Located on the northern tip of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Cape Scott Provincial Park is a wilderness park that offers visitors a chance to experience nature at its finest. The park features rocky promontories, including Cape Scott and Cape Sutil, which offer stunning views of the Pacific Ocean. Visitors can also enjoy the beautiful sand beaches and Sea Otter Cove while camping at the designated campground or campsite.
This park is a true paradise for hikers and campers alike, offering stunning landscapes, rich history, and an abundance of wildlife. Whether you’re an experienced outdoor enthusiast or a first-time adventurer, Cape Scott has something to offer for everyone.
Planning Your Trip: Important Information to Know Before You Go
Backpacking is a popular activity in Cape Scott Provincial Park, and travelers should plan accordingly and bring appropriate gear. The park has several trails suitable for backpacking, ranging from easy to difficult. Visitors should make sure they have sturdy hiking boots, a comfortable backpack, and lightweight camping gear. It’s also important to pack plenty of food and snacks for the trip since there are no stores or restaurants in the park.
Before starting your trip, visitors should check the park’s website or info board for up-to-date information on facilities, hours, and rules. The website provides detailed information about camping areas, including campgrounds and campsites, hiking trails for backpacking, wildlife safety tips, and more. It’s important to find out about any closures or restrictions due to weather conditions or other factors that may affect their trip.
Tripadvisor reviews can provide helpful insights from other travelers about their experiences in the park. Reading reviews can help visitors get an idea of what to expect when visiting Cape Scott Provincial Park and what they need to bring with them. Many reviewers recommend bringing a water filtration product since there is only one water source in the park.
Speaking of water sources, visitors planning to camp at the park’s designated campsites should bring enough water or a water filtration product since there is only one water source available. It’s crucial to stay hydrated during outdoor activities such as hiking the inland trail or starting at the trailhead. Additionally, travelers should pack enough water and food to avoid relying on the food cache, which may not always be available. Bringing enough water will ensure that visitors stay healthy throughout their trip.
Cape Scott Provincial Park is located about 45 minutes from Port Hardy on Vancouver Island’s northern tip. Travelers should factor in travel time when planning their trip since it takes some time to get to the park entrance from Port Hardy. However, once inside the park, visitors will be rewarded with stunning scenery and abundant wildlife.
Cape Scott Provincial Park – 4 days hiking in British Columbia
Navigating Cape Scott: Park and Activity Maps, Location, and More
Cape Scott Provincial Park is a natural wonder located at the northwestern tip of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada. The park spans over 22,000 hectares and boasts of a rugged coastline with pristine beaches that stretch for miles. It also features old-growth forests that are home to diverse wildlife species such as black bears, cougars, wolves, and bald eagles. To access the park, visitors must take a 64-kilometer gravel road from Port Hardy to the trailhead.
The park offers numerous activities for visitors to enjoy. Hiking is one of the most popular activities in Cape Scott Provincial Park. The trails range from easy walks to challenging hikes that require several days to complete. Some of the popular hiking trails include the North Coast Trail that stretches for 43 kilometres along the coast and passes through various landscapes such as beaches, bogs, cliffs, and rainforests.
Camping is another popular activity in Cape Scott Provincial Park. There are several campsites within the park where visitors can pitch their tents or park their RVs. Some of these campsites include San Josef Bay Campground and Nels Bight Campground.
Fishing is also allowed in Cape Scott Provincial Park; however, visitors must obtain a valid fishing license before casting their lines. The waters around Cape Scott are rich in salmon species such as chinook, coho, pink salmon.
Wildlife viewing is yet another exciting activity in Cape Scott Provincial Park. Visitors can spot various animals such as black bears feeding on berries or wolves prowling along the beach.
Visitors can download a map of Cape Scott Provincial Park from its official website or join the Cape Scott Facebook group for up-to-date information on weather conditions and other tips from fellow visitors. The map outlines all hiking trails within the park as well as campgrounds and points of interest.
