I may earn income from affiliate links or partnerships in this post. I spend time to curate tours or products that align with my values. Thanks for supporting my work, at no additional cost to you.

Last updated on April 16th, 2024 at 01:32 pm

Are you curious about visiting Pacific Rim National Park in a sustainable, low-impact way? You can now bike from end to end of the Pacific Rim Long Beach Unit on the newly opened multi-use bike trail for an incredible cultural ecotourism experience near Tofino, Canada.

One of the best parts about visiting Tofino for our sixth anniversary was cycling the newly opened multi-use trail called ʔapsčiik t̓ašii (pronounced ups-cheek ta-shee) through Pacific Rim National Park. Riding the new bike trail from start to finish allowed us to see the incredible sights of Pacific Rim National Park, from the stunning beaches Tofino is known for to the thick, towering rain forest, the fascinating bog lands, and everything in between.

Pacific Rim National Park Bike Trail Biking Tofino

ʔapsčiik t̓ašii means “going the right direction on the path.” The name feels appropriate as you certainly are going in the right direction with this wonderful low-impact, slow experience, becoming intimately acquainted with one of BC’s best national parks. The trail is co-managed and developed by the First Nations in the region and Parks Canada for a sustainable ecotourism experience. Depart from your eco accommodation in Tofino or the National Park visitor center to enjoy a full day of riding, walking, or rolling the well-paved and accessible new trail to check out all the highlights of the Pacific Rim National Park. 

This guide covers everything you need to know to experience the novel ʔapsčiik t̓ašii trail and all the best stops in the Pacific Rim National Park, from planning your day to packing, what to expect and the best stops to make. If you enjoy active outdoor experiences and national parks, you do not want to miss this fantastic biking experience through one of Vancouver Island’s most stunning areas.

Sustainably explore Pacific Rim National Park Tofino, Canada by Bike on the multi-use trail

Every year, we gravitate toward spending our anniversary in a nature reserve; considering our first date was in Zion, we got engaged in Berchtesgaden National Park and eloped in Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area outside Las Vegas almost seven years ago. After it happened a few times serendipitously, we started to make a thing out of it, from biosphere reserves in Switzerland to the low Tatras in Slovakia and beyond. 

So, when we moved to Vancouver, we knew we had to get away to the Pacific Rim National Park for an anniversary. We mounted our bikes to our new Polestar EV and set off from downtown Vancouver to Tofino. We settled in for a relaxing and rejuvenating slow and sustainable itinerary in Tofino. Except for one day, we decided to ride the entirety of the ʔapsčiik t̓ašii trail there and back and then some – just for good measure. We stopped at every National Park pull-out to enjoy nature walks through the forest, bog, and along the beach for a full, active day. I can’t wait to share our experience with you, and hopefully, you’ll feel all of this beautiful national park yourself. 

QUICK LOOK

  • Pacific Rim is located on the coast of Vancouver Island near Tofino
  • It is a wonderful blend of ocean, forest, and culture
  • Established as a national park in 1970 and later designated a park reserve in 2000, allowing for conservation and Indigenous stewardship
  • Ancestral and current lands of the Nuu-chah-nulth Peoples, such as the Tla-0-qui-aht First Nations
  • The newly opened multi-use bike trail allows one to ride from Tofino through the national park for a cultural ecotourism experience

What is the ʔapsčiik t̓ašii Multi-use Path in Pacific Rim?

The new multi-use trail opened as a new way to explore Pacific Rim National Park with a sustainable ecotourism experience. The well-paved and maintained path connects previously existing trails in Tofino and Uculuet, allowing you to ride the entire coastal strip between the two towns. 

The path was developed in partnership with the local community and the Tla-o-qui-aht and Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ First Nations. So, as you ride or walk the trail, you’ll have the unique opportunity to learn about the culture and biodiversity of the region. These First Nations have inhabited the area that is now Tofino, Ucluelet, and Pacific Rim National Park for thousands of years as skilled fishers, carvers, and land stewards. They are the traditional custodians of this area, and when visiting the Pacific Rim, it is important to be mindful of their land rights and take time to learn about their culture and history. 

