Tofino is known for its great surfing beaches and community, but there are also some fabulous places to hike. One such place is the Big Tree Trail located on Meares Island about half a kilometre across the water from Tofino. This trail features some of the largest and oldest Western red cedar trees in the world with widths up to 20 feet.
Meares island is a tribal park of the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nations and got its name in 1862 from George Henry Richards, captain of the HMS Hecate, in honor of John Meares. This island was blockaded to prevent logging by the MacMillan Bloedel company in 1984. As a result of this protest, the Big Tree trail was created with a board walk for the first 1.2 km of the trail.
The board walk takes you to some of the oldest trees in Canada. Two of which are Western red cedar trees and are in the range of 1000-1500 years old. They are known as the hanging garden tree and poster tree, and are just two of the large trees that you will see along this trail.
For those looking for an adventure, continue on past the managed trail area, and follow around to your right to circle back towards the dock. This area is quite muddy, and is difficult to walk in some places. A few other smaller trails lead down to the mudflats. The mudflats are interesting to look at, but you should return towards the direction of Morpheus island and back on the main trail which takes you back to the water taxi dock.
On the trip back to Tofino, you will see the village of Opitsat along the shoreline of Meares island, which is said to be 5000 years old.
Opitsat and Esowista are the two reserves in the area where the Tla-o-qui-aht people reside. With the crystal clear blue waters and fresh forest air this is definitely not a hike to be missed while visiting Tofino.
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