Last Updated on February 1, 2023
Best Tofino Hiking Trails
If you’re looking for the best hiking trails in Tofino and Ucluelet, look no further! In this blog post, we will highlight some of our favorite hikes in the area. From easy nature walks to more challenging treks through the rainforest, there’s something for everyone. So grab your hiking boots and get ready to explore some of the most beautiful scenery on Vancouver Island!
There’s More To Tofino Than Surfing
Tofino’s world-renowned for its amazing surfing, but if surfing isn’t your thing, there are other ways to get out in Tofino. The area’s location at the coast and proximity to Pacific Rim National Park offers a plethora of rainforest trails, beach strolls, and minor mountains to scale.
Incredible Hiking Trails
Tofino is a spectacular place with many beautiful hiking trails through stunning scenery. The primary features are a primeval rainforest and numerous breathtaking beaches. The rainforest is home to some of Canada’s oldest documented trees, including enormous specimens that are hundreds of years old.
Many of the hiking routes meander through ancient-growth forests and beaches that seem to stretch forever. The majority of the hikes described here are in Tofino or close by, although a few are further south, near Ucluelet.
All of the hikes listed here have easily accessible trailheads that can be reached by car.
To help you plan your hike, we’ve put together a list of some of the best trails in the area. Be sure to screenshot a copy of the hikes that interest you before you go!
Table Of Contents
- Best Tofino Hiking Trails
- There’s More To Tofino Than Surfing
- Incredible Hiking Trails
- How Long Are The Hikes?
- Best Tofino Hiking Trails (Our Picks!)
- Parking Pass Required
- Bear Spray
- Getting To Tofino
- Best Tofino Hiking Trails: Hiking Tofino, Ucluelet, and Pacific Rim National Park
- Rainforest Trail
- Meares Island Hike (Big Tree Trail)
- Radar Hill
- Combers Beach Trail
- Lighthouse Loop, Ucluelet
- Ancient Cedars, Ucluelet
- Florencia Bay
- South Beach
- Tonquin Trail
- Shorepine Bog Trail
- Schooner Cove Trail (May Be Closed)
- Canso Plane Crash
- Long Beach
- Hot Spring Cove Boardwalk Trail
- Cox Bay Mountain Trail
- Nuu Chah Nulth Trail
- Hikes To Do Between Nanaimo and Tofino
- Incredible Tofino Hiking Trails
How Long Are The Hikes?
The hikes in this area are mostly short, ranging up to five kilometers roundtrip. The distance you walk can greatly differ based on how much of the beach you explore, too. Because many of these are so short, you may also expect to do two or three treks in a day.
Our list of the best hikes in Tofino can help you pick your paths.
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Best Tofino Hiking Trails (Our Picks!)
Canso Plane Crash – This hike is a moderate four kilometers return and takes you to the site of a WWII plane crash. The hike to the Canso Plane Crash Site begins at the lower parking lot of Radar Hill. It is one of the coolest hikes in Tofino. Even better, is that everyone aboard survived the crash!
Cox Bay Lookout – This hike is an easy one-kilometer return hike with a spectacular ocean view. The Cox Bay Lookout hike begins at the south end of Cox Beach, through one of the paths going up the rocks.
Lighthouse Loop – This hike is just down the road in Ucluelet. The trail is an easy 4km loop hike that takes you to the Amphitrite Lighthouse. The hike to the lighthouse is an easy one with a few incline sections, though the trail is along a loose gravel path.
Parking Pass Required
You need a Parks Canada pass to leave your car at the trailhead if you want to hike in Pacific Rim National Park. The park pass can be purchased in the parking lot – it resembles a Pay Parking machine – and the ticket may be left on your dashboard.
If you are planning on exploring a lot of Canadian National Parks over the next year (a year is from the date of purchase of your pass), investing in a yearly Parks Canada pass is an excellent idea. We have one and it paid for itself in a week of usage.
At other Tofino trails, you will be required to pay for parking — a Parks Canada Pass will not work. It was usually $6 for two hours, and $3 for every additional hour, up to a maximum of $12/day.
Tofino is a beautiful place to explore, but it’s important to remember that it is also bear country. If you’re planning on spending time in the great outdoors, it’s always a good idea to bring along bear spray. Bear spray is a non-lethal way to deter bears, and it can be used in both offensive and defensive situations. When used properly, bear spray can be highly effective at deterring bears and keeping them at a safe distance. It’s important to remember, however, that bear spray is not a panacea. It should always be used in conjunction with other safety measures, such as making noise and staying aware of your surroundings. By taking some simple precautions, you can help ensure that your time in bear country is both safe and enjoyable.
Read up on what to do if you come into contact with a Black Bear here: What To Do During A Black Bear Encounter
Being educated on what to do is the best way to keep yourself safe during encounters with wildlife.
