Long Beach Camping
Green Point Campground is the major, developed vehicle campground, located halfway along Long Beach, with an amphitheater for interpretive programs, and rest rooms. Primitive walk-in sites are located at the north end of the beach, at the end of a 1 km trail. Additional camping facilities are located outside of the park boundaries, in private campgrounds near Tofino (to the northwest) and in Ucluelet (southeast).
The Ucluelet-Tofino Road, an extension of Provincial Highway 4, runs through the length of the Long Beach unit. There are several good viewpoints along the route, including Radar Hill, the site of an old World War Two installation that provides an excellent view of the northwestern beaches, the ocean and nearby mountains which lie to the east.
For private campgrounds in the area, Go Here.
All trails in the Long Beach unit provide day hikes through the beachside lands, including short nature trails which lead through the rain forest and bog areas. Others lead from visitor facilities at Long Beach, to more remote beaches, past salmon streams, and through stands of Sitka spruce.
South Beach Trail
Access: This short trail begins behind the Wickaninnish Centre building, the same starting point as for the Wickaninnish Trail.
The Trail: Only a half-mile (.75 km) long, this trail leads from the museum building to two secluded coves which offer a cobble beach (Lismer Beach), and a beach constructed of more finely polished pebbles (South Beach).
The Hike: From its start, the trail leads through a small Sitka spruce forest, with the trees shaped by the strong winds which whip this shoreline. Side-trails run to the cobble beaches, with Lismer Beach in first order. A boardwalk then climbs across the headland, toward South Beach. There are wonderful views of Wickaninnish Bay and Lismer Beach from this height, with the trailside vegetation including salal and salmonberry. After passing the Wickaninnish Trail turnoff, the trail continues to the right, with more boardwalk and stands of Sitka spruce and western hemlock. After arriving at the pebble beach, look to the right to view the storm surges through the double sea arch. The south end of South Beach provides some quieter water in a little finger inlet. Lismer Beach was named for Arthur Lismer, one of Canada's greatest painters, and a member of the Group of Seven, which created its own impressionistic style of landscape painting in the first half of the century.
Access: The main trailhead is beside the Wickaninnish Centre building. Park in the parking lot, a little over a mile from the Tofino-Ucluelet Road (leaving enough cash in the parking machine to cover your walk, or the entire day). The eastern trailhead is at the Florencia Bay parking lot. To get there, take the park road that leads south, off the Wickaninnish Centre access road, about half way from the Tofino-Ucluelet Road.
The Trail: The one-way hike is 2.5 km (.9 mile) long, and runs from the Wickaninnish Centre parking lot (behind the building). Take the first part of the South Beach Trail and take the Wickaninnish Trail turnoff. The trail leads across the Quisitis Point headland, coming out at the south shore of Florencia (Wreck) Bay.
The Hike: Before the present highway was built, this trail was used as the main pedestrian route between Tofino and Ucluelet. You may be able to see the old log corduroy surface on a small part of the route. It passes a sphagnum bog with a border of shorepine trees, some of which are hundreds of years old, but rarely taller than nine or ten feet.
Access: Willowbrae Road connects with the Tofino-Ucluelet Road, 2.6 miles (4.8 km) south of the Highway 4 -- Port Alberni junction. Drive down Willowbrae Road, approaching the park boundary, where you'll find a small parking lot. The first part of the trail is outside the park.
The Trail: This short trail (.8 mile, 1.4 km) is another part of the original foot trail between the two villages. The route -- commonly walked until 1942, when the highway was completed -- was about 30 miles long, including ten miles (16 km) of beach.
The Hike: As with the South Beach Trail, the cedar logs placed on the route are largely covered with moss. Approaching the shore, the trail crosses a bridge. A side trail leads south to Half Moon Bay. Stay on a straight course, and you'll continue through the forest to arrive soon at the southeast end of Florencia Bay. Over the years, the continual reshaping powers of nature have narrowed the trail through the growth of deer ferns and salal. Before the 1940s, the trail was wide enough to accommodate a horse and wagon.
Half Moon Bay Trail
Access: Walk along the Willowbrae Trail (see above), almost to Florencia Bay, and then turn left at the sign.
The Trail: Only one-third mile long (less than a mile, counting the walk on the Willowbrae Trail), this trail leads to its southern trailhead, at the edge of a small, quiet cove with a beach.
