Visitors - Important Notice!
of May 26, 2008:
Hikers: The Nahwitti River Cable Car
crossing is now open for public use. Please ensure
that you follow the operational instructions on the
proper use of the cable car.
- Visitors - please watch for information signs in the park.
- The boardwalk is extremely slippery when wet. Please avoid hiking beside the boardwalk and off the established trail as this increases sediment flow and will damage the sensitive riparian habitat.
campers and hikers should be prepared for wet conditions
- Please note: the water in Cape Scott Provincial Park is untreated and must be boiled for a minimum of 20 minutes or treated with a chemical water purification kit prior to human consumption.
Cape Scott Provincial Park is a truly magnificent area of
rugged coastal wilderness that is located at the northwestern
tip of Vancouver Island, 563 kilometers from Victoria.
in 1973 and named after the site of a lighthouse that has
guided mariners since 1960, Cape Scott is characterized
by more than 115 kilometers of scenic ocean frontage, including
about 30 kilometers of spectacular remote beaches.
park stretches from Shushartie Bay in the east, then westward
around Cape Scott and south to San Josef Bay.
Rocky promontories, salt marshes and jagged headlands
punctuate the fine-textured, white-sand beaches. The most
of these beaches, Nels Bight, stretches more than 2,400
long and 210 meters wide at low tide, and is one of the
most popular camping destinations. Other significant
beaches include San Josef Bay, Guise Bay, Experiment
Bay and Nissen Bight.
Visitors can choose between a day
hike or a backpacking excursion to explore the sandy
beaches, rainforests and
and muskeg of this wilderness park. For information
about hiking trails, click
Anyone contemplating a visit
to Cape Scott Provincial Park should be prepared for such
adverse weather conditions
as high winds and heavy rain, which are common at
of the year.
Cape Scott Provincial Park is home to sea stacks,
which visitors can access at low tide. The eastern portion
of the park contains a number of estuaries that are accessible
only by boat. Cape Scott is also fortunate to have some excellent
examples of old-growth forest, including Sitka Spruce in
excess of 3 meters in diameter, and Western Red Cedar of
similar sizes. Examples of these trees can be found throughout
the park, including on the easy hike to San Josef Beach.
About 20 minutes north of the Eric Lake campsite is a Sitka
Spruce that measures more than 7 meters in circumference.
This is a popular spot for hikers to stop and absorb their
surroundings, as well as take photographs.
lighthouse and the Cape are outside
the provincial park boundary and are private property
belonging to the Department of National Defence. The
old trail and foghorn were built during World War 2
by DND staff to give access to the beach, etc. but as
the old structures, boardwalk and suspension bridges
deteriorated, they became dangerous and were removed
by the Federal Government. BC Parks is not responsible
for this trail and not allowed to trespass on this private
contemplating a visit to Cape Scott Provincial Park
are reminded that the park is a wilderness area without
supplies or equipment of any kind. Parts of the trail
are very muddy. Holberg, located 16 km from the trailhead,
is the nearest settlement. Visitors should be in possession
of suitable maps.
though Cape Scott is a wilderness park, a variety of
tourist facilities are located nearby in Port Hardy,
Port McNeill, Holberg and Port Alice. Accommodation
in these communities is limited, so reservations are
recommended. Consult the Accommodation and Campground
Directory published by Tourism British Columbia for
names, addresses and other pertinent information.
Topographic Series maps, scale 1:50,000, Index No. 102,
Sheets 1/9 and 1/16 cover the Cape Scott area. These
maps are available from most map retailers in British
is no longer a campsite, hut or pit toilet at Donaldson
are now pit toilets at Guise Bay and Fisherman River.
Cape Scott is a hike-in park, located at the northwestern
tip of Vancouver Island. A parking lot at the Cape Scott
and San Josef Bay trailhead near the southeast corner of
the park is on Western Forest Products land and is provided
by the company for the convenience of park users. The lot,
which is located 64 kilometers west of Port Hardy, can be
reached by driving on a combination of public highways and
private, active logging roads. Port Hardy is the northern
terminus of Highway 19, which connects with Vancouver Island
communities south to Victoria; it is also the southern terminus
of the British Columbia Ferries service to Prince Rupert.
Port Hardy is also served by regularly scheduled air and
bus lines. The community of Winter Harbour is another settlement southwest of the park that offers tourist amenities, RV campsites, fuel and a general store.
Any maps listed are for
information only - they may not represent legal boundaries and should not be
used for navigation.
Nature & Culture:
all vehicles and remove valuables.
care on the access road and watch for logging trucks.
Logging trucks have the right of way; yield to trucks
and use pullouts when possible.
pack out what you pack in.
your bear and wildlife sense; see wildlife safety below.
Keep pets on a leash. Utilize food caches where provided.
water is available at a number of locations but all
water must be boiled for a minimum of 20 minutes or
treated with a chemical water purification kit prior
to human consumption.
Mt. St. Patrick, visitors should be equipped with a
topographical map and compass and be totally self-sufficient.
The route beyond this point receives minimal maintenance.
Park Facility Operator’s residence is situated
at the western end of Nels Bight beach and is staffed
during the summer months. Although the staff is usually
hiking the trails during the day, park visitors should
be able to contact them in the evening in case of emergency.
