The Cape Scott Trail – Let’s See Why? The Christensen grave just off the main trail near the Nel’s/Nissen junction, Distance: 3.7km | Elevation Loss: 60m | Time: 1.5 hours. We explored the small … Hi, I’m Taryn! It’s a 23.6km hike from the trailhead to the lighthouse at Cape Scott, so most visitors do it as a backpacking trip, staying at one of the campsites along the way. Distance: 2.5km | Elevation Gain/Loss: none | Time: 45 minutes. The logging road to the trail head is a bit rough to, but if taken slowly any car can do it. Other pocket beaches on the trail can also be great campsites. Cable cars help you across rivers and boardwalks keep you out of some (but not most) of the mud. Distance: 6.3km | Elevation Gain/Loss: none | Time: 2 hours. I’m sure you’ll have a great hike. The landscape is dominated by small trees, lots of grass, and water running everywhere. Just before the 2km marker, arrive at another T-junction. Turn right to go to the Fisherman River campground and outhouse. On the other side, it heads back into the forest through a particularly muddy patch. Day hiking is free. Make lots of noise as you hike. Unfortunately, it can also attract partiers. The following information comes from the BC Parks website, http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/bcparks/explore/parkpgs/cape_scott/hiking.html. Cape Scott Cost: $10/person/night for camping. Each year, thousands of backpackers and nature lovers head to the northern limits of Vancouver Island, bound for the jewel of the region: Cape Scott Provincial Park and the recently completed North Coast Trail. There is a great view from the top of the dunes and you are likely to have the beach all to yourself. Cape Scott Trail is a 29.8 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Mount Waddington B, British Columbia, Canada that features a lake and is rated as difficult. On the other side of the bridge, follow the boardwalk and a small set of stairs to a junction. Pack warm close and be prepared for wet weather, but either way go. She lives in Victoria, BC. Less than 2k from here to San Josef Bay (I had to hike farther to get water which made it about 3k). Crossing the open fields near Hansen Lagoon. Adventurous hikers can continue past San Josef Bay on a rough trail to the summit of 417m-tall Mount St. Patrick, 2km from west San Josef beach. A few minutes past the junction, arrive at an info board at the former Spencer Farm. If you need help planning your trip, as always, ask me in the comments. Zoom in and click around to see everything. Campsites: 11 wooden tent pads connected by boardwalk | Toilet: outhouse on the left side of the trail towards Cape Scott | Water: collect from the stream running through the centre of the campground or from Eric Lake | Food Storage: Food lockers on the left of the trail in the centre of the campground. The Kwakwaka’wakw call this area Gwigwakawalis, which means “whales on the beach”. Follow the gravel road up the hill. There are six wilderness campsites along the North Coast Trail: Shushartie Bay, Skinner Creek, Nahwitti River, Cape Sutil, Irony Creek (Shuttleworth Bight) and Laura Creek. Some maps show trails branching off this trail to the south, but I couldn’t find them. Stay on the main trail as it heads into the forest. Never run. From the highway turnoff, follow Holberg Road for 29km passing Kains Lake and Nahwitti Lake on your right. The black dot is a bear. In the meantime, clamber underneath the huge fallen trunks and pick up the trail on the other side. If you are hiking the North Coast Trail, you need to take a water taxi to the start of the trail at Shushartie Bay. When I hiked the north coast trail we saw a LOT of bears. It commemorates the life of the 12-year-old son of one of the Danish settlers who died of tetanus. Temperatures between June and September are usually 8-15°C (46-59°F). On the south (left) side of the trail, you will see the remains of a collapsed building. Apparently, a bear broke in to eat the dog food stored inside. About 2km from Guise Bay the old plank road turns into a rough gravel road that the lighthouse keepers drive their tractor on. You should treat all water by purifying, filtering, or boiling it. Consider an overnight stay in Port Hardy. Abandoned tractor hidden off to the side of the trail. Most of the trail is in thick coastal rainforest. The trail dead-ends behind the dyke. Try to time your visit for low tide. The Cape Scott Trail systems and North Coast Trails are remote and require solid trip planning. Read my tips for bear safety. Unlike other popular coastal hikes like the West Coast Trail, hiking to Cape Scott is cheap and easy. (Kids are $5/night.) Distance: 2.9km | Elevation Loss: m | Time: 1 hour. It’s made of crushed gravel and boardwalk that is smooth enough to push a wheelchair or a stroller. If you see a wolf, scare it off by gathering your group together, making yourself look big by raising your arms or opening your coat, and yelling. If you don’t have your own car, you can also book a spot on the North Coast Trail Shuttle. Plan to collect water at low tide or pack in water from the trailhead. This section of trail is brand new, as the bridge over the Fisherman River was replaced a few years ago and this section of trail was built to connect it. The Kwakwaka’wakw call this tidal lagoon Wachlalis, which means “river on the beach in the bay”. Hike to Cape Scott from Nels takes about 2 hours and is a great hike and well worth it. Trail Distance: 23.6km (one way from the trailhead to Cape Scott Lighthouse), How long does it take to hike to Cape Scott: 2-5 days, Best Time to Hike to Cape Scott: June to September. Turn right and head west across Guise Bay. Looking down at the lighthouse keeper’s house from the Lighthouse. In most areas of Cape Scott Provincial Park, dogs are prohibited. If you’re on a budget, the North Coast Trail Backpackers Hostel gets good reviews. After the info board, the trail crosses a wooden bridge over Hansen Creek. Instead, look around for small dry branches. The trail continues down the other side of the mountain to Sea Otter Cove (5.6km from San Josef) and Lowrie Bay (7.5km from San Josef). It makes for a tiring hike. It’s totally secluded and heart stoppingly gorgeous. There are no reservations – everything is first-come, first served. You can camp here too. June, July, and August are the driest months, but you can still expect lots of rain and fog. Cape Scott Provincial Park Short Term Forecast. This campsite is set in dense forest 9.3km from the trailhead and isn’t too appealing. Did you find it busier this year with the West Coast Trail closed for the season? The trail ends at Nissen Bight, and from there, hikers follow the Cape Scott trail out to the trailhead. If you’re coming from the mainland I recommend you get the Horseshoe Bay to Departure Bay ferry which lands you in Nanaimo, the central hub of Vancouver Island. After 16.8km in the forest, the trail emerges on the sandy beach of Nel’s Bight, where there is wonderful camping. Go left at a major fork, and arrive at the Cape Scott Lighthouse a few minutes later. The trail to San Josef Bay heads left and your route to Cape Scott turns right. The main campsites and points of interest along the trail to Cape Scott are in red, additional side hikes are in orange. When you are done, use water to douse your fire to make sure it is completely out. Cape Scott Provincial Park is a truly magnificent area of rugged coastal wilderness that is located at the north-western tip of Vancouver Island, 563 kilometers from Victoria. At just 2.5km from the trailhead, San Josef Bay is a popular spot for families and beginners. The mud pools between disintegrating boardwalk and logs creating a difficult hiking surface. The beautiful white sand of Guise Bay is 20.7km from the trailhead. Look for a faint trail heading north (right) into the forest. We spooked a black bear on my last visit and saw over a dozen eagles feeding. This route is very challenging, and not recommended for beginners. It heads slightly uphill and becomes very wet and slippery as you work you way over sections of old settlers corduroy road. If you don’t want to hike the Cape Scott trail, but would like a excellent day adventure from the Port Hard area, this is a most worthy destination for the day. The famous shoe tree near Nahwitti Lake on the drive to Cape Scott. It can continue to smoulder under the sand and can injure people. Walking the overland trail between Nel’s Bight and Bowen Beach. After about 1km, reach a T-junction. If you must build a fire, do it in the metal fire pit instead of building your own. Each year, thousands of backpackers and nature lovers head to the northern limits of Vancouver Island, bound for the jewel of the region: Cape Scott Provincial Park and the recently completed North Coast Trail. At about 2.7km from the trailhead, descend some stairs and cross a creek. The Cape Scott/San Josef Bay trailhead is at the end of San Josef Main, about 18.5KM from Holberg (65KM from Highway 19). There are also lots of cute cabins on Airbnb. The North Coast Trail map outlines the logistics, features, hurdles and attractions along the entire length. San Josef Bay in Cape Scott is my absolute favourite place on Vancouver Island. Don’t cut down live trees for firewood as they don’t burn well. North Coast Trail: This trail is an extension of the original Cape Scott Trail, stretching 43.1 kilometres, with a total hiking distance of about 59.5 kilometres. It is mostly flat, but is often very muddy. Cape Scott and the North Coast Trail spans 256 pages. Looking across the dunes towards Experiment Bight. Port Renfrew is five hours north of Victoria, and the trailhead is another two hours down a gravel road. Cape Scott is located near Port Hardy, at the northern tip of the island. The path follows an old Danish settlers’ road. All of the main junctions on the logging roads have signs with info about how to get to Cape Scott, so navigation is pretty easy. Cape Scott is a Mecca for hiking enthusiasts, and hikers should be prepared and knowledgeable for coastal hiking. If you purchase through these links I make a small commission at no cost to you. The vegetation changes from lush old-growth forest to spindly trees in a more open and boggy forest. The tiny little trees growing from the top of the stacks defy the onslaught of the raging Pacific on a daily basis . We service: The North Coast Trail, Port Hardy, Port McNeill, Rivers Inlet, Shushartie Bay, Bella Bella, Drury Inlet, Sayward, Klemtu, Calvert Island, Bella Coola, Smiths Inlet, Seymour Inlet, Kingcome Inlet, Knights Inlet and more. To avoid attracting wolves, keep a clean camp, and always store your