Fire Restrictions in Effect for this Park
Activites and Facilities Available in this Park - Click icon to view
Activities Available at this Park
Facilities Available at this Park
Park Contact

Strategic Forest Management Inc.
Website: www.capescottpark.com
Phone: 250-956-2260

Click here to view a Cape Scott Provincial Park Transportation Provider, for additional information on transportation options to the park.

Cape Scott Provincial Park

Please note, as of November 20, 2014:
Due to recent storm events and high water levels, the North Coast Trail section (Nissen Bight to Shushartie Bay) of the park is closed as the cable car crossings on the Strandby and Nahwitti Rivers are inoperable