Best Tofino hiking trails in every season

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For the sheer variety of trails that combine beautiful coastline jaunts along the ocean and meandering trails through temperate rainforests, hiking in Tofino is tough to beat. Whether you’re seeking steep grades to hills with a view of the Pacific Ocean, long beach walks when visiting Tofino with kids, or quiet forested trails with interpretive signage noting local First Nations history, there is a Tofino hike and Tofino hiking trail for every member of the family to enjoy.

high view of tofino hiking trails and ocean

Best Tofino Hiking Trails in Every Season

ʔapsčiik t̓ašii (pronounced ups-cheek ta-shee)

Opening in spring 2022, this is a new Parks Canada multi-use pathway through Pacific Rim National Park. The development of this new 25 km/15.5 mile paved pathway is in partnership with local First Nations, the Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ and Tla-o-qui-aht; the name means “going in the right direction on the path.” 

The multi-use pathway will connect the Parks Visitors Centre with the village of Tofino, and represents the fulfillment of an aspiration by local communities and visitors to the area to provide all ages and abilities a safe, sustainable, and accessible way to experience one of British Columbia’s most spectacular national park reserves.

Willowbrae Trail

This 2.8 km round trip loop trail traces and ancient First Nations path that linked Ucluelet to Long Beach. This wide trail crosses forested hills, ending at long steep stairs to Florencia Bay.  Florencia Bay is a scenic, misty beach, ideal for long walks on soft sand. Acess via the Willowbrae or Nuu-chah-nulth trails.

Check for rising tides before hiking, as its eroding bluffs offer no exit. The creek mid-beach may be impassable during severe weather; use caution.

Halfmoon Bay Trail 

This trail begins before the stairs to Florencia Bay. This scenic 0.5 km trail branches off from the end of Willowbrae Trail, 1.3 km from the parking lot on a small lane named Willowbrae Road. (Watch for the Wya Resort sign, two kilometers south of the Tofino-Uclulet junction.)

This boardwalk trail passes through a majestic stand of old growth trees, then winds downstairs through the spruce fringe to a quaint sandy cove. The final descent is long and VERY steep. Beach access may cross over logs. 

South Beach Trail

1.5 Kilometer round trip trail. This wide shoreline trail follows the moss-draped forest fringe accessing scenic coves such as Lismer Bay. Starts behind the Kwisitis Visitor Center. The path is level until a steep ramp ascends the headlands for a vista of the coast, then stairs descend to South Beach.

This pebble beach is famous for the music of stones rolling in the surf, and dramatic high waves breaking over the rocks. Be aware of dangerous waves and currents. 

Nuu-chah-nulth Trail

Spanning the forested Quistis headlands, this 2.5 km out and back trail spans the forested Quistis headlands linking Wickaninnish Beach and Florencia Bay. Interpretive signs and a totem pole give walkers a glimpse into local Nuu-chah-nulth culture.

The gravel and boardwalk trail goes between the back of the Kwisitis Visitor Centre and the Florencia Bay parking lot. Florencio Beach access is via stairs. Quistis Point shoreline is not passable between beaches. 

Shorepine Bog Trail 

This .8 km boardwalk loop is an easy stroll through a fascinating ecosystem. In a climate receiving 300 cm of rain annually, bog plants must adapt to depleted soil nutrition, growing on hummocks of sphagnum moss that is meters thick.

Stunted, bonsai-like shorepines grow only meters tall over hundreds of years. Watch for tiny red sundew plants with sticky leaves that trap insects for nutrients. Wildflowers thrive here. Bring a plant guidebook to learn more.

Rainforest Trail

Two 1 km boardwalk loops explore the magical world of an old growth rainforest. Explore centuries of growth where huge trees and ancient fallen logs are carpeted with hanging gardens of moss ferns and new trees. Loop A (across the highway) uses interpretive signs to explore forest lifecycles. Loop B (at the parking lot) emphasizes forest structure and inhabitants such as the salmon which spawn in the cool protective shade of Sandhill Creek.

Combers Beach Trail 

This trail is 500 m one way. The gravel trail descends a steep slope from the parking lot through a mature Sitka spruce forest. The trail joins a boardwalk section leading to the beach. Here you can see beach erosion at the confluence of Sandhill Creek and the dramatic effect of the ocean’s salt and winds can be seen on the stunted trees.

Be aware of high tides and waves which can block beach access. Beach access is not recommended in winter due to an unstable drop off at the beach.

Tonquin Trail

This 4 km round trip gravel trail leads to scenic views and Tonquin Beach. It is accessible from the Tofino Community Hall, located on Arnet Road. Along the Tonquin Trail, you will see old growth forests and a cliff top deck with great views. 

man overlooking tofino hiking trails in sunshine

Radar Hill

This paved .2 km hilltop trail pass the foundations that once supported a Cold War radar installation. Cedar trees frame selected views of the Pacific Ocean and Clayoquot Sound on this trail. 

Schooner Cove 

This trail and beach are currently closed. Over 100 trees fell during the winter storms of 2018. These storms caused significant damage to the boardwalk and bridges on this trail. Parks Canada is working closely with local First Nations on the future of this area. 

Long Beach

Famous as the longest stretch of surf-swept sand on Vancouver Island’s West Coast, this spectacular beach in Pacific Rim National Park is loved by surfers, beach walkers and vacationers alike. All beaches are unsupervised.

Be aware of cold water, large waves and strong rip currents. Respect the fragile beach environment. Leave only footprints. Take only photos, and leash your dog.

Hikes Outside Tofino

Big Trees Trail – Meares Island

Adjacent to Tofino is Meares Island. The Big Trees Trail is in a Tribal Park which can be reached by water taxi boat or kayak from the Tofino Resort + Marina. The trail is a one hour moderate walk on rough cut boardwalks. Before you go: check if this trail is open to visitors as it is within tribal park boundaries. 

Wild Pacific Trail – Ucluelet

This “must do” easy walk traces the scenic coastline for eight kilometers. Interpretive signs enrich the trail sections. Hikers can explore two sections. The Lighthouse Loop is a 2.6 km loop circle trail. A forest section leads to famous cliffside views with frequent benches in nooks.

The Brown’s Beach to Rocky Bluffs Trail is 4 km one way. This is a scenic coastal trail with decks, while the Ancient Cedars loop visits huge rainforest trees.

Beach Hiking and Stormwatching Tips

Tofino receives more than 3 metres (9 feet) of rain annually. The weather is cool year-round and often socked in with fog. Dress accordingly.

The Pacific Ocean is unpredictable, cold and powerful, particularly during the winter months but even on calm days all season long. Large waves and strong rip currents can be hazardous and occur without warning. Rocky shorelines are slippery and high tide can leave you stranded. 

  • Never turn your back on the ocean. Waves and high tides can roll beach logs. 
  • All beaches around supervised. Wear a wetsuit if you plan to go into the water to surf or swim; use the buddy system and avoid areas with rip currents when in the water. 
  • Check weather forecasts and note tide times.
  • Storm watching  is popular in winter time, be aware and stay far away from the high tide and the roiling surf areas.
  • Stormwatching spots: Kwistitis Visitor Centre, Wild Pacific and Tonquin trails, Florencia Bay lookout or seaside resorts.

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Claudia Laroye
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