food properly. The Eric Lake campground has boardwalk paths to several tent platforms. There are actually two beaches here. As the bog ends and you reenter the forest, you’ll reach another junction. Along the path you will journey back in time as signs of civilization still present from the Danish pioneers who settled the land 100 years ago reveal themselves. From the trailhead, follow the trail nearly 1km to a junction. … Distance: Up to 1.5km | Elevation Gain/Loss: none | Time: Up to 40 minutes. Campsites: Unlimited space on the beach above the high tide line | Toilet: Outhouse at the west end of the beach where the Cape Scott trail enters | Water: Collect from the creek on the east side of the beach near the North Coast Trail entrance. From the junction, the trail heads downhill in the forest over some roots and rocks. 18 KM hike in to ranger station which we were lucky enough to get to make use of. After 16.8km in the forest, the trail emerges on the sandy beach of Nel’s Bight, where there is wonderful camping. Cape Scott park on the northern tip of Vancouver Island, British Columbia. There's lots of mud. A VITA volunteer – Alan Philip of Duncan – has compiled a series of 7 topographic maps that cover the entire Trail from Victoria to Cape Scott. The trail also changes into a long straight section of old settler corduroy road. What a journey to get there. Take the short trail to Eric Lake to relax on the gravel beach. Follow signs into the forest to pools in the creek. The road quickly turns to gravel. About 2km from Nel’s Bight, the trail emerges from the forest onto Bowen Beach. You can also climb the metal stairs up to the light for a great view. Read my post about the best things to do on North Vancouver Island. The Kwakwaka’wakw call this beach Kechegwis, which means “wood drifted on beach”. Full-page maps, essential trail information, vivid photographs and a heck of a lot more . It’s a long 1km walk from the Cape Scott Trail entrance. As you get closer to the beach, the forest opens up and thick salal bushes line the trail. Cape Scott is one of the best places to hike in BC. Just after the 6km mark, the trail gets a lot rougher. While you may have less beach to walk on at high tide, all parts of the trail are still accessible. After yelling didn’t work, we had to fire bangers to scare it off the beach as it was habituated to people and didn’t want to move. This section is part of the original Cape Scott Trail. Recently I learned that burning driftwood can create toxic smoke from the salt build up in the logs. The main challenges to avoid this week included heat exhaustion and dehydration, especially when hiking the long beach sections. The Cape Scott Trail is located at the northern tip of Vancouver Island. Always drive with your headlights on. In the first minute, look for some huge old-growth cedar trees on the north (right) side of the trail. The Cape Scott Trail is a classic trek for beginners and intermediates alike. Continue along the trail, following boardwalk for a few more minutes. Er führt entlang eines Sees, durch schönen Wald und es gibt oftmals Wildtiere zu sehen. I also made a custom Google map for you. -Taryn, Cape Scott Provincial Park is located at the northern tip of Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada. At Nissen Bight, the trail connects with the older Cape Scott Trail to exit at San Josef Bay, making the entire hike 58 kilometres. The trail becomes progressively easier in the east to west direction. The vertical mini sea stacks looks more like giant tufa mounds than ocean eroded rocks. This post includes: Hey there: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, which means I earn a small commission at no extra cost to you if you make a purchase. When we hiked the North Coast Trail, we stayed at the Glen Lyon Inn in Port Hardy first. Step out of the trees on the sand. Campsites: Unlimited space on the beach above the high tide line | Toilet: Three outhouses – one where the trail meets the beach, one just past the ranger station, and one on the other side of the creek | Water: Collect from the creek on the west side of the beach. ©Taryn Eyton 2014-2020 All Rights Reserved, Other Trails in Cape Scott Provincial Park, Quatse River Regional Park and Campground, Backcountry Permits section of BC Parks’ Discover Camping portal, Leave No Trace practices for going to the bathroom, Your Guide to the West Coast Trail in British Columbia, Kayaking in the Johnstone Strait: Everything You Need to Know, Wild Side Trail: Hiking and Camping Guide, Sunshine on the Edge of the World: Nootka Trail Trip Report, The Ultimate Guide to the Pacific Marine Circle Route on Vancouver Island, How to Visit Avatar Grove, Big Lonely Doug and Other Big Trees on Vancouver Island, 20+ Beautiful Weekend Getaways from Vancouver, how to get to Cape Scott Provincial Park, including driving directions and where to stay nearby, how much it costs to hike and camp at Cape Scott, a detailed trail description of the hike from the trailhead to Cape Scott lighthouse, other hikes in the area including San Josef Bay, where to camp in Cape Scott Provincial Park, tips for making your Cape Scott trip a success, Western Forest Products San Josef River Rec Site (Near the trailhead), San Josef Heritage Park (Near the trailhead). 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