I’ve wanted to do this hike for years and just never made it there… Either it was too rainy when I got to Tofino or I was in Tofino to go to the beach or another event. If I’m being honest, I also thought this hike was in Ucluelet (not Tofino like it actually is!) so it was probably best I waited for a friend to suggest we go and tag along with them so I actually got where I planned to go!
I’m talking about the hike to the famous Canso Bomber plane crash site in Tofino. Starting near Radar Hill, you walk through some dense West Coast rain forest, a genuine muddy bog, an absolute maze of tree roots, and around a crater lake left by bomb detonations after the crash. In total, the hike was only about 4.9km rountrip, but it was certainly one of the more interesting short hikes I’ve ever done!
Let’s start at the beginning: You park in the small lot on the road to Radar Hill. You are within the Pacific Rim National Park boundaries here, so grab a parking pass to avoid any tickets and such. Before you set off, plan accordingly… If it’s been dry, you’re probably good to go in runners but if there’s been a lot of rain, it will be VERY muddy. I made the trip in a dry stretch and so didn’t have to deal with any mud, but there were shoes scattered about on the trail. From what I’ve heard, it sounds like the mud can eat shoes off hikers’ feet and only gives them up as it starts to dry up. I certainly said a little silent prayer for all those people who lost their shoe(s) and had to walk out barefoot!
Once you are ready to go, walk back out to the highway and turn right. As you go, you can count the poles to find the trail entrance. The trail starts at the 15th pole. I never really started counting, but found the entrance just fine – there were flags, strings, and graffiti on the pole. Turn there.
The trail starts with a gradual climb to an old abandoned building. It’s now covered in graffiti, empty and very smelly, but I have no idea what it was used for when it was built. There are these tracks or drains built into the floor inside but the walls are solid concrete so nothing was driving in and out. The smell really was quite gross so I didn’t hang around long to investigate (if you know more about the building, please comment below!).
To continue on the hike, you walk around the perimeter of the building and you’ll see the trail veer off to the right and go down an embankment. The ground levels out again, but you’ll be in the bog now. Depending on the season and the day you choose to go, this will either be the muddiest hike you’ve ever encountered or it’ll be just fine. Either way, it’s going to be entertaining! Have fun, get a little dirty, and follow the many flags and rope through the bog. You’ll see everyone takes their own route… just pick the driest and go!
The hike will probably take 30-60 mins from the parking lot to the crash, depending on the mud situation and how fast you decide to go. As you get close to the crash site, you’ll see this mini lake. When the plane crashed in 1945 it was carrying 12 people and a few bombs. Amazingly enough, everyone survived the crash and none of the bombs detonated. After the crash, the bombs were dragged a safe distance away and detonated, creating a 6m crater that is now filled with water. Once you’ve reached this crater, look up and there’s the plane!!
I’m sure the crash left a big gap in the trees around it when it happened, but as time has passed, the plane wreck is now just simply perched on the side of a hill surrounded by lush green forest. It’s in remarkable shape considering it crashed over 70 years ago and was fully stripped (of guns and electronics) by the army rescuers that came in to save the crew.
The years have brought many curious hikers and would be artists. The plane is covered in graffiti (the little dog face was my favourite! haha) and stores a remarkable amount of empties (don’t be that guy… Please pack out what you pack in!). It’s a relic from another time and generation and my trip here helped reignite my interest in the goings on of war on our beautiful West Coast.
I spent about an hour exploring in and around the plane. You can get right inside, climb on top, and have a rest under the wings. You can venture a little further out from the plane and see other pieces of the wreckage that broke off during the crash. It’s steep terrain here, but use caution and you’ll be just fine.
The hike out was fine and I was happy to pass quite a few people on their way in to see this pretty cool site. Back at the car, I thanked my lucky stars for the dry day and mud-free trails! I also happily checked the Bomber plane crash hike off my summer bucket list for 2018!
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