Cape Scott Lighthouse
The park also features a historic lighthouse that was built in 1960. The lighthouse is located at the northernmost point of Vancouver Island and offers stunning views of the Pacific Ocean. Visitors can take a guided tour during the summer months and learn about its history.
Cape Scott and South Beach
Cape Scott Provincial Park is home to two popular beaches: Cape Scott Beach and South Beach. Cape Scott Beach is a secluded beach that requires hiking through the forest for several kilometres before reaching it, while South Beach is accessible by car or foot from the parking lot near San Josef Bay. Both beaches offer breathtaking views of the ocean, and visitors can enjoy swimming, sunbathing, or just relaxing on the sand.
Beaches and Waterfalls: The Natural Beauty of Cape Scott Provincial Park
If you’re looking for stunning landscapes and breathtaking natural beauty, Cape Scott Provincial Park is the place to be. With its pristine beaches, cascading waterfalls, and diverse wildlife, this park offers an unforgettable experience for nature enthusiasts and casual visitors alike.
Unwind at Sandy Beaches
One of the main attractions of Cape Scott Provincial Park is its beautiful sandy beaches. Nels Bight, San Josef Bay, and Guise Bay are just a few of the popular spots where you can relax, soak up the sun, and enjoy the cool ocean breeze. The park’s remote location and unspoiled coastlines make these beaches ideal for those seeking solitude and serenity.
Discover the Magic of Waterfalls
As you explore the park’s extensive trail system, you’ll come across several enchanting waterfalls. The most famous of these is the stunning Eric Lake Waterfall. As you follow the Cape Scott Trail, you’ll be greeted by the soothing sounds of water cascading down moss-covered rocks into crystal clear pools below – a perfect spot for a refreshing dip or a photo op.
Marvel at the Coastal Scenery
Throughout your visit to Cape Scott Provincial Park, you’ll be captivated by the dramatic coastal landscapes. From the rugged sea stacks and tide pools at San Josef Bay to the awe-inspiring cliffs and headlands along the North Coast Trail, there is no shortage of breathtaking views. Don’t forget your camera, as you’ll want to capture the incredible beauty of this park for years to come.
Best Trails in Cape Scott Provincial Park: A Comprehensive Guide
North Coast Trail: A Multi-Day Adventure for Experienced Hikers
The North Coast Trail, accessible from the trailhead, is the most popular trail in Cape Scott Provincial Park among travelers. Spanning 58 km of rugged coastline, lush rainforest, and stunning vistas, this trail offers a truly immersive wilderness experience with several campsites along the way. This challenging hike takes an average of 6-8 days to complete, with hikers traversing rocky terrain, crossing creeks, and scrambling over boulders. But the rewards are immense – from spotting whales breaching offshore to watching sea otters frolic in the kelp beds.
Main Trail and Day Hikes
The North Coast Trail has two trailheads, one at the northwestern tip of the park and another at Shushartie Bay. The main trail takes hikers through sea stacks, beaches, old-growth forests, and bogs while offering breathtaking views of the coastline. It is a challenging hike that requires experience and physical fitness as it involves steep climbs, ladders, boardwalks, and cable cars.
For those who prefer shorter hikes or day trips, there are several options available on the main trail. For instance, hiking from Shushartie Bay to Nissen Bight takes about six hours round trip while offering scenic views of sand dunes and tidal flats.
Hikers can choose to embark on backcountry adventures that take them through more rugged terrain. These adventures require camping gear and permits as they involve overnight stays in designated campsites along the way. The backcountry trails offer even more stunning views as they lead hikers through hidden coves, rocky cliffsides, and remote beaches.
For those who prefer not to hike alone or want some guidance on their journey, adventure tours from nearby communities are available. These tours offer group hiking experiences with knowledgeable guides who provide information about local flora and fauna while ensuring safety throughout the journey.
Cape Scott Trail: A Challenging Trek to the North Coast
The Cape Scott Trail is a challenging trek that leads to the northern tip of Cape Scott Provincial Park, offering hikers an exhilarating experience through some of British Columbia’s most beautiful natural scenery. This trail offers an opportunity for adventurers to explore the wilderness and appreciate nature at its finest.
