Big Tree Trail on Meares Island

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Radar Beaches Hike (From Radar Hill)

Starts at Radar Hill parking lot, 10 minute drive south of Tofino (see below for specific trailhead directions)

Time Required:
About 50 minutes going down, longer (at least x1.5) coming back up. Allow a few hours to explore the beaches once you arrive.

1 km descent to the beach, then return (feels longer). At least an additional 2km of beach exploration available once at the ocean.

Difficult, expect to get muddy, sweaty.

Hiking Map:
See bottom of page

Details about the Radar Beaches Hike

This trail is not on the Pacific Rim National Park map and is not maintained but locals will tell you the rewards are worth the trek. Be warned, many people have become lost on this trail and have caused unnecessary costs to the park in rescue efforts.  Don't take any chances and travel well prepared. Take the Radar Hill turnoff and follow the road to the top of the hill. Park in the most western lot.

Go to the platform that juts out over the forest.  Facing the ocean, to the left-hand side of the deck, you will see a small opening in the trees.  This is the start of the challenging trail to the Radar Beaches.   Make sure you have packed a lunch because you will want to rest, explore and restore your energy banks once you reach the bottom.  The trail basically follows a creek (sometimes becoming a creek) down the side of the mountain.

At the beginning, it is quite vertical and within 15 minutes you will be scaling down a 10 metre drop by using tree roots as grips and footholds. The trail does demand some agility and hikers would be well advised not to wear white or any item of clothing they care about.  After about 20 minutes of descent, the trail will become much more gradual and you will have to contend with walking over or through large puddles, balance on logs to cross the stream, and hop on stump remains to keep from getting soaked.  

The second time that you have to use a log to cross a stream, you are close to the end of the trail and should hear the surf in the near distance.  When you finally begin to emerge from the forest, you will take a short rise from the stream bed and emerge from the woods into a pristine sand beach bowl in front of you.

This first beach continues for a few hundred yards just over a grass patch and to the far north of this beach at the headland you will find a small cave usually packed with spiders during summertime, hence our very clever nickname of Spider Cave.  In the past, we have found two beautiful Japanese glass ball floats on this beach and one year lots of hockey gloves and pads turned up after a container ship lost part of its load.  If you travel to your left (south), and follow the game trails between beaches, you will discover a chain of three small beaches.   If you are really hardy, you can continue even farther by following the jagged headlands south for about 20 minutes and you will reach a rocky cove that provides the final resting place for the rusting iron remains of a small shipwreck.

Make sure that you leave yourself plenty of time and daylight to get back to the Radar Hill parking lot well before dark and remember that you lose sunlight very quickly in the forest.

Hiking Map of the Radar Beaches Hike