The Bomber Trail

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Bomber Trail Hike

Location:
11 km south of Tofino, just beyond Radar Hill turnoff. (see Bomber Trail below for specific trailhead directions)

Time Required:
About 50 minutes to an hour one way. Allow a few minutes to check out the bomber crash site and have a snack. Do not extend this hike, as many hikers have become disoriented in the dense bush beyond the plane.

Length:
2 km one way

Difficulty:
Moderate. Up and down, lots of roots and very wet. Good navigation skills and common sense required.

Hiking Map:
See bottom of page

Tofino's Bomber Trail Description

The Park maps do not to show this route, but we think the site of this 1945 plane crash is well worth a visit. That said, HEED THIS WARNING:  The route, while moderately easy can be difficult to follow and is usually muddy. A number of animal trails criss-cross the route and hikers often become confused. A yellow rope has been strung tree-to-tree through the worst and most confusing portion of the route, and there are a number of metal marker posts with reflective tape marking the way. Despite these helpful way finders, take care to stay on route. Many hikers have become lost overnight on this route, necessitating involved searches to locate and assist them.

Approaching the Bomber on the trail

A glimpse of the Bomber as you approach on the trail

Do not attempt this route within four hours of sunset. As with the Radar Beaches Route, give yourself plenty of time, carry a headlamp and a cell phone, and let someone know where you are going and when you expect to return. And again, let your contact know when you are back.

The start of the route is not easy to find: 10.5 km south of Tofino, turn right at the Radar Hill sign. Park in the first parking area on your right, about 100 metres off the highway before you go up the big hill. Walk back out to the highway and head south for 500 metres. On the right hand side, you will notice an old road turnoff that disappears through the trees. Hop the ditch and begin walking up the slightly overgrown road leading up the hill. Fairly soon you will come to an abandoned building, apparently some type of machine shop. Opposite this building, you will see an opening in the heavy growth of the forest. A ribbon of surveyor’s tape marks this opening. This is the entrance to Bomber Route.

The route descends for a period through dense brush and forest before levelling off. Take your time on this route or you will quickly become confused and lost. Before venturing past any one marker ribbon, look ahead and get a sighting of the next one. They are usually about 20 metres apart. The route gives the general impression of veering to the right, but bear in mind how easy it is to lose your bearings in dense forest, especially when lighting is poor. Continually check for marker ribbons.

About 45 minutes after leaving the highway, take note of the remarkably deep-looking circular pond, about 8 metres across.  This pond was created by a controlled explosion following the accident.  The plane was carrying four depth charges that remained intact on impact, and these explosives were later detonated by members of the Royal Canadian Air Force.

Stay to the left of the pond and you will come across the heritage site marker. The position of the bomber should now be evident just beyond where you are.

WW II Canso Bomber in Tofino

The old WW II Canso Bomber crash is the pot of gold at the end of the trail

Avoid taking any side trails or hiking uphill past the plane. Usually these actions have been the cause of people getting lost. The route is not a loop. You have to hike back out the same way you hiked in.

None of the twelve people on board died in the crash and the pilot – or so the story goes – only suffered a twisted ankle. The skeleton of his plane remains virtually intact despite decades of souvenir hunters who having stripped the wreckage of all but its outer shell.