- Distance 5km
- Elevation Gain 35 meters
- Camping No
This hike provides an opportunity to visit the site of a Royal Canadian Air Force Canso 11007 that crashed shortly after takeoff on February 12, 1945. The plane still remains on the side of a hill and is surprisingly fairly intact despite the damage sustained from the crash. The trail to the site is located just south of Radar Hill and it passes through a bog that is extremely muddy, even during the late summer months. Besides this section, the trail is well marked and relatively easy but you should expect to spend a fair amount of time passing through the mud.
From the lower parking lot at Radar Hill, walk back along the road towards the Highway and turn right, walking alongside of the highway heading south. Begin counting the telephone poles as you make sure to stay off the road and away from the passing cars. The trail enters the forest at the 15th telephone pole south of the Radar Hill turnoff. When you are close, there is a very small drawing of a plane on the telephone pole.
The first section of the trail is very easy as the wide trail heads into the forest and quickly away from the noise of the cars along the highway. Within minutes, the trail begins to climb gradually but is still not that difficult. Within 1km, you reach an old, abandoned building. Walk up the stairs and inside the building as the graffiti, ripped walls, and dangling wires come across as very creepy. Go left inside the building, past the spray painted words saying the "Trail is this way", and exit out of the back of the building.
Follow the trail away from the building as it begins to descend quickly from the building through a much narrower section. Near the bottom, you enter the bog and this section is extremely muddy and will slow your progress. During the late, drier summer months, there are still sections of mud that cover your shoes. During the earlier spring, you can expect the mud to be knee high in sections so be prepared to return with extremely muddy shoes, pants, and legs.
Continue following the markers through the muddy bog. There are several different coloured markers and the string on the trees marks the boundaries of the trail area, all lead in the same general direction. The trail eventually becomes less muddy as you find yourself walking through a section of rugged, coastal trees.
Eventually, you pass a small pond that is almost perfectly circular. This pond is actually a crater that was created when the rescuers removed the bombs from the plane and, instead of trying to move them out through the difficult terrain, decided to detonate them near the wreckage. Just beyond the pond, the tail end of the plane begins to come into view between the trees as it lays on the side of the mountain.
It's worth climbing up the trail on the right side of the plane to see inside and to view the wreckage from different angles. The inside has experienced years of vandalism but the plane is still amazingly in good condition for its age. After you have spent time at the wreckage, carefully climb back down to the bottom of the hill and walk back along the trail, passing the pond. Walk through the muddy bog, staying on course via the ropes and trail markers. The trail ascends up the hill and back to the abandoned building as you leave the difficult part behind. From the building, walk back along the wide trail to the highway, then turn left and walk alongside the highway heading north as you return to the parking lot at the Radar Hill turnoff.
How to get to Canso Plane Crash Site
The trail to the Canso Plane Crash Site is located exactly 15 telephone poles south of the turnoff to Radar Hill. There is no parking allowed along the highway, so the closest parking is at the Radar Hill turnoff a few hundred meters from the highway.
Since you are parking in Pacific Rim National Park, you will be required to purchase day passes for the number of users in your vehicle. These can be purchased from a machine at the lower Radar Hill parking lot or at the Visitor Centre at the Highway #4 junction to Ucluelet.
Once you have parked in the lower Radar Hill parking lot, walk back towards the highway and walk south, counting the number of telephone poles until #15. Be very careful walking alongside the Highway as there is very little space between the road's shoulder and the speed cars in some sections.