4 Best Hikes in Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

Pacific Rim National Park Reserve Overview

Pacific Rim National Park Reserve is located on the westside of Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada. The park comprises 3 separate regions: Long Beach, Broken Group Islands, and the West Coast Trail. Long Beach is where you can find the Pacific Rim Visitor Center along with several short hiking options. Most of the best hikes in Pacific Rim National Park Reserve described below are in the Long Beach area. Broken Group Islands is an outstanding example of a marine archipelago comprising a stunning maze of channels, sheltered bays, shell beaches, densely forested islands, exposed reefs and bare, wind-swept rocks. Finally, the West Coast Trail is what draws most outdoors enthusiasts to the park with its 75 km, unforgettable backpacking experience. 

Pacific Rim National Park Reserve Units

Long Beach Unit is a three-hour drive along Highway 4 from the ferry terminal at Nanaimo, or a one-hour flight from Vancouver. Broken Group Islands are located in Barkley Sound and are only accessible by boat. West Coast Trail is accessed through Bamfield, Nitinaht Village or Port Renfrew.

Not listed in the list below of best hikes in Pacific Rim National Park Reserve is the hike to the 1945 Canso Bomber crash site. The trail can be found on an unmaintained trail off of Pacific Rim Highway but requires parking on Radar Hill Road. 

LocationBritish Columbia
Nearest Metro AreaVictoria, BC
Area Size126,271 acres
EstablishedApril 28, 1970
Hiking Trails61 miles

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Trailhead Traveler’s Recommended Best Hikes in Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

West Coast Trail
Darling River Waterfall. West Coast Trail, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada
Darling River Waterfall. West Coast Trail, Photo by Paxson Woelber

The West Coast Trail is an iconic backcountry, multi-day backpacking trail that is a challenge for even the most experienced hikers. Hikers climb more than 100 ladder systems with a heavy pack, trudge through deep mud, wade through fast-flowing rivers, and endure rough West Coast weather – often heavy wind and rain. The WCT is open and reservable from May 1st to September 30th each year. Prolonged periods of heavy rain, strong winds, high tides, large waves and short days necessitate closing the trail from October 7th to April 30th annually. The WCT is easily the #1 hike on any list of the best hikes in Pacific Rim National Park Preserve. 

  • 46.6 miles (75km) one-way
  • 5,000’ (1,525m) elevation gain
  • Strenuous
Rainforest Trails
Pacific Rim National Park
Rainforest Trail, Photo by Jasperdo

Gigantic western red cedar and western hemlock reach up to the sunlight, their boughs thickly carpeted with hanging gardens of moss. On Trail A interpretive signs emphasize the forest cycles and on Trail B the signs emphasize the structure and inhabitants of the forest.

  • 0.6 mile (1km) loops (x2)
  • 150’ (46m) elevation gain
  • Easy
Nuu-chah-nulth Trail
View from the Kwisitis Visitor Centre (2)
View from the Kwisitis Visitor Centre, Photo by Kristina D.C. Hoepnner

A glimpse into the Nuu-chah-nulth culture. Trailheads are located at Florencia Bay and behind the Kwisitis Visitor Centre

  • 3.2 miles (5km) out and back
  • 250’ (76m) elevation gain
  • Easy
South Beach Trail 
South Beach
South Beach, Photo by Jeff Hitchcock

South Beach offers spectacular, but potentially dangerous, wave watching. Very large waves and strong currents form at this pebble beach; water activities are not recommended.

  • 1 mile (1.6km) out and back
  • 150’ (46m) elevation gain
  • Easy

Featured Image: Coastal Waterfall, Photo by David Stanley

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