Getting To Tofino
The tiny town of Tofino is located on the west coast of Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada. It’s about a five-hour drive from Victoria, the capital city of BC, and a seven to eight-hour drive from Vancouver, with a ferry ride.
There are several ways to get to Tofino. You can fly into the small airport, take a ferry from Vancouver or Nanaimo, or drive. Driving is the most common way to get there as it’s the only way to bring your car over.
If you’re coming from Vancouver, you’ll need to take a ferry from Horseshoe Bay to Departure Bay in Nanaimo. The ferry ride is about two hours. Once you’re in Nanaimo, it’s a 90-minute drive to Tofino. If you’re closer to the suburbs of Vancouver, you can also catch a ferry from the Tsawassen Ferry terminal to Departure Bay in Nanaimo, and drive from there.
Or, you can fly to the tiny airport in Tofino. Flights are available from Vancouver and Victoria daily. The flight from Vancouver is about an hour and the flight from Victoria is about 45 minutes.
Best Tofino Hiking Trails: Hiking Tofino, Ucluelet, and Pacific Rim National Park
Distance: 1.2 KM RT, each trail
The Rainforest Trail, located in Pacific Rim National Park, is one of the most popular hikes in the Tofino-Ucluelet region for locals and tourists. The trail has two routes, one on each side of the highway (referred to as “Route A” and “Route B”).
The Rainforest Trail is also one of the lushest and most serene hikes in the park, with a chance to see some of Canada’s oldest documented trees. Take a stroll through this living natural history display of trees that have been around since long before Europeans arrived in Canada.
Route A starts from the east side of the highway. To get to Route A, you’ll have to carefully cross the highway from the entrance of the parking area. The speed limit in this area is up to 80 kilometers per hour. Very few drivers seem to adhere to the change to 60 km/h near this crossing. Therefore, it is crucial that you are aware of your surroundings and take care to keep a safe distance from any oncoming traffic as you cross this busy road.
Route B starts from the far right side of the parking lot. With all the vehicles parked it can take a minute to realize where the start of the trail is. Walk to the end of the parking lot (away from the highway), and the trail starts along the right-hand side.
You’ll find yourself surrounded by a magical rainforest with moss-covered trees as you walk along a boardwalk and up and down stairs. You also will have to duck under some massive trees. The giant trees and thick foilage are sure to take your breath away!
Meares Island Hike (Big Tree Trail)
Distance: 3.2 KM loop trail (long hike), 2km (short boardwalk portion) RT
This hike is located on Meares Island, a small island just off the coast of Tofino. To get to the trailhead, you’ll need to take a water taxi from the town center. The water taxi ride is about 15 minutes and costs $30 per adult person (round trip).
The Big Tree Trail hike is an easy hike with a boardwalk the entire way. The hike is about two kilometers long and should take less than an hour to complete. If you wish to extend your hike, you can also do the longer version. This takes you through a rougher trail with a lot of climbing over massive fallen trees, trekking through mud, and meandering over tree roots. If you like a rugged trail, do not miss this extension!
The highlight of this hike is, without a doubt, the giant trees. These massive cedars are some of the biggest trees in Canada! It’s hard to wrap your head around how big these trees are until you see them in person.
Don’t forget to look up when you’re hiking this trail! The trees are so big that they form a canopy overhead, blocking out most of the sunlight.
The short hike is suitable for all ages and fitness levels. It’s also a great hike if you’re looking to avoid getting your feet wet, as the boardwalk keeps you high and dry. The longer hike requires you to have a bit of a higher fitness level.
Ask your water taxi driver for more time when you go, especially if you do the longer trail. There’s also a little beach with a swing and starfish near the little pier that you get dropped off at.
Distance: 0.2 KM RT
The Radar Hill hike is another popular hike in the Tofino-Ucluelet region. The hike is located just outside of town. It is only about two kilometers long, but it’s a bit of a steep climb.
The hike starts off with a gentle incline down a paved path through the forest. After about a kilometer, the trail opens up to an old radar site that was used during World War II. The views from the top are stunning!
On a clear day, you can see all the way to Vancouver Island. Be sure to bring your camera to capture the incredible views.
This stop also includes The Kap’Yong Memorial which honors the men of the 2nd Battalion Princess Patrica’s Canadian Light Infantry who died in the Korean War.
The hike back down is much easier than the hike up. However, be careful as the trail can be slippery when wet.
Combers Beach Trail
Distance: 0.5 KM RT
The Combers Beach trail is one of the best beach walks in Tofino. The hike to the beach is short but steep, and it goes down to a rocky path from the parking lot. When you get closer to the beach you’ll enter a boardwalk that soon exits the majestic forest and arrives at Combers Beach.
