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Pacific Rim National Park

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Pacific Rim, Tofino & Ucluelet

 
  Surfer   Pacific Rim National Park and area is currently the only easily accessible region of Vancouver Island's west coast. Rugged shorelines are broken up by extensive beaches, which give way in turn to spectacular sounds dotted with islands. The park is divided into three distinct sectors, Long Beach in the north (accessible by car), Barkley Sound and the world famous West Coast Trail in the south. The Long Beach area consists of rain forest, wetlands and extensive sandy beaches. Barkley Sound and The Broken Group of islands are well known amongst sea kayakers as one of the finest paddling destinations in the world. Finally the West Coast Trail section in the south is famous amongst backpackers as one of the worlds' most beautiful but difficult hikes, with endless beach walks, ladders, suspension bridges and powerful surge channels.  
 
 

Black Bears, Cougars and Wolfs may be seen in the park. Keep all food safely stored and ensure you know what to do in the event you meet one on the trail. Seals may be seen sunning themselves on off shore rocks. Watch for bald eagles perched in the treetops above the beach. If you visit during migration you may spot Grey Whales plying the waters off shore. Barkley Sound sees a variety visiting whales during the year. You'll find whale watching charters in the towns just outside the park.

 
 
  Beached Kayaks   The park has a beautiful campground with 105 sites but during most of the year (the campground is closed in the winter) the demand for sites far outstripes the supply Hikers will find excellent trails with a lot of possibilities, such as endless beach walks broken up by rugged headlands, where you often find fascinating tidal pools to explore (be wary of rogue waves and watch the tides which can trap the unwary).  
 

Camping

The park's campgrounds, Green Point has 105 sites in total including twenty walk-ins. Reservations are a must since the campsites fill readily and may be almost impossible to secure during high season. The campground is located off Pacific Rim Highway just south of the warden's office above Long Beach.Watch for the signs as you drive through the park.

Note: There are no backcountry campsites in the park.

Cycling

While there are no cycling trails in the park, you'll find two paved paths that run along side the Pacific Rim Highway outside Tofino and Ucluelet.

Note: The park roads don't have much in the way of hills they do have a lot of traffic in the warmer months. The roads has winding sections with blind corners, particulary near Torfino and cars travel at highway speeds, so cyclists should be extremely cautious. The roads into the park from the east coast of the island are often narrow and twisty with some really big climbs.

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Hiking

The park has excellent short hikes with a lot of variety. You'll find trails which take you through rain forest, wetlands and grasslands and out onto the beaches where you can hike over 20km of shoreline (beach hikers should pay attention to the tides, which can trap the uwary and watch for rogue waves particulary on the headlands). You'll also find paved paths for walking and cycling at both ends of the park outside Tofino and Ucluelet.

Schooner Cove Trail - 2km The trail is located at the northern end of Long Beach.

Spruce Fringe Interpretive Trail - 1.5km Watch for the plaques which tell the story of the areas flora. The trail is just south of the Green Point Campground above Combers Beach.

Rain Forest Interpretive Trail - 2km The trail lives up to its name with all the fixings of a west coast rain forest including of course huge old growth trees. The trail extends on both sides of parks main highway across from Combers Beach.

Shorline Bog - 800m, Loop A facinating boardwalk trail through a stunted section of the forest due to the acidic nature of the soil. Located off Wickininnish Road, the trail is accessible to wheelchairs.

South Beach - 1.5km South Beach is known as the the best area in the park for storm watching. You can access the trail from the Wickaninnish Interprative Centre.

Wickaninish Trail - 5km, Wickaninnish Beach to Florencia Bay The trail connects to two beaches and was used by the indiginous peoples and the early pioneers.

Willowbrea - 3km, Florencia Bay The trail follows one of the original roads between Ucluelet and Tofino. Remains from the earliest attempts to settle this area can be found on route. You can pick up the Half Moon Bay Trail at the end to extend you're hike.

Half Moon Bay - Located at the south of Florencia Bay the trial is reached at the end of the Willowbrea Trail. The trail follows above the beach and provides excellent views before decending down to the water.

The Wild Pacific Trail in Ucluelet (south of the park) has some of the most accessible and spectacular scenery on the west coast of Vancouver Island. The trail can be accessed by following the main road (Peninsula Road) through Ucluelet to He-Tin-Kis Park, watch for the sign on the right.

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Sea Kayaking

Vancouver Islands is arguably one of North America's best sea kayaking areas. Pacific Rim is bounded on both sides by exceptional areas for paddlers. The Broken Group in Barkley Sound south of Ucluelet is within the parks bounderies and forms one of the three areas which make up the park (Long Beach and the West Coast Trail being the others). You'll find dozens of islands to explore with campsites and beautiful beaches, many of which can be found in the more protected inner islands of the group. Campsites can be reserved through the park where you can also get current information about local conditions and the best launch points - check with the park before you leave. North of the park above Tofino you'll find another spectacular area, Clayoqout Sound. There are a number of Provincial Marine parks in the sound where you'll find primitive campsites. You can launch directly from Tofino. You'll find gear rentals, instructors and schools in both Ucluelet and Tofino. See the resources section for more information.

Note: In many areas the park waters can be extremely dangerous with rocky shoals, surging surf, strong currents and heavy fog that can engulf you very quickly. If you're not an intermediate/expert paddler with cold water, surf, ocean navigation and tidal skills - hire a guide.