Pacific Rim National Park Rainforest Trail

This partnership has allowed Parks Canada and the local residents to develop the trail to enhance tourism benefits and minimize negative cultural and environmental impacts. You’ll ride across many boardwalks to protect rare bog ecosystems and species like the Northern red-legged frog. Many signs are written in the region’s Indigenous language and provide interesting cultural context. The trail was developed considering critical salmon habitat and its life-cycle to minimize any negative impacts on this keystone species. 

Basic Information

  • The official trail starts and ends at the exact national park boundaries of Pacific Rim National Park Long Beach section and essentially follows the main highway with some deviations.
  • From start to finish, it is about 25 km one way. 
  • However, the trail connects existing trails in Tofino and Ucluelet, so riders could potentially ride between the two towns in about 38km one way. 
  • Additional detour options could add about 5-10km to your total.

We started in Tofino and rode to the Pacific Rim National Park visitor center, adding several stops and detours. By the time we returned to our accommodation in Tofino, we had completed close to 70km round trip. This took us about 4.5 hours of leisurely riding, stopping to take photos and hydrate (15-16 km an hour), and did not include our longer lunch stop and small hikes we took along the way. We were out for under 7 hours with the longer stops, leaving at 10 am and returning before 5 pm.

Pacific Rim National Park

Of course, you can do as much or as little as you want, or this would go much faster with an E-Bike. Thankfully, this trail is generally accessible. The path is paved and wide (plenty of room for cyclists, pedestrians, and strollers), mostly flat or following hills, avoiding steep grades (except for one bigger hill), and has only two safe highway crossings.

About Pacific Rim National Park 

Pacific Rim National Park Reserve was established in 1970 to protect and manage Western Vancouver Island’s incredible coastal systems and rainforests. This was monumental to cease logging rights in critical areas of Vancouver Island after nearly 90% was deforested. 

The park is broken up into three units or sections:

  • Long Beach Unit: The most accessible unit between Tofino and Ucluelet. This is where the wonderful new trail ʔapsčiik t̓aši trail awaits!
  • West Coast Trail Unit: A southern strip of rural parkland famously known for the multi-day hiking trail called the West Coast Trail
  • Broken Islands Unit: A group of 100+ small, rugged islands accessible only by boat.

Parks Reserve – What’s That?

Pacific Rim is considered a national park  AND reserve. While that is still an official national park designation in Canada, in 2000, many First Nations and Indigenous peoples of Canada rightfully received acknowledgment that these parks remained on lands important to them for subsistence and cultural purposes.  Parks with a reserve in the name, such as Pacific Rim, are managed to recognize Indigenous rights and stewardship, allowing for both conservation and sustainable subsistence use. 

Pacific Rim National Park Bike Trail Tofino

Pacific Rim National Park Conservation

Parks Canada is actively working to restore critical ecosystems such as dunes and salmon habitat. Learn more about what happens when dunes are removed from beaches. Take time to hop off your bike and read the signs about coastal dune restoration and parts of the trail that were built with salmon in mind. 

While riding, you’ll share this habitat with some of Vancouver Island’s most incredible species, from wolves, bears, and cougars to grey whales, salmon, shorebirds, seals, and amphibians. You are unlikely to encounter big predators, but it is important to practice safe riding and keep an eye out for even the smallest of creatures that may cross your path. 

Biking Pacific Rim National Park

The park also has several critically endangered plant species, including the beach peavine and the pink sand verbena, which is thought to have come back from only two known remaining plants in 2000. 

National Park Rules

All rules must be followed to maintain the park’s incredible biodiversity and restoration projects. 

  • Never go off-trail
  • No collecting or harvesting plants, animals, or other natural resources (shells, rocks, etc).
  • No off-leash animals and dogs are forbidden from certain areas to protect shorebirds.
  • No fires
  • No illegal camping
  • No littering
  • No loud music (it scares animals during critical times in the life)

You should also wear reef-safe sunscreens and support local businesses that benefit the First Nations’ health and well-being through the Tribal Park Allyship

Don’t Forget the Visitor Center

I recommend visiting the center the day before you plan to ride the trail. That way, you can pick up a map, check out some information about the trail and park, and chat with the employees there. 