Pro tip: Combers Beach is one of our favorite places to watch the sunset in Tofino. It is an absolute dream, and an easy and quick walk back to the car in the dark (bring a headlamp!).
Lighthouse Loop, Ucluelet
Distance: 2.6 KM Loop
The Lighthouse Loop on the Wild Pacific Trail is one of the most popular hikes near Tofino, in beautiful Ucluelet. The trail takes you along the coastline with incredible views of the open ocean.
The path is a gravel one that sometimes has bumps, though it’s overall level. There are gradual slopes on the route, but there are no stairs or sections that require a lot of climbing (except Inspiration Point). After a brief walk through the forest, visitors of the Wild Pacific Trail are greeted with stunning views of the open ocean. The picturesque trail leads you along the shoreline, providing breathtaking views of the ocean as well as benches to rest on at every viewpoint.
This hike is SO gorgeous that we make an effort to walk it each time we are in the area.
Ucluelet, a 40-minute drive south of Tofino, is a popular location for hiking on Vancouver Island’s west coast.
Find out everything you need to know about the Lighthouse Loop at our post here: Discover The Wild Pacific Trail Lighthouse Loop
Ancient Cedars, Ucluelet
Distance: 1 KM RT
The ancient trees on the Ucluelet peninsula are showcased beautifully in the Ancient Cedars Loop. These massive red cedars, tall Sitka spruce, and western hemlock have been growing for centuries. Two of the trees are estimated to be over 800 years old, and one has a circumference of more than 12 meters.
Distance: 5 KM RT
This 5km hike is easy and family-friendly, with plenty to see along the way. Enjoy rainforest views as well as rugged coastal landscapes on this short but scenic boardwalk hike.
This interpretive trail begins near the Kwisitis Visitor Centre located on Wickaninnish Beach. The trek features a lovely coastline view, as well as an old-growth rainforest journey to Florencia Bay.
The trail changes from a boardwalk to a dirt path near the end of the hike, which then weaves through the flourishing forest until you reach Florencia Beach. This beach is beautiful and rough, with large, smooth black boulders.
Distance: 1.6 KM RT
The South Beach Trail is one of the most beautiful hikes in Tofino, meandering along the Pacific Ocean shoreline and offering stunning views of unique, eroded rock formations and foaming waves crashing on the beach.
After a short hike through the forest, you’ll come across a sandy beach with some impressive rock formations. These provide an amazing backdrop for the wild ocean waves that crash against them.
You can also start this trail from Florencia Bay. You will see a boardwalk entrance to the right as you walk the path towards Florencia Bay Beach from the parking lot.
Distance: 3 KM RT
Hikers will love the beauty of this trail as it takes them by Tonquin, Third, and Middle beaches.
The trailhead is about a 10-minute walk from the town of Tofino, and it may be accessed via a route leading out of Tonquin Park Road or the Tofino Community Hall. There are some wooden steps leading down to the beach, but the paths are mostly gravel, making it a very simple trek.
This beach is one of the most beautiful beaches in the area to watch the sunset.
Because the beach is not directly facing the Pacific Ocean, it does not experience the massive ocean waves that other beaches do, making it much more tranquil.
If you time your hike for low tide, there is plenty of sea life to photograph.
There is also a shorter option if you really just want to get to the beach. Park at the Tonquin beach parking and from there it’s an easy hike with a few stairs, and it takes you through old-growth forest to a viewpoint of Tonquin Beach.
Shorepine Bog Trail
Distance: 0.75 KM RT
The Shorepine Bog features a unique sort of vegetation only found in a few spots along the Pacific Coast, in cool and wet regions that were once covered by glaciers. It is a delightful little stroll.
It really feels like you’re walking through another planet on this trail!
This hike is short and easy, great for families with small children, and is wheelchair friendly.
Schooner Cove Trail (May Be Closed)
Distance: 2 KM RT
The Schooner Cove Trail is an easy, flat hike that takes you through lush rainforest and over slow-moving streams, before arriving at the rocky beach below.
This area is perfect for tide-pooling, but do watch the tides so you do not end up stuck.
This trail is currently still closed (Summer 2022) and has been for a couple of years after sustaining major storm damage. If you happen to be in Tofino and it does re-open, add this one to your list!
Canso Plane Crash
Distance: 5 KM
On the night of February 10th, 1945, a Canso bomber plane was in flight with a crew of 12 people. The engine malfunctioned, causing the plane to crash into the trees. The quick thinking of the pilot saved the lives of all onboard. The crew was rescued 11 hours later.
Take a stroll through the bog forest to the wreckage site – it’s quite fascinating.
The trail can be quite muddy, even in the middle of summer, so wear hiking shoes, or shoes you do not care about ruining.
