The sheer mention of the West Coast conjures up images a fresh prevailing wind picking up wisps of sea spray from the tips of ocean rollers, sea birds hollering above, sandy beaches with rocky outcrops and tide pools, and brilliant sunsets that light the evening sky for hours. The wild west coast of Vancouver Island encompasses all these things and more including the Pacific Rim National Park which represents the rich natural and cultural heritage of Canada's Pacific Coast.
The Pacific Rim National Park is composed of three distinct units: The West Coast Trail, the Broken Group Islands, and Long Beach, together they add up to a total area if 500sq Kilometres (193sq miles).
It's in the southern reaches of the park, that the West Coast Trail is situated. An internationally acclaimed hiking trail, which stretches from Port Renfrew in the south to Bamfield in the north. Throughout this 77km (48 mile) span of trail, hikers pass through old growth rain forests with spruce, hemlock, and cedar trees draped in gowns of moss. Beautiful waterfalls that tumble down steep escarpments on their journey towards the Pacific Ocean will be encountered along with sandstone sculptures created by one of natures most renowned artists - the ocean.
The trail was originally established in the late 1800's as an old telegraph route to connect Victoria with Cape Beale near Bamfield. Later the same trail was upgraded to be used as a rescue route for shipwrecked mariners who could follow the trail to civilization, stopping to shelter and recuperate along the way, in wooden cabins. Today the trail is maintained by the Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations who have been caretakers of this land for more than 4000 years.
The Broken Group Islands are located at the entrance of Barkley Sound, north of Bamfield, and are a archipelago of over 100 islands, islets and rocky outcrops which form the centre of the National Park Reserve. An increasingly popular spot wilderness camping and experiences where the maze of sheltered bays provide protection from large Pacific swells and prevailing winds. These isolated islands feature naturally formed arches, blowholes, sandbars, and lagoons, as well as offering insight into the lives of early inhabitants through the remains of fortified villages, stone fish traps, and ancient native middens.
The Long Beach portion of the Pacific Rim National Park stretches between Ucluelet in the south and Tofino in the north over an area of 13,715 hectares. This section is famous for long sandy beaches, temperate coastal rain forest, and uninhibited views of a true west coast storm whipped up by gale or storm force winds. Long Beach is the most accessible of the three units and offers a variety of themed trails as well as providing various beach accesses for beach combing, surfing, and migrant whale watching.
The Pacific Rim National Park Reserve is also home to a variety of marine and land mammals including deer, eagles, black bears, wolves, and cougars, whales, seals, and sea lions.
Opportunities for recreational and outdoor adventure in the park are boundless, and the experiences are uniquely west coast!