Pacific Rim National Park Visitor Center

While park rangers don’t check bikes for park passes like they do cars, I still find it common courtesy to get a national park pass to help support the park’s funding and infrastructure. We had an annual Parks Canada pass that we always kept on us. These fees help maintain infrastructure, conservation projects, and paid Indigenous stewardship work. 

How to Get to Pacific Rim National Park

We are based in Vancouver, Canada, a great hub for accessing Vancouver Island. We drove our new Polestar EV from Vancouver, took the ferry from Horseshoe Bay to Nanaimo, and then drove the 3 hours to Tofino. We stopped once in Port Alberni to use the fast charger, as our hotel only had a slow charger. 

Pacific Rim National Park Bike Trail Tofino

Tofino is accessible from Victoria and, therefore, the United States by its ferry system. The drive is much longer and prepare for about 4 hours on the road. You need a car to visit Tofino, and if you’re not on a road trip, I suggest renting a hybrid from Vancouver driving over. I don’t recommend flying the short distance from Vancouver to Tofino, as it is a carbon-intensive way of getting there.

Once in Pacific Rim, a great way to cut emissions is to enjoy the new bike trail through the park!

I don’t recommend flying the short distance from Vancouver to Tofino, as it is a carbon-intensive way of getting there.

Bike Rentals in Tofino / Pacific Rim

There are various ways to enjoy the trail – walking, rolling, biking, or strolling – all perfectly acceptable and enjoyable. However, I suggest hopping on a bike to see as much of the park as possible. 

We drove our Polestar EV over from Vancouver and brought our touring bikes with us, so we had our bikes and panniers ready to ride the trail, allowing us to leave our hotel. If you are on a road trip to Tofino, I suggest bringing your bike if that is an option.

For those who don’t have their own bikes, worry not; there are plenty of bike rentals. 

Biking Pacific Rim National Park

First, if you are interested in a more relaxed day but still want to see the entire Pacific Rim without much effort, then I highly recommend E-Bikes. I used to think e-bikes were inferior, but I finally rented one in Australia recently, and it allowed my entire family and me to explore a greater distance than we otherwise could have. Unless you LOVE cycling, I recommend this option. We had regular bikes for the ʔapsčiik t̓aši bike trail and certainly felt our legs toward the end. 

  • The best E-Bike rental company is an Indigenous-owned company called T̓iick̓in Ebike Rentals. It is a family-owned business created to help people explore the traditional lands of the Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ First Nation in a sustainable and meaningful way. They are conveniently located next to the National Park Visitor Center, so you can ride to Tofino and back.
  • If you want something closer to Tofino, rent from Tofino Electric Bikes, which has a few locations.
  • If you are looking for a regular bicycle or a company open in early spring and summer, rent from Tofino Bike. 
  • Alternatively, your hotel may have a few bikes you can rent to enjoy the national park.

When to Visit Pacific Rim National Park for Biking

The Pacific Rim Long Beach Unit, where you’ll find the ʔapsčiik t̓aši trail, is open year round! While that means you can walk, bike, or roll through the new trail any time, winter is notoriously storm season in Tofino. Many bike rental places are also closed. If you plan to ride the trail in winter, you will need to bring your bike and be prepared for potentially big storms—rain and wind. Plan carefully.

In spring, things start to open up in Tofino, including a few bike rental shops. I rode the entire trail just as it opened in May 20223, and that was a fantastic time to ride. The weather was pleasant but not too hot, and we had much of the trail to ourselves.

The spring and autumn shoulder seasons are great times to visit and would be my recommended choice if I return. 

The peak season in summer is when everything is fully open, from food kiosks to bike rental companies. Enjoy typically excellent weather but larger crowds. There is also the potential for wildfires on the island, so be mindful of air quality.

What to Pack for Biking

Be prepared for a full day out without many amenities. 