This is one of the most unique and best hiking trails in Tofino!
Also, please do not climb on and inside the plane. Every visit we see people (even families) climbing in and all over it. This only serves to ruin the remains faster and goes against leave no trace principles. Help preserve this site for countless others to see!
Get our directions to find this unmarked trail at this post: Canso Plane Crash Hike In Tofino
Distance: 16 KM
Is it a hike if you simply walk the beach? Perhaps not in some areas, but the 16-kilometer-long Long Beach may certainly be an all-day trek.
Long Beach is a series of beaches that are cut off from each other by headlands, and you can only walk between them during low tide.
Long Beach is accessible from several locations, but one of the most stunning sections is the section you reach straight from the Long Beach parking lot.
The most well-known sight along this stretch is Incinerator Rock.
Hot Spring Cove Boardwalk Trail
Distance: 3.9 KM, plus seaplane or boat ride
The Hot Spring Cove Boardwalk Trail is a 3.9km out-and-back walking route in Maquinna Provincial Park that can be reached by seaplane or boat from Tofino. A boardwalk through a spectacular old-growth forest will take you to seven geothermal hot pools for this fantastic day trip.
The water in the springs can be really hot, but you can surely find an area that is suitable for a soak, or jump into one of the cold pools closer to the ocean.
This trail has remained closed since being shut down during COVID.
Cox Bay Mountain Trail
Distance: 2.6 KM
One of the best activities in Tofino is hiking the Cox Bay Trail. The hike is short and rugged, but still very accessible for people who are not experienced hikers.
Be prepared to get muddy when you take this trail–it’s an inevitability regardless of the season. If you don’t have hiking boots, make sure to bring some other shoes that you don’t mind getting dirty. As you make your way to the peak, you’ll have to traverse across fallen trees, tree roots, and work through some soggy muck.
Turn left when you reach the beach and go south to the end of the beach to the boulders.
The trail isn’t signposted at the end of the beach, so it can be difficult to find. There are several different entrances to the trail between the rocks.
As you make your way up through the thick woods, you don’t have much of a view on the way up.
After walking for roughly 25 minutes, you’ll start to get views of the coast along Cox Bay. The final ascent to the lookout includes a steep rock face with a rope hanging down. Use the rope to climb up, and once you reach the top it is only minutes until you reach the viewpoint.
Nuu Chah Nulth Trail
Distance: 3.8 KM RT
The Nuu Chah Nulth Trail, which measures 3.8 kilometers and runs through the dense rainforest towards Florencia Beach, is lined with wooden walkways that have been raised above the ground.
The Nuu Chah Nulth Trail, previously known as the Wickaninnish Trail, begins on South Beach. Follow the boardwalk and walk up the wooden stairway to reach the trail junction.
Hikes To Do Between Nanaimo and Tofino
If you’re looking for some great hikes to stretch your legs on the way from Nanaimo to Tofino (or vice versa), there are plenty of options! Here are a few of our favourite short hikes to take a break from driving:
Distance: 800 M, each trail
Cathedral Grove is one of the most popular attractions on Vancouver Island, and it’s easy to see why. This short hike through an old-growth forest is a great way to get your nature fix without having to venture too far off the beaten path.
There are two trails, one on each side of the highway. The trails are both well-marked and easy to follow.
Hole In The Wall
Distance: 1.3 KM RT
Unbeknownst to many, this hiking trail on Vancouver Island provides a stunning view of what was once a waterline to Port Alberni. While the hole in the wall area itself may be small, it’s definitely worth checking out when you’re in the area — and a fabulous spot for a swim to beat the heat!
Little Qualicum Falls
Distance: 2 KM RT
From the viewing platforms at Little Qualicum Falls Provincial Park, you can see both the lower and upper falls. There are three ways to view the falls: from the upper bridge, lower bridge, and a few strategically placed lookouts along the trail.
The 440-hectare Little Qualicum Falls Park has over 6 kilometers of footpaths. The majority of the walkways begin in a day-use area in the park.
Englishmen River Falls
Distance: 1.3 KM RT
The Englishman River Falls is located just outside of Parksville and it is an incredible sight. The bridge provides an excellent view of the falls as they flow into the canyon below.
For a refreshing break, take the path past the Falls to reach a popular swimming spot in the clear and refreshing water.
To learn about more great attractions you do not want to miss when driving between Nanaimo and Tofino, click over to our post: The Best Stops To See Driving From Nanaimo To Tofino.
Incredible Tofino Hiking Trails
There are many incredible hiking trails to explore in the Tofino and Ucluelet areas. With so many options, it can be difficult to decide which ones to hike.
We hope this guide has helped you narrow down your choices so that you can make the most of your time in this beautiful part of British Columbia!
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