Hiking Willowbrae to Halfmoon Bay and Florencia Bay
Rate this Adventure Canada › Willowbrae Trailhead
Added by Becky Simrose
- Beautiful secluded sandy beaches
- Tide pools
- Marine wildlife
- Crazy waves in storm season
- 5.6 km roundtrip hike with 173 stairs to climb
The Willowbrae trailhead is not marked along the Tofino Ucluelet highway and the turnoff is easy to miss. Driving from Tofino look for Willowbrae Road on the right hand side, 2 kilometers past the Port Alberni junction. From Ucluelet this road is on the left, 5 kilometers from town. Drive up this gravel road to the parking lot with a yellow barrier at the trailhead.
The trail begins as a wide gravelled pathway through moss draped cedar and hemlock rainforest. At 1.2 kilometers the trail branches. Straight ahead wooden stairs drop for 200 meters down to Florencia Bay, a long beautiful expanse of beach with little streamlets running across to the ocean. You may see a few surfers here but often will have the entire beach to yourself.
When you have explored this beach, climb the long flight of stairs and then from the junction, take the Halfmoon Bay trail, a 500 meter trail that meanders along boardwalks through the rainforest to Halfmoon Bay. The last part of the trail drops down over 100 wooden steps to the even more secluded smaller Halfmoon Bay beach.
The rocks at the south end of Halfmoon Bay have great tide pools with green and pink anemones and other cool little sea creatures.
Along the rocky cliff is a narrow passage in the rock face, with moss and ferns lining the tall rock walls of the crevice, and a rocky floor sloping down and out out to the ocean.
At the south end of the beach look for a faint trail that climbs the slippery slope up to the headland where massive rocks break the churning waves. Stay to the right at the top. At any time of the year the waves here are interesting, as they roar into the surge channel and drain away. If you are lucky enough to be here in the Winter storm season and the conditions are right you are in for a spectacular show as the waves literally explode from the blow hole. Exercise extreme caution and keep your distance. Remember that the waves are powerful, dangerous, and move very fast.
The hike to both beaches is about 2.8 kilometers on an out-and-back trail, which can be done easily in 1 to 2 hours. Allow more time, though because you will love exploring this area.
- Rain gear
- Good hiking shoes or boots
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