  • Bike shorts are a must. Ganesh and I both wear separate bike shorts and cover shorts.
  • Bike gloves
  • Tennis shoes or your favorite bike shoe 
  • A backpack or panniers
  • Layers – you might encounter cooler shaded areas and get chilled when you get off the bike to explore. Windbreaker or rain jacket, based on weather conditions
  • Bike lock 
  • Helmet
  • Water – we carried two water bottles and one camelback in a pannier since we were out for the whole day and rode 80km. Ganesh and I drank about 3-4 liters of water combined.
  • Sunscreen
  • Sunnies
  • Snacks
  • Picnic lunch – no food options were on the way, so we made PB&J and had lunch at one of our stops. We also packed plenty of snacks and ate a big breakfast
  • Camera/phone

Curious?

Subscribe!

Riding the ʔapsčiik t̓aši Multi-Use Trail Near Tofino

Our Experience and Best Stops in Pacific Rim

Now, the fun begins! As we set out for a day of adventure!

Note: The trail technically starts near the Visitor Center with mile marker one and heads north. But, we rode it from Tofino south. Both are great options; it just depends on where you are starting the day from. My recap is from mile marker 25, working toward 0, but plan the stops in reverse if you are coming in the opposite direction. 

You can find the AllTrail Map here, but this cuts a few kilometers from the total, as it sends slightly prematurely.

The official multi-use trail starts and ends at these points, at the northern end and southern end.

Leg 1: Middle Beach and the Tofino Multi-Use Trail

We stayed at the lovely and relaxing Middle Beach Lodge in their new eco-friendly treehouse. After a slow morning enjoying a cup of coffee and stealing bagels to make PB&J from our hotel breakfast like a couple of backpackers, we pulled ourselves away from our cozy space and geared up the bikes. We stuffed the panniers full of snacks, water, and extra layers. It was early morning in May, and a crisp layer hung in the air. 

The first few (and last few) kilometers were the hardest as we biked down a rocky dirt road connecting our rural hotel with the main trail. After kicking up some dust and jostling teeth, we were happy to join the paved Tofino multi-use bike trail next to the Tofino Bike Co. Rental Kiosk.

Biking Pacific Rim National Park Bike Trail Tofino

The Tofino path was the most crowded portion we rode all day. Many locals use this trail to walk, ride, or scooter into downtown Tofino for work. We felt like part of the morning commute, but as soon as we entered the official boundary of the National Park and the start of the ʔapsčiik t̓ašii, things calmed down a bit (keep in mind we rode this trail when it was new and shoulder season).

The trail starts on the North side of the Pacific Rim Highway, but soon, you will make your first highway crossing over to the south side, where the trail stays for most of the trip. 

Stop 1: Radar Hill

Not long after we started, we came to our first optional stop – Radar Hill. Radar Hill adds an extra 2.6 kilometers to your daily total, but, it is worth visiting for panoramic views. The road to Radar Hill is paved and takes you through thick forest. Park your bike at the trail’s end and enjoy a 200-meter accessible walk up the hill for incredible views. Radar Hill is a WWII memorial with views over the Pacific Ocean. 

Radar Hill Pacific Rim National Park Bike Ride

Leg 2: Radar Hill to Long Beach

Once rejoining the bike trail, the next 5km are a breeze. We made good time on the newly paved trail winding through the forest. It was exciting to come across the first (and possibly longest boardwalk protecting the fragile ecosystem for salmon and amphibians below. The beautifully constructed boardwalk is wide and has a metal grip to prevent slipping in the rain. The 20-kilometer market is striking in this location, with the forest, natural wood path, and the Indigenous group logos honoring the collaboration it took to make this trail happen. 

ʔapsčiik t̓ašii Multi-Use Trail Tofino

You’ll pass through a parking lot and a trailhead to Schooner’s Beach. This area and the trail are on the Esowista Reservation, a community of a few hundred Tla-o-qui-aht members. At the time we visited the beach access through their community was closed to the public. If that is the case for you as well, respect their land and wishes.

It is only a matter of time before you come to the main Long Beach access for the National Park. 

Stop 2: Long Beach

Next to two incredible wolf carvings, you’ll find a place to park your bikes. Lock them up and take time to explore Long Beach. You could also save this stop for the end of your day, for a swim in the ocean might be perfect for finishing your trip back in the peak of summer. 

