At the tail end of World War II, a flying boat deployed by the Royal Canadian Air Force crashed deep in the coastal rainforest.
Shortly after taking off from Tofino, the Canso 11007 experienced port engine failure and descended at 300 meters per minute into the side of a hill. It carried 12 passengers—all of whom survived—despite crash-landing with 880 pounds (400 kilograms) of bombs onboard. The explosives didn’t detonate, and were removed from the crash site later. The date was February 10, 1945.
Housed in what is now the Pacific Rim National Park, the Canso Bomber still sits exactly where it crashed all those years ago. This formally registered archaeological site has otherwise been abandoned by Parks Canada due to the dangers of romping down a highway, hiking through muddy bogs, and the potential for getting lost along the way.
Those willing to brave the trail can discover the wreck for themselves at the termination of a slightly treacherous and absolutely stunning hour-long jaunt. The site itself is a free-for-all: take photographs, climb aboard, or have a picnic. Anything one might risk doing atop a remote, secluded heap of torn metal edges is fair game.
To reach the site of the crash, park at Radar Hill and walk to the 15th telephone pole headed away from Tofino. The trailhead is slyly marked by a Sharpie doodle of an airplane. At about 10 minutes in, you’ll come across an abandoned building that’s also well worth exploring. The rest of the hike is filled with exotic flora, fauna, and tons of mud. Look out for the pink flags, they’re there to guide you.
Know Before You Go
Bring heavy-duty rain boots, rain or shine. The trail is well marked. There are boardwalks over the muddy sections.