Trailhead and Scenery
The trailhead for the Cape Scott Trail is located at the end of a short trail from the parking lot at the Cape Scott trailhead. From there, hikers will embark on a journey that takes them through jagged headlands, scenic ocean frontage, and a coastal bog along the way. The rugged terrain provides breathtaking views of both land and sea, making it an ideal destination for photography enthusiasts.
Inland Trail Portion
The inland trail portion of the Cape Scott Trail takes hikers through a wilderness area with no access to logging roads or other amenities. This section of the trek requires proper preparation as hikers may encounter various challenges such as rough terrain, unpredictable weather conditions, and wildlife encounters. It is important to bring adequate supplies such as water, food, first aid kits, and navigation tools when embarking on this adventure.
The Cape Scott Trail crosses several creeks before reaching the sea at the northern tip of Cape Scott Provincial Park. These creek crossings can be treacherous during periods of high water flow; therefore, hikers should exercise caution when crossing them. Proper footwear with good grip is essential in navigating these obstacles safely.
Hikers planning to camp overnight on the Cape Scott Trail should be prepared for wilderness camping and bring their own tent and supplies. There are no designated campsites along this route; however, there are several suitable areas where hikers can set up camp. As always when camping in bear country it’s important not to leave any food or scented items laying around your campsite.
Nissen Bight Trail: A Beautiful Beach Hike with Camping Options
Nissen Bight Trail is a must-visit destination for hikers and beach lovers who want to experience the beauty of Cape Scott Provincial Park. This scenic trail offers a breathtaking hike that leads to one of the most significant beaches in the area, Nissen Bight. What makes this place even more special is the camping options available for those who want to stay overnight and enjoy the natural surroundings.
Beach Camping at Nissen Bight
One of the highlights of Cape Scott Park’s Nissen Bight Trail is its beach camping options. The campground at Nissen Bight includes designated campsites as well as random wilderness camping for those seeking a more secluded experience. The designated campsites are located near the beach and offer fire pits, picnic tables, and outhouses. On the other hand, random wilderness camping allows visitors to camp anywhere they choose along the beach or in the surrounding forested areas.
Backcountry Camping Opportunities
Apart from Nissen Bight, there are other remote beaches along the trail that also offer backcountry camping opportunities. For instance, Nels Bight and Second Beach are two popular destinations where visitors can camp overnight while enjoying stunning views of their surroundings. These beaches are accessible via a short hike from Nissen Bight and offer similar amenities such as designated campsites and random wilderness camping.
Sandy Beaches and Gravel Beach Areas
The sandy beaches and gravel beach areas make Nissen Bight one of the most significant beaches in Cape Scott Provincial Park. Visitors can explore different parts of this beautiful beach by walking along its shoreline or swimming in its crystal-clear waters. The sand dunes behind the beach provide an excellent spot for picnicking or relaxing while enjoying panoramic views of your surroundings.
San Josef Bay Trail: An Easy Hike with Stunning Scenery
If you’re looking for an easy hike that offers breathtaking scenery, San Josef Bay Trail is the perfect choice. The trail is a 2.5 km walk from the parking lot to San Josef Bay, with only a slight elevation gain of 20 meters. This means that almost anyone can enjoy this scenic hike without too much difficulty.
One of the unique features of this trail is the cable car that takes visitors across the San Josef River. It’s a thrilling experience to cross over the river and walk on a boardwalk through the forest to reach the bay. The boardwalk leads through magnificent Sitka spruce trees, which are some of the largest trees in North America.
Once you arrive at San Josef Bay, you’ll be rewarded with stunning views of the bay and surrounding forest. The area is so beautiful that it’s no wonder it’s one of the most popular spots in Cape Scott Provincial Park. You can spend hours exploring all that this magnificent area has to offer.
