during winter months. Check the forecast before you hike.

Hike the Wildside Trail with a Guide

The Wildside Trail hike is offered everyday by Long Beach Nature Tours. The tour company handles private transportation, gear, snacks, lunch, and provides a professional, knowledgeable guide so you can focus 100% on enjoying your adventure. Read more…

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