The Cape Scott Lighthouse is staffed year-round and
could also be contacted in an emergency.
Safety Information (park
safety, hazards, wildlife safety information, health risks)
parks that accept reservations,
all vehicle accessible campsites (with the exception of
group sites) must be reserved through Discover
are not accepted at this park, all campsites are on a first-come,
first-served basis. For parks that accept reservations or
information on the reservation service, click
Parks: Fees, park listings, what
you should know before you go and other useful links.
There are no vehicle-accessible campsites at this
are 11 designated camp pads located at Eric Lake,
available on a first-come, first-served basis. There
is no longer a campsite at Donaldson Farm.
wilderness camping is also allowed in this park,
though no facilities other than food caches (at
Guise Bay, Nels Bight, San Josef, Nissen Bight and
Eric Lake) and pit toilets are provided. Please
camp on the beach whenever possible. A backcountry
fee for overnight camping is in place from May to
September. Self-registration vaults are located
at the San Josef River boat launch and trailhead.
If you should choose to erect a temporary shelter
from the elements, please dismantle it entirely
when you are through with it and return the site
to its natural state so that others may enjoy the
surroundings as you have.
Please practice Leave
No Trace camping ethics.
Camping Fee: $5.00 per person / night, for all persons 13 years of age or older
are no group campsites available at this park.
There are no picnic tables at Cape Scott Provincial
Park. San Joseph Bay, accessed by a well-maintained
2.5 km trail, is often used for day-use and camping.
is wheelchair access along the boarded walkway in the park.
The water in Cape Scott Provincial Park is untreated
and must be boiled for a minimum of 20 minutes or
treated with a chemical water purification kit prior
to human consumption. Drinking water is not available
at the Cape Scott Lighthouse.
are 10 pit toilets available throughout the park. There are no flush
toilets at this park.
are no shower facilities at this park.
are no sani-station/dump facilities at this park.
fires are allowed, we encourage visitors to conserve
the environment by minimizing the use of fire and
using stoves instead. Two communal fire rings are
provided at Eric Lake and three at Nels Bight. Campers
are requested to NOT bury their beach campfires.
Several visitors have been burned where fires have
been buried. Please practice Leave
No Trace camping ethics.
||There are no electrical hook-ups in this park.
are no regularly scheduled interpretive programs at
information about hiking trails, click
your own safety and preservation of the park, obey
posted signs and keep to designated trails. Shortcutting,
switchbacking, skirting mud holes and trampling
across meadows and boggy ground destroy the plant
life and soil structure, thus increasing erosion
and deterioration of the trails.
you should choose to erect a temporary shelter from
the elements, please dismantle it entirely when
you are through with it and return the site to its
natural state so that others may enjoy it as you
is no playground at this park.
are no designated swimming areas at Cape Scott Provincial
Park, however the beaches at Nels Bight and San
Josef Bay are popular destinations for swimmers.
Please be aware of sometimes intense surf conditions
and possible riptides. There are NO LIFEGUARDS on
duty at provincial parks.
Canoeing/kayaking is becoming increasingly popular,
particularly in San Josef Bay, where there is a BC
Parks boat launch. More experienced kayakers can make
the trip from Port Hardy and around the Cape, finishing
in Winter Harbour or Coal Harbour. San Josef Bay has
also become a popular spot for surf kayaking, particularly
in the spring and fall when waves are larger.
BC Parks' boat launch is accessed via San Josef Heritage
Park, but it is a BC Parks facility. It is for canoes/kayaks
and small car-toppers only. The San Josef River is
tidal at this spot so don't plan on using the launch
at low tide or you may be hauling over gravel bars.
Fishing is permitted as per provincial and federal
fishing regulations. All anglers should check the current
regulations issued by Fisheries and Oceans Canada prior
to fishing. Anyone fishing or angling in British Columbia
must have anAnyone
fishing or angling in British Columbia must have an
Cycling is not permitted in the park.
Horseback riding is not permitted in the park.
animals must be on a leash and under control all times. You are responsible for
their behaviour and must dispose of their excrement.
Backcountry areas are not
suitable for dogs or other pets due to wildlife issues and the potential for
problems with bears. Pet owners should ensure their dogs
do not enter streams used for drinking water as they can be carriers of Giardia.
Please water your pet well away from drinking water sources.
scenery in this park is incredible no matter where you are. The view from
the top of Mt. St. Patrick offers spectacular panoramic views of San Josef
Bay and down into Sea Otter Cove and the unspoiled wilderness of Cape Scott
park is open year-round. The camping rules noted above apply, however
there is no winter camping fee.
SCUBA diving or snorkelling opportunities.
Portions of the park are open to hunting for specific
species. Please refer to the current annual Hunting
and Trapping Regulations Synopsis for closures and
regulations. All hunters must have valid licences
and tags. For more information visit: /www.env.gov.bc.ca/wld/hunting.htm.
climbing or rock climbing opportunities.
spelunking or caving opportunities.
cabins, yurts or lodges for public use. A rangers cabin is available
for emergency use only (wood stove available). This
cabin is situated at the western end of
Nels Bight beach
during the summer months.