UPDATE: Schooner Cove Trail has been closed after sustaining major storm damage, and Parks Canada is working closely with the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation on the future of the area. In the meantime, visitors can check out nearby trails on Long Beach like Rainforest Trail A and B and Shorepine Bog Trail.
Rugged Vancouver Island is a treasured spot for many Canadians—a dazzling gem on the country’s far west coast with shimmering sandy beaches, thick old-growth forests, surf-worthy swells and winding roads leading to tranquil coves. At its heart is the resort town of Tofino, a treasured escape for city slickers who seek respite at charming resorts like the Wickaninnish Inn where guests cozy up in front of a fireplace overlooking the ocean, and listen to the waves crashing against the shoreline as they drift off into a blissful sleep.
One of the best hikes in Tofino is the Schooner Cove Trail in the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, which has an enviable perch on the tip of the continent. When paired with a whale watching tour to enjoy the company of massive grey whales spouting out fountains of air, this easy hike is a great add-on to experience some of the area’s top attractions in a single day.
Schooner Cove Trail
The trailhead is located about 16 kilometres from the townsite, where a wooden boardwalk lined with vibrant green moss and foliage leads through an enchanting forest, complete with hanging vines and gargantuan cedars. To say the area is photo heaven is an understatement.
The easily navigable trail is only one kilometre from the Schooner Cove parking lot, meaning the whole walk only takes about 15 minutes until you hit the beach—unless you stop to take 100 photos every five steps like yours-truly. Despite our group’s leisurely pace, it wasn’t long before we could hear the sound of waves lapping at the shoreline, and emerged from the forest’s shaded canopy to find an expansive beach spread out before us.
We’d arrived at Schooner Cove, located on the northern tip of Long Beach which traces the coastline for another 10 kilometres and is one of the best Tofino trails. The light was ethereal, casting a white glow over the golden sand and washing out the craggy rocks clinging to the shore. Like excited kids let out for recess, we all immediately set off in a million different directions, eager to explore the sandbars and scamper up the massive black boulders in search of the perfect shot.
The tide was low, the sun shone bright, and a hint of salt from the ocean waves made its way through the crisp, fresh air. It’s easy to see why Schooner Cove trail is one of the top Tofino hikes, good for all abilities and ages with a great variety of landscapes all along the way.
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This article was originally published in April 2017 and updated in January 2021