In addition to San Josef Bay, there are other popular spots along this trail such as Guise Bay, Lowrie Bay, Shushartie Bay, and Laura Creek. Each spot offers its own unique scenery and wildlife viewing opportunities.
The trail itself is well-maintained and easy to follow, with only a slight elevation gain and loss throughout its length. This makes it an ideal hike for families with children or those who want to take their time enjoying nature without too much exertion.
Shushartie Bay Trail: A Hidden Gem
The Shushartie Bay Trail is a hidden gem that not many travelers know about in Cape Scott Provincial Park. This 8 km hike takes visitors along a rugged stretch of coastline dotted with sea stacks and tidal pools, with a section of the trail winding through old-growth forest. On the side, hikers can also explore a peaceful creek that runs parallel to the trail. The trail eventually emerges onto a stunning beach with views of Vancouver Island in the distance, making it a must-visit for nature enthusiasts.
One of the highlights of this trail’s section in Cape Scott Park is its unique coastal ecosystem – there are plenty of opportunities to spot marine life such as starfish, crabs, and sea anemones. And if you’re lucky, you might even catch sight of a pod of orcas passing by offshore! Don’t forget to explore the creek on your left for an added adventure.
Guise Bay Trail: A Quiet Escape
If you’re looking for a quiet escape from the crowds, the Guise Bay Trail is a great option. This 3.5 km trail leads to a secluded beach with great opportunities for bird watching. The trail itself is relatively easy and suitable for all skill levels.
Once you reach Guise Bay, you’ll be treated to a peaceful oasis away from the hustle and bustle of other parts of the park. Take your time to explore the beach and keep an eye out for some of the many bird species that call this area home.
What wildlife can you expect to see in Cape Scott Provincial Park?
Cape Scott Provincial Park is home to a diverse range of wildlife, including black bears, cougars, wolves, and Roosevelt elk. Visitors may also spot smaller mammals such as raccoons, minks, and river otters.
The park’s coastal location also makes it a prime spot for marine wildlife sightings. Visitors can expect to see gray whales, orcas, sea lions, and harbor seals. Bald eagles and other seabirds are also commonly spotted along the coast.
During the summer months, visitors may be lucky enough to witness the annual salmon run, where thousands of fish migrate upstream to spawn. This event attracts a variety of predators, including black bears and bald eagles, making it a unique and exciting wildlife viewing opportunity.
It’s important to remember that these animals are wild and should be treated with respect. Visitors should keep a safe distance and never approach or feed any wildlife they encounter. It’s also recommended to carry bear spray and make noise while hiking to avoid surprising any animals.
Fishing in Cape Scott Provincial Park: Tips and Regulations
When it comes to fishing in Cape Scott Provincial Park, a true angler’s paradise awaits. Both novice and experienced fishers can enjoy the excitement of reeling in a prized catch amidst breathtaking landscapes. To ensure a successful and responsible fishing experience, it’s crucial to understand the local tips and regulations.
Know the Fishing Spots
With over 115 kilometres of coastline, Cape Scott is home to a variety of fishing spots. These include Nissen Bight, Nels Bight, and Fisherman Bay. Venturing into the park’s pristine lakes such as Eric Lake and Guise Bay also offers excellent opportunities for freshwater fishing.
Tips for a Successful Catch
Timing is key when it comes to reeling in a bountiful catch. The best time to fish in Cape Scott is during the summer months, with June to August being the prime time for salmon. Using the right bait and tackle is also essential, so consider consulting with local experts or bait shops for recommendations.
Understand the Regulations
Fishing in Cape Scott Provincial Park is subject to British Columbia’s fishing regulations, ensuring the sustainability and preservation of the park’s aquatic life. All anglers must have a valid fishing license, which can be obtained online or at local retailers. Familiarize yourself with catch limits, size restrictions, and protected species to avoid fines and penalties.
Remember: Catch and release fishing is highly encouraged in order to preserve the park’s fish populations for future generations. When practicing catch and release, handle fish with care and return them to the water as quickly as possible.
