I am an avid hiker with a focus on easy to moderate trails in natural settings. I occasionally do harder trails.
The Trail to South Beach Is Short and Sweet
On three occasions, I have hiked the trail from Wickaninnish Beach to South Beach in Pacific Rim National Park. The trailhead is located near The Kwisitis Visitor Centre. This is a "park pass required" location and passes can be purchased at the visitor's center at the turnoff where you either head north to Tofino or south to Ucluelet.
The trail to South Beach is a short trail that should take most people less than 20 minutes one way. If you are looking for a longer hike, then the trail is connected to a broader network of trails. There is a nice hike out to a beach called Florencia Beach that is directly part of the same network.
Furthermore, there are many other trails in the area. When driving to Wickaninnish Beach, the road sign that you will look for is a person with a hiking stick. The nearby Shoreline Bog Trail is a pleasant and incredibly easy trail in the area but be careful: this is one of only four trails I've walked where I've encountered a bear.
Viewpoints on the Trail to South Beach
The trail to South Beach from Wickaninnish Beach has a couple of viewpoints along the way. You can stop to look at Kwisitis Beach and the Pacific Ocean. Furthermore, there is also a totem pole en route.
The trail is a dirt trail for some parts while in other parts it is a boardwalk. There is no handrail on the boardwalk so you will need to be carefully footed. It is not the widest boardwalk and the fall would be a few feet. There are some parts that elevate but the difficulty is minimal on this trail. Step for step, I would assess this trail as easy to moderate. If you factor in the length, then it would have to be considered easy as this is a short trail.
South Beach Is Stony, Enclosed, and Not Recommended for Swimming
South Beach itself is a very stony beach. Don't expect the uninterrupted grey sand that you find on other beaches in the area. Walking on this beach is actually difficult because for every two yards you step, you slide back half of a yard.
If you look at the photo that I included to start this article, then you will see the deep impressions that my footsteps created. You sink a little with each step you take and you have to put a little more effort into lunging while walking on South Beach.
There are also oceanside bluffs that enclose the beach and they create seclusion. You wouldn't really come to this beach for a panoramic view of the ocean. If you wanted to spot ships or blowholes, then it would take increased luck at this beach relative to some other ones. Also, this isn't the best place to catch the sunset due to the enclosing bluffs blocking your view of the horizon.
The channel of water that approaches the beach is pretty narrow. This certainly isn't a beach where I would hazard swimming. The water in the area is noted for being cold. Additionally, the waves coming in are often large although some days are calmer than others.
While cold water and large waves are characteristics of many of the beaches in this part of British Columbia, I felt that being swept out was a bigger risk at South Beach relative to other beaches in the area. I have swum at Wickaninnish Beach, Long Beach, and Chesterman Beach many times without any incident.
At South Beach, my instincts were telling me not to go in the water, partly because the water appeared to get deep fast. There are many advisories in this national park about rip currents so you'll have to assess your own ability before you take any risk in the cold Canadian waters.
To conclude this article, I have posted a short video. I'm standing on a log at South Beach on what was a relatively calm day for the area. As you'll see, this isn't the lengthiest beach but it's also a good spot if you want some space to yourself.
Video of South Beach in Pacific Rim National Park
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2021 Shane Lambert