We didn’t get in the water, but we used the restroom, filled our bottles, read the signs about the beach, and took a small stroll down the vast sandy expanse, watching the waves and surfers. During the whale season, you might have the chance to spot gray whales. 

Long Beach is famous for surfing and is known as Canada’s surfing and hippy capital. Before the national park was designated, a group of hippy surfers built a small commune. They were moved when the national park was established in the 1970s, but the laid-back culture remains strong. 

Long Beach in Pacific Rim National Park

Enjoy the view, explore the coastal system, or watch the surfers before returning to your bike and continuing down the trail. 

Leg 3: Long Beach to Combers Beach

While most of the trail is well-protected from the highway, it becomes more secluded and quiet after Long Beach. We rode leisurely, winding down the path through the sun-dappled forest. It might have been that we were still some of the first people to use the trail or that it was early in the season, but we hardly saw another soul during this section. We encountered our first hill here, but it was easy to manage on our bike, even loaded with panniers.

Stop 3: Combers Beach

The next stop was our absolute favorite. We took a welcome break (for our butt’s sake) and parked our bike at the trailhead to Combers Beach. While the beach looks like it might still be part of the very long indeed Long Beach, it is a completely different ecosystem and management area. 

In the local Indigenous language, the word for Combers means “stream on the beach.” That is what sets this special place apart, as a tidal estuary and a natural beach.

Combers Beach Pacific Rim National Park

Instead of being packed full of people and surfers, Combers Beach is a quiet and secluded haven for wildlife. Because of this, dogs—even leashed ones—are not allowed at the beach, and human activities are closely monitored and managed. The area is full of sensitive migratory birds, a colony of sea lions, and many other wild animals. 

My favorite part about this stop was the 1km hike to the beach. Be prepared for a steep but short climb down to a beautiful forest boardwalk. Dozens of birds exploded into song as they flittered from tree to tree. I took out my MerlinID bird app and listened to their calls as the tree branches swayed in the breeze. The forest floor gave way to sand as the distant noise of waves took over. As Ganesh and I emerged onto the beach, the powerful wind coated our faces in a light dusting of salt. Sea lions barked, crowding on a rocky outcropping. Birds hunting for snacks in the receding waves.

Comber’s Beach was one of the few places where Pacific Rim felt like a national park – wild, raw, and full of nature. 

Make sure your legs are ready for the hike back up and the long ride remaining ahead of you. 

Leg 4: Comber’s Beach to the End!

At this point, we were about two hours into our ride and decided to save the last two stops and lunch for the return trip. Make sure you are taking time to drink water and enjoy snacks to keep you fueled for the long day of riding, as there is another hill. 

We biked the last 8km of riding in a straight shot, making good time on the fun winding trail with rolling hills. You can turn around at the end of the National Park border or continue to the Visitor Center, if you haven’t visited yet. You could also continue to Ucluelet, but be aware that there is a very steep hill and some road riding. 

Since we had already been to the Visitor Center, and the last stretch of the trail involved highway riding (they will finish the trail to the visitor center soon); we turned around at the big National Park sign. We did it—we officially rode the ʔapsčiik t̓ašii across the entire length of the Pacific Rim National Park! Stop number 4 will be at the National Park sign. Don’t forget to take your photo here to prove you made it. 

Now, we’re going back to Tofino!

Leg 5: End of Trail to Shorepine Bog

We were starting to feel our legs, but we were determined to make the final two stops and return in time for cocktail hour in Tofino. 

At this point, you’ll be familiar with the terrain and likely make fewer stops to take photos. The return trip will either go by much more quickly or, if you are dealing with a sore butt, it might be a bit slower. 

Stop 5: Shorepine Bog 

We decided to have lunch at the Shorepine Bog stop in Pacific Rim. This diversion to the Shorepine Bog will add about 4km to your ride and an extra 1km to your walk, but it is probably one of the most unique ecosystems in the park. 

Shorepine Bog Pacific Rim National Park

Shorepine bog is a bog system found only in a few parts around BC. Believe it or not, the shorepine system is an old-growth forest. The trees and plants here have stunted growth as the waterlogged soil is low in nitrogen, but it is amazing at storing carbon. Walk the boardwalk and observe the rare plants, including the carnivorous sundew. 

