Follow the trail to happiness in Tofino.
In and around Tofino, come face to face with some giants (of the tree variety) and walk or climb your way through Clayoquot Sound’s diverse ecosystem to some spectacular views on these trails.
- Distance: 3 kilometres (1.86 mile) round-trip
- Difficulty: Moderate. Expect some mud as the boardwalk ends.
- You'll Love: Being among the most giant and ancient trees in North America. Of note are the Hanging Garden Tree and Poster Tree, both Western redcedars.
- Distance: Around 1 mostly vertical kilometre (.62 mile) in each direction.
- Difficulty: Difficult (but as we said, rewarding!)
- You'll Love: The amazing, top-of-world views of Clayoquot Sound and its islands, and boasting that you climbed Lone Cone.
This is Tofino’s newest trail, winding through ancient rainforest, along the open ocean shoreline and down to Tonquin Beach. Once the 2 kilometre (1.24 mile) trail is completed, it will connect Tonquin Beach to MacKenzie Beach.
Start at the main trailhead, located between the Tofino Community Hall and the Tuff City Bike Skills Park.
- Distance: 2 kilometres (1.24 mile) once completed.
- Location: From the Post Office, travel south on First Street, past the hospital and a small park. Turn left on Arnet Street, up to a parking lot adjacent to the Tofino Community Centre and Tuff City Bike Skills Park.
- Difficulty: Easy. Does involve some steps to and from Tonquin Beach.
- You'll Love: The feel of having these views to yourself, and of walking this wild trail, right in town!
- Visit the Tonquin Trail website!
Tonquin Beach is an accessible hiking beach located within the District of Tofino, outside of the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. It is named after the Tonquin, the 19th century American trading vessel which sank here after historic altercations between the crew and local First Nations people. The wreck has not yet been discovered, but we now have a peaceful beach to carry this historic name.
The parking lot at the trailhead is less than 1 kilometre from the Post Office, an easy and pleasant walk. To get there, head for the end of Tonquin Park Road, and from there follow a winding boardwalk through the forest for about 7 minutes. You’ll be walking through a nature preserve set aside by the District of Tofino. After descending about 75 steps, you will be at the beach. Although it is not very large, this beach feels secluded and has the advantage of getting full sun.
When the boardwalk on the Tonquin Trail is wet – and this is true of all boardwalks – the planks can become very slippery, especially in the early morning or during and after rain showers. So watch your step carefully.
After arriving on the beach, look out to Wickaninnish Island (straight out and a bit to your left) and Felice Island (off to your right, also called Round Island). If your timing is right, you will experience the region’s best view of the summer sunset. Walk to the left side of the beach, and climb the staircase to walk the Lighthouse Trail.
- Distance: A few hundred metres, then return.
- Location: From the Post Office, travel south on First Street, past the hospital, some forest and a small park. Turn right on Arnet Street, then left up Tonquin Park Road to a small parking lot on the left at the end of the road.
- Difficulty: Easy, short steep ascent on concrete path, then all boardwalk. One descent of about 75 stairs
- You’ll love: Being on a secluded beach with soft, white sand and some coves. Oh, and the breathtaking sunsets.
For centuries, the Ahousaht people used sections of this trail to reach the wild beaches on the west side of Flores Island, a 40 minute boat ride northwest of Tofino. In 1995, under the guidance of the Ahousaht elders, a 16 kilometre (9.94 mile) trail was completed to expand the economic opportunities in Ahousaht traditional territory. In 2009, BC Parks and other partners worked with the Ahousaht First Nation to continue the trail repairs and to develop a more robust ecotourism strategy for Ahousaht and Flores Island.
The Wildside Heritage Trail winds its way through ancient Sitka spruce forests and visits two of the most spectacular beaches in Clayoquot Sound: Whitesands Beach and Cow Bay. This is a long trail, so bring a backpack with provisions and be prepared for some mud and spontaneous weather changes. Most hikers choose to camp for a night or two on Cow Bay, the final beach on the trail.
Excellent interpretive signs along the entire trail point out culturally modified trees, historical landmarks and valuable insights to the indigenous culture.
- Distance: 11 kilometres (6.83 miles) one-way, then return.
- Hiking Time: 5 hours one way. Recommended as an overnight wilderness camping trip. Hiking the trail in one day is possible, requiring an early morning seaplane ride to Marktosis and a chartered boat or seaplane ride home.
- Difficulty: Moderate. There is little elevation gain, but the wilderness setting demands some hiking experience and agility.
- You’ll Love: The wild beaches, First Nations cultural insight, and the experience of visiting a place that is truly the path less chosen.
Location and Transportation:
To access this trail, you need to take a 40 minute boat ride or a 10 minute seaplane flight from Tofino to Marktosis, the Ahousaht village on Flores Island. The scheduled water taxi, Ahousaht Pride, departs Tofino at 10:30 am and 4:00 pm from First Street Dock and costs $20 one way (cash only). Return departures leave Marktosis at 8:30 am and 1:00 pm.
There is a $20 fee per person (cash only) for accessing the trail, payable at the Ahousaht Band Office in Marktosis.
The Band Office is located just south of the arrival dock in a two-story red wooden building. The staff at the Band Office will point you to the trailhead, down the road (south) that led you to the Band Office, staying left at the fork. Nuu-chah-nulth guides are occasionally available to guide hikers. Call the Ahousaht Band Office 250-670-9531 for guide arrangements and any other questions about the Wildside Heritage Trail and Marktosis tourism information.
The Long Beach Unit of the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve is home to several walking trails that should not be missed. See them here.
Please note that the trails profiled by Tourism Tofino above are sanctioned.