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 Home > Discover BC > Provincial Parks > Cape Scott

Cape Scott Provincial Park
Cape Scott Provincial Park is located north-east from the small logging community of Holberg on northern Vancouver Island.

Travelling Here
In order to get to Cape Scott Provincial Park, you have to drive towards Port 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.

Wilderness Park
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.

Park Highlights
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.

Campground
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.

Two Routes
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.

Nels Bight
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.

Facilities
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 of sites.

'Bear Safety'
'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.

Boardwalks
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.

Parking Lot
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.

San Josef Bay
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.

North Coast Trail
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.

Information on Cape Scott Provincial Park

Wildlife Safety

Weather

 

Guise Bay - Cape Scott Provincial Park
Guise Bay - Cape Scott Provincial Park

 

Muddy Trail into Cape Scott
Muddy Trail into Cape Scott

 

Experiment Bight
Experiment Bight

 

Eric Lake
Eric Lake

 

Nels Bight - Cape Scott Provincial Park
Nels Bight - Cape Scott Provincial Park

 

Food Cache
Food Cache

 

Boardwalks
Boardwalks

 

Wilderness Beach Camping - Nels Bight
Wilderness Beach Camping - Nels Bight

 

Beachcombing at Nels Bight
Beachcombing at Nels Bight

 

Large Trees at Cape Scott
Large Trees at Cape Scott

 

Towards Hansen Lagoon
Towards Hansen Lagoon

 
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