The Hike: From its start at the west end of the Willowbrae Trail, this path leads through a mixed conifer forest of spruce and hemlock. The trees are exceptionally twisted. You'll see skunk cabbage growing in wet depressions in the forest. The trail leads to a high gravel bench with abundant sword fern, then descends between spruces, on a wooden ramp to the cove. This is one of the most scenic places in the Long Beach unit, and a fine place to take easy-to-carry picnic supplies.
Spruce Fringe Trail
Access: The trailhead is at the western edge of the Comber's Beach parking lot. To get there, drive along the Tofino-Ucluelet Road, toward Tofino (north), and turn left onto the park access road. There is a nature exhibit beside the parking lot.
The Trail: This self-guiding trail has interpretive signs along the route. This is a loop, returning to the parking lot and the beach.
The Hike: This is a fine trail from which to observe the Sitka spruce fringe environment, a mixture of beach edge, piles of logs, and lots of salal. The fringe extends only about 600 feet (200 meters) inland from the beach. Look for pockets of moss and lichen attracted to the tree bark. This is quite swampy terrain, with patches of willows and crabapple trees. There's another gravel terrace, caused by glacial action, before the trail returns to the trailhead through a more dense forest of cedar and western hemlock.
Access: The northern trailhead is located on the Tofino-Ucluelet Road (Hwy 4), north of Green Point Campground, heading west and then south to approach the Northwestern end of Long Beach.
The Trail: Another short trail (.6 mile), the route leads through two forest zones before reaching the beach. The larger island, just off the beach (at the point) is Box Island. Follow the beach to the right of the trailhead -- past the island -- and you'll arrive at Schooner Cove.
The Hike: The route begins with the trail leaving the highway and passing through a cedar-hemlock forest, crossing a small stream where salmon come to spawn. Along the way, the vegetation changes to Sitka spruce forest as the trail approaches the shoreline. This is another easy trail on which to pack a picnic lunch.
Shoreline Bog Trail
Access: The trailhead is just off the entrance road to Wickaninnish Beach and the museum. Drive along this park road to a parking area located a short distance beyond the Florencia Bay turnoff.
The Trail: This loop trail leads along boardwalks, for a walk of less than a half-mile (.8 km). This is a self-guiding trail with interpretive posts. Trail brochures are available at the trailhead.
The Hike: The bog is created by the great amount of rain which falls, almost year-round. With little drainage to the beach, the water stays in shallow depressions. Most of the trees are shorepine. Peat moss grows throughout the bog, separated by little hills or hummocks where you'll see hemlock, red cedar and yellow cedar. Here, the pines are so severely stunted because of little nutrition, that they grow to a height of only 12 to 15 feet.
Rain Forest Trails
Access: Trailheads are located on the Tofino-Ucluelet Road, 4 miles (6.4 km) northwest of the park information center. There's a parking lot at which signs direct you to the two trailheads.
The Trails: Two trailheads are at the start of two separate loop walks. These are both self-guiding, with markers explaining the forest features. Each trail is .6 mile (1 km) long.
The Hike: While leading through the same old-growth rain forest, the interpretation is different on each trail. Loop A focuses on the forest cycle. Loop B interprets forest structure and inhabitants. This is perhaps the best place along the whole Pacific Coast to experience an old-growth rain forest. Although not as drippingly damp as the Hoh Rain Forest in Olympic National Park (Washington), this rain forest is very dense, and quite wet. You'll find tall western hemlock, red cedar and amabilis fir. Moss gardens hang from tree crevices, making a base for many ferns and conifer seedlings. This is a great place for bird watching, with kinglets, chickadees and other song birds in attendance. You may not see the reclusive (and endangered) marbled murrelet, which nests here in the summer. The little salmon stream is Sandhill Creek.
Gold Mine Trail
Access: The trailhead is located on Highway 4 (Tofino-Ucluelet Road), .6 mile (1 km) west of the park information center.
The Trail: Cutting across the park, between the highway and Florencia Bay, the 1-mile (1.5-km) route leads from the highway to the beach where gold mining took place during the early years of the 1900s. The placer operations didn't last long, and a few years after discovery, everyone left the area. During the depression a few miners returned to salvage what gold remained. Some rusted mining machinery may be seen at the end of the trail.
w This is an area which definitely suffered at the hands of logging operations, which began here in the 1950s. The original miners' trail was widened for logging. This area was re-planted with Douglas-fir and Sitka spruce, not the original trees found here. However, the original red cedar, amabilis fir and western hemlock have managed to regenerate. The park managers have allowed the forest to repair itself, since the park was created in the 1970s. The end of the hike shows a band of red alder, close to Florencia Beach.
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