Safety Tips for Hiking and Camping in Cape Scott Provincial Park
Located on the northwestern tip of Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Cape Scott Provincial Park is a haven for adventurous hikers and campers. With its rugged coastline, dense forests, and stunning beaches, the park offers a true wilderness experience. To ensure a safe and enjoyable trip, follow these safety tips while hiking and camping in the park.
Prepare for the Unpredictable Weather
Weather in Cape Scott Provincial Park can be unpredictable, with rain, wind, and fog being common occurrences. To stay safe and comfortable, pack waterproof clothing, wear layers, and bring extra clothing in case of sudden weather changes. A good quality rain jacket and waterproof hiking boots are essential for staying dry during wet conditions.
Be Bear and Wildlife Aware
The park is home to black bears and cougars, as well as various smaller wildlife species. To avoid encounters, make noise while hiking, keep a safe distance, and store food in bear-resistant containers or hang it at least 4 meters off the ground. It’s also a good idea to carry bear spray and know how to use it in case of an encounter.
Follow Leave No Trace Principles
Preserve the beauty of Cape Scott Provincial Park by practicing Leave No Trace principles. This includes packing out all trash, minimizing campfire impact, and camping on durable surfaces like established campsites or sandy beaches. Remember, it’s our responsibility to protect the environment and keep it pristine for future visitors.
Stay on Marked Trails and Respect Park Boundaries
Many trails in Cape Scott Provincial Park can be challenging and muddy, especially during rainy periods. To prevent getting lost and minimize environmental impact, stay on marked trails and respect park boundaries. Carry a map and compass or a GPS device to help navigate the park’s trail system, and avoid shortcuts or creating new trails.
Plan Ahead and Know Your Limits
Planning your trip to Cape Scott Provincial Park is crucial for a safe and enjoyable experience. Research trail conditions, difficulty levels, and distances before starting your hike. Ensure you have enough time and energy to complete your chosen route, and always let someone know your itinerary and expected return date. Remember, it’s better to turn back or adjust your plans if conditions or your physical abilities change.
Getting There: Transportation to Cape Scott Provincial Park
Reaching Cape Scott Provincial Park is an adventure in itself, but with a little planning and some helpful tips, you’ll be well on your way to experiencing this stunning hiking and camping paradise. Located at the northwestern tip of Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada, the park is a remote wilderness that offers a true escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
Road Trip to Cape Scott Provincial Park
The most popular way to reach the park is by car. From Victoria, the trip will take about 6-7 hours, with a journey of approximately 563 kilometers (350 miles). The drive includes a mix of paved and gravel roads, so be prepared for some bumpy stretches. Make sure to fuel up in Port Hardy, as there are no gas stations in the park or along the gravel roads.
Public Transportation and Shuttle Services
Public transportation options to Cape Scott Provincial Park are limited. The closest bus stop is in Port Hardy, which is still around 64 kilometers (40 miles) away from the park entrance. From there, you can arrange a shuttle service to take you to the trailhead. Companies like Cape Scott Water Taxi and Shuttle and North Coast Trail Shuttle offer transportation services between Port Hardy and Cape Scott, but make sure to book in advance as these services fill up fast during peak season.
Sea Voyage: Accessing the Park by Boat
For a unique and scenic approach, consider accessing the park by boat. Boaters can anchor in several locations along the park’s coastline, such as the Winter Harbour, San Josef Bay, and Sea Otter Cove. However, be aware of the park’s strict regulations for marine access, as there are no designated mooring buoys or anchorages. Additionally, the weather in this region is unpredictable, so ensure you have a reliable means of communication and check the marine forecast before embarking on your voyage.
Driving Directions to Cape Scott Provincial Park
To reach Cape Scott Provincial Park, follow these driving directions:
- From Port Hardy, head west on Highway 19.
- Turn left onto Holberg Road and continue for about 38 miles (61 km).
- Turn right onto Cape Scott Road and drive for approximately 11 miles (18 km).
