Cape Scott Provincial Park is located north-east from the small
logging community of Holberg
on northern Vancouver Island.
In order to get to Cape Scott Provincial Park, you have to drive
Hardy on Hwy 19. The turnoff to Holberg is 1 km (.6 mile) south
of Port Hardy. From here Holberg is 47 km (29 miles) west on public
and privately owned gravel forestry roads. The Cape Scott Provincial
Park parking lot is an additional 27 km (17 miles) from Holberg.
Cape Scott is a wilderness park that is situated in one of the least
inhabited areas of Vancouver Island. In order to get to one of the
main camping sections of the park at Nels Bight near the north-western
tip of Vancouver Island, a hike of around 17 km (11 miles) is required.
Although the trail is flat, it can be very muddy and strenuous with
the heavy rainfall and high winds always present.
The park features a number of remote sandy beaches, a rainforest,
beautiful vistas and a vast array of historical data from the early
settlements, establishment and later failure of a Danish community
from 1897 to 1907. Cape Scott from then had a colourful past of
different people trying to settle and later failing here. It was
then used a radar defence position in 1942 during WWII and then
a lighthouse and weather station established in 1959 and, finally,
the park in 1973.
Cape Scott Provincial has no designated camping areas besides 11
designated raised boardwalk sites at Eric Lake which is 3 km (2
miles) from the parking lot. There is, though, wilderness-style
camping at San Josef Bay, Guise Bay, Nels Bight, Nissen Bight and
on the newly opened North Coast Trail at Laura Creek, Shuttleworth
Bight, Cape Sutil, Nahwitti Camp, Skinner Creek and, at the start
of the eastern trailhead, Shushartie Bay.
Starting off from the parking lot, there is a junction point after
.9 km (.5 mile) of trail. One route takes you directly west to San
Josef Bay less than an hour away. The other route takes you past
Eric Lake to the Cape Scott Settlement where there is another junction
point, one way to both Nels Bight and Cape Scott or the other to
Nissen Bight and, eventually, the North Coast Trail.
If you take the turnoff to Nels Bight this takes you to a beautiful
beach about 2.4 km (1.5 miles) long. At Nels Bight there is a good
supply of fresh water and lots of room for camping. From here there
are lots of day walks that include the lighthouse at Cape Scott,
the sand neck between Experiment Bight and Guise Bay plus walking
to Nels Bight where you can find another sandy beach and more camping.
The park has pit toilets only available at certain sites; water
is present from streams but must be boiled for the proper time limit
or use treatment pills to sterilize. The park is home to a number
of different wildlife including cougars, bald eagles, frogs, black
bears so, for safety, metal food caches are available at a number
'Bear Safety' must be practised or used at all times. Not only on
the trail where encounters are common all the time but also back
at the parking lot. Horror stories abound by people who have left
food in their vehicle and later have had animals or bears break
inside and have had things ripped apart.
The walk into Cape Scott is quite gruelling. Although the trail
is fairly flat, there are lots of muddy and wet areas so balancing
on the roots is required. The trail has improved somewhat recently
with the construction of a number of new boardwalks into the park.
Some people during the long walk to Nels Bight, have counted up
to 177 different sections of boardwalk in total.
Probably the best time to hike Cape Scott for weather is late June
to early September. If you can try and arrive on a weekday at the
parking lot because on a weekend the lot and road coming in gets
to be very crowded and maddening with people visiting San Josef
Bay for the day. Also BC Parks has a parking fee to leave your car,
so remember to have some cash available for the deposit box.
If you do only have time for a day trip, San Josef Bay has a beautiful
beach. From here there is a hike up to the top of 422 metre (1,407
feet) high Mount St. Patrick from where there is an incredible view.
Starting in 2008 you can now complete a journey that includes the
all old settlements along Queen Charlotte Sound to Nissen Bight
on the North Coast Trail. Arrangements can be made to start in Port
Hardy, then arrange a water taxi through either Cape Scott Water
Taxi or Port Hardy Water Taxi to Shushartie Bay. Then once finished
the North Coast Trail near Holberg, arrange with the North Coast
Trail Shuttle to take you back to Port Hardy.
on Cape Scott Provincial Park