Surfing

This is Canada's west coast surf Mecca. There are a number of beaches with good surfing in the park including Florencia Bay, Wichaninish Beach and Long Beach. Just outside the park in the north Cox Bay and it's neighbour Chesterman Beach may also have good surfing depending on local conditions. Locals can suggest even more options. Conditions can very but the you'll usually find the biggest water in the winter. Wet suites are manditory particulary outside of the high season. You'll find gear rentals, instructors and schools in both Ucluelet and Tofino. See the resources section for more information.

Backbacking

The West Coast Trail is one of Canada's finest hiking experiences. The trail runs from Bamfield (Pachena Bay) in the north to Port Renfrew in the south. Bamfield can be accessed via a 50km drive along active logging roads (not recommended) or by a seasonal ferry from Ucluelet or by a leisurely and {wonderful trip on the Lady Rose } from Port Alberni in the middle of the island. Port Renfrew can be reached by car. Approximately 77km in length the trail takes five days of tough hiking to complete. The trail is accessible from May to September and must be completed in one go end to end since there aren't any other real access points other than the main trailheads. Be prepared for long days with a heavy pack, tricky channel crossings, danger from rogue waves, tough ladder and bridge sections and the strong possibility of heavy, endless rain which will soak you and all your equipment through (hypothermia is an ever present possibility). The trail should only be attempted by seasoned well equipped backpackers in good physical shape, with prior knowledge of the route, along with a good understanding of tides and river crossings. A tide table and the knowledge of how to use it are essential. The trail has a quota system with strict limits to the number of hikers allowed to leave from either trailhead in day. To optain a permit for your group you must reserve well in advance.

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Canoeing

It comes as a surprise to most people that the park has an excellent canoe route in the Nitinat Triangle. Aside from the fact that top most in people's minds when you mention the park are surfing, kayaking and whale watching probably the main reason the canoe route is not well known is because it's not exactly a paddle in the park (so to speak). This is a tough route which should be left to the experts or attempted with a guide. Portages are long, ardous, slippery and usually very wet. Paddling can be very difficult in many areas with big winds whipping up dangerous waves which may swamp you or leave you wind bound for days. The route also includes an ocean section. Contact the park for more information.

Nature

Pacific Rim is a spectacular marine and forest environment. The animals you might see in the park include Blacktail Deer, Vancouver Island Wolf, Black Bear, Raccoon, Cougar, Marten, Mink, Short-tailed Weasel, River Otter, Norway Rat, Deer Mouse, Red Squirrel, Wandering Shrew, Townsend Vole, and Muskrat. Off shore the marine mammals include Seals, Sea Lions and of course Whales. Orcas are sighted in the Barkley Sound region while Grey Whales migrate passed the park during the winter. Birders will be glad to hear that approximately 250 species of birds have been sighted in the park.

 

Interactive Map of Pacific Rim National Park - Long Beach Sector


View Larger Map

 
Surfing Long Beach
 
Paddling the Broken Group in Barkley Sound

 
Hiking the West Coast Trail - CBC Documentary

Hiking the West Coast Trail - CBC Documentary Part 2
Hiking the West Coast Trail - CBC Documentary Part 3

 

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Pacific Rim, Tofino & Ucluelet

 

Resources

  Park Visitor Centre  

Getting There

From Vancouver take the Horseshoe Bay ferry to Nanaimo then head north on 19A and pick up the 4 west just outside Parksville. From Victoria follow the Island Highway (number 1) west then head up island towards Nanaimo to pick up the 4 outside Parksville. From Parksville, the 4 will take you through Port Alberni and on to the final "T" intersection where you follow the 4 a short distance north into the park.

 
 

You can also reach the park by sea plane from Vancouver, Victoria or Seattle. Intrepid sailors can work thier way along the Juan du Fuca and up the cost to Ucluelet (for expert sailors only). Finally the park can be reach via the West Coast Express bus service.

Pacific Rim

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There a number of shops that rent surfboards and also provide instruction. Pacific Rim is also great place to learn surf launching and landing for kayakers. Guided kayak trips into Barkeley (Broken Group) or Clayoquot Sound (just outside the park) are hugely popular, as are wildlife tours, particularly when the Grey Whales are in the area.

Related Links

 

Links of Interest

Canadian Geographic
Conde Naste Traveler

Islands Magazine
National Geographic
National Geographic Adventure
National Geographic Traveler
Outside Magazine
Sunset Magazine
Travel and Leisure Magazine
Wavelength Magazine

 

Surrounding Regions

Out-There's Victoria & Vancouver Island


Out-There's Gulf Islands

Out-There's Vancouver Coast and Mountains
Out-There's Whistler
Out-There's British Columbia

Vancouver Island
Tourism Victoria

Tourism Vancouver
Vancouver Coast and Mountains

 

Out-There's Destinations

Pacific Rim National Park - Official Site

The Wild Pacific Trail in Ucluelet (just outside the park) has some of the most accessible and spectacular scenery on the west coast of Vancouver Island. The trail can be reached by following the main road (Peninsula Road) through Ucluelet to He-Tin-Kis Park, watch for the sign on the right just passed town.

Pacific Rim, Tofino & Ucluelet

 


Pacific Rim National Park

Pacific Rim
Box 280
Ucluelet
Vancouver Island, BC
Canada
V0R 3A0

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