- At the end of the road, you’ll find the trailhead and parking area for the park.
What are the best hiking trails in Cape Scott Provincial Park?
Cape Scott Trail – A challenging 47km round trip hike that leads to the iconic Cape Scott Lighthouse.
San Josef Bay Trail – A relatively easy 5km round trip hike that takes you to the beautiful sandy beaches of San Josef Bay.
North Coast Trail – A challenging and remote 58km one-way trail that offers stunning coastal views and diverse wildlife encounters.
Nels Bight Trail – A 29km round trip hike that takes you through old-growth forests and ends at the pristine Nels Bight beach.
Nissen Bight Trail – A moderate 32km round trip hike, ideal for those seeking a less crowded path to a beautiful beach destination.
Is it necessary to book a campsite in advance?
While it’s not strictly necessary to book a campsite in advance at Cape Scott Provincial Park, it’s highly recommended during peak season (June to September). Campsites are available on a first-come, first-served basis, so booking in advance ensures you have a spot and can avoid disappointment. If you’re planning to visit during the shoulder seasons, you might have more flexibility.
Are there any guided tours available in the park?
Yes, there are guided tours available in Cape Scott Provincial Park. Several tour operators offer guided hiking trips, providing an opportunity to explore the park with an experienced guide, ensuring a safe and informative experience.
What is the best time of year to visit Cape Scott Provincial Park?
The best time of year to visit Cape Scott Provincial Park is during the summer months, typically from June to September. During this time, the weather is more favourable for hiking and camping, with warmer temperatures and less rainfall.
What is the difficulty level of the hiking trails in Cape Scott Provincial Park?
The difficulty level of hiking trails in Cape Scott Provincial Park varies from easy to challenging, depending on the chosen trail. Some trails are well-maintained and accessible for beginners, while others are more rugged and require a higher level of fitness and experience. Overall, the park offers diverse options for hikers of all skill levels.
Is there potable water available in the park?
Yes, potable water is available in the park at designated campsites. However, it’s always a good idea to bring your own water treatment or purification method as a backup, since water sources can occasionally be unreliable or contaminated.
Are campfires allowed in Cape Scott Provincial Park?
Yes, campfires are allowed in Cape Scott Provincial Park, but only in designated fire rings at established campgrounds. Please remember to practice responsible campfire etiquette and always ensure your fire is fully extinguished before leaving the area.
Are there any nearby towns or cities to stock up on supplies?
If you need to stock up on supplies before heading to Cape Scott Provincial Park, the nearest town is Port Hardy. Located about 64 km (40 miles) south of the park, Port Hardy offers a variety of stores, including grocery markets, outdoor gear shops, and gas stations to ensure you’re well-equipped for your adventure.
Is there a fee to enter Cape Scott Provincial Park?
There is no fee for day-use visitors at Cape Scott Provincial Park. However, if you plan on camping overnight, there are camping fees that apply. For more information on camping fees, visit the park’s official website.
Can I rent camping gear at Cape Scott Provincial Park?
No, there is no rental service for camping gear at Cape Scott Provincial Park. You will need to bring your own equipment or rent it from a nearby town before your visit.
Is there cell phone reception in Cape Scott Provincial Park?
Cell phone reception in Cape Scott Provincial Park is generally very limited or non-existent, as the park is situated in a remote area. It’s advisable to carry a satellite phone or other communication devices for emergencies.
Why Cape Scott Provincial Park is a Must-Visit Destination for Outdoor Enthusiasts
For outdoor enthusiasts looking for an adventure, Cape Scott Provincial Park is a must-visit destination. With its rugged terrain, stunning scenery, and challenging trails, this park offers something for everyone.
Whether you’re an experienced hiker or just starting out, Cape Scott has a trail that will suit your needs. From the challenging Scott Trail to the easy San Josef Bay Trail, there are plenty of options to explore.
With its diverse range of trails and stunning natural beauty, Cape Scott Provincial Park should be on every outdoor enthusiast’s bucket list.