The bike trail continues down to Florencia Bay, but we skipped this beach because we would overextend ourselves if we did. 

Leg 6: Leg Shorepine Bog to Rainforest Trail

We continued riding the same trail back until we arrived at the Rainforest Trails parking lot, one of the most popular stops in Pacific Rim National Park. We parked our bikes and picked rainforest trail route A to start. 

Stop 6: Rainforest Trails

This is your first chance to walk through the lush rainforest in Pacific Rim National Park. We stepped on the wooden boardwalk to bob and weave around trees and climb up and down stairs—our poor legs screaming at us to stop—but the eerie forest and bird life were a welcome break from the fast-paced riding. There are two sections here, trail A and B, on either side of the highway. We wandered both trails (less than 1km each), took photos, read signs, and quietly reflected in the forest. 

Rainforest Trail Pacific Rim National Park

I recommend you do both trails. You can leave your bike parked on one side of the trail and cross over to explore the other. Despite their close distance, they are surprisingly unique. 

Leg 7: Rainforest Trail – Tofino, The Finish 

With all the best stops in Pacific Rim National Park out of the way, we made a B-line back toward Tofino. We stopped to drink water, rest our legs, and enjoy snacks. 

We had a good time returning, eager to get home and rest. We stopped and took a photo at the Welcome to Tofino sign to prove we had ridden from Tofino through the Pacific Rim! We were so proud of ourselves, especially considering it was early season and we hadn’t done much riding for the year.

Pacific Rim ʔapsčiik t̓ašii Bike Trail

After returning to the awful and unpaved road to our treehouse, we showered and changed. 

Stop 7: Treat Yo Self!

After completing 70+ km of biking, we were in a celebratory mood. We ventured downtown to get a cocktail at the Wolf in The Fog. Since they weren’t super vegetarian-friendly, we enjoyed a few cocktails and a seaweed salad but ordered vegan and vegetarian pizza to pick up from Basic Goodness Pizzeria. 

We indulged in pizza at our wonderful secluded Treehouse and took a long soaker bath with Epsom salts. Our bathroom had a view of the ocean and the sunset. 

We spent the night reading a book on the balcony, enjoying the sound of the waves and some nice red wine. It was the perfect ending to a day full of adventure exploring the Pacific Rim by bike in a wonderful sustainable ecotourism experience. 

Sustainable ecotourism biking adventure through Pacific Rim National Park in Tofino Canada

Discuss and Share

Would you ride this newly-opened multi-use trail near Tofino in Canada? Pacific Rim National Park Reserve is an incredible place with a rich Indigenous history, lush rainforests, unique shorepine bogs, and stunning stretches of beaches full of incredible wildlife. Pacific Rim is a treat to visit with its close proximity to both Tofino and Ucluelet. The best way to immerse yourself in cultural ecotourism is by enjoying a ride on the newly opened multi-use trail called ʔapsčiik t̓ašii. 

The trail easily connects you to all the best stops in Pacific Rim National Park, like Radar Hill, Long Beach, Comber’s Beach, Rainforest Trail, and Shorepine Bog Trail. If you are physically able, it is a more culturally immersive way to see the park and connect with its incredible nature than driving from stop to stop.

If you are up for a full-day adventure, this bike ride can easily start in Tofino or the Pacific Rim Visitor Center and connect the entire bike path from Tofino to Ucluelet. Bike rentals are available in spring, summer, and autumn for your convenience.

What better way to see one of British Columbia’s most unique national parks than biking from end to end?

Exploring Pacific Rim National Park Tofino by Bike on the multi-use trail
Biking through Pacific Rim National Park in Canada with the best stop along the way
Biking The Pacific Rim National Park on the Multi-Use Trail: ʔapsčiik t̓ašiiBiking The Pacific Rim National Park on the Multi-Use Trail: ʔapsčiik t̓ašiiBiking The Pacific Rim National Park on the Multi-Use Trail: ʔapsčiik t̓ašii