Pacific Rim National Park Reserve Activity Guides:
Pacific Rim National Park Reserve Trails:
Pacific Rim National Park Reserve
Pacific Rim National Park Reserve Overview
The Pacific Rim National Park Reserve is a stunning conglomerate of temperate rainforest, wind-swept beaches, and uninhabited amphibolite rock islands located on the western edge of British Columbia’s Vancouver Island. The park’s 197 square miles are divided by expansive bays into three sections: Long Beach, the Broken Group Islands, and the West Coast Trail. Each unit has its own distinct character, from the accessible but dramatic beaches of Long Beach to the giant conifers, some 2,000 years old and 20 feet in diameter, of the West Coast Trail. In summer, day hikers, kayakers, fisherman, and surfers flock to the park, though some say the best views are found between November and February on the trails above the tide line, when visitors can watch winter storms roll onto shore.
One of the most challenging and beautiful hikes in North America is the park’s West Coast Trail, a 47-mile trek lined with red cedars, Douglas firs, and some of the world’s tallest Sitka spruce. Running along the coast from Bamfield to Port Renfrew, the trail was originally created as the Lifesaving Trail in 1906 to aid shipwrecked sailors out of the dense forest. This five- to seven-day hike requires top-notch rain gear, a tidal chart, a topographic map, and a full set of wilderness skills. Some of the trail’s best views are found at the top of four-story-high ladders… not for the faint of heart. The West Coast Trail is open to overnight use between May 1 and September 30. Make reservations ($127.50 per person, per trip).
If you’re looking for something less epic, head to Long Beach, the most accessible section of the park, with 7.5 miles of hiking trails and nearly 14 miles of walkable beaches. The unit’s grassy dunes and rocky, driftwood-covered shores overlook the Pacific’s crushing waves. Boardwalks and trails wind through tide pools and over the coast’s hard-packed sands. To get a sense of the area’s natural drama, head north from the Wickaninnish Interpretive Centre along Combers Beach for views of Sea Lion Rocks, a cluster of rocks in Wickaninnish Bay that’s popular with nesting birds and sunbathing sea lions.
The Broken Group Islands offer prime sea kayaking in the Barkley Sound off the western rim of Vancouver Island. The park unit comprises 100 small, forested islands, creating a maze of lagoons, beaches, caves, and old-growth forests for paddlers. Watch gray whales spouting and sounding, and paddle beneath diving cormorants and blue herons. Outfitters on Vancouver Island offer multi-day trips into the islands, or combine a kayak rental with a water taxi for a solo adventure.
Surfers take advantage of the coast’s primo waves, with the best barrels rolling in during winter storms. The 12.4-mile stretch of coast between Ucluelet and Tofino has arguably the best waves in Canada, with breaks suitable for pros and beginners crashing inside the Long Beach Unit.
Green Point Campground, located on a bluff off of Highway 4 in the Long Beach Unit, has both walk-in campsites ($17.60 a night) and drive-in sites for RVs ($23.50 a night). Boat-in primitive camping is available in designated areas on Hand, Turret, Gibraltar, Willis, Dodd, Clarke, and Gilbert islands in the Broken Group Islands ($9.80 per person, per night). Primitive camping along the West Coast Trail is $127.50 for a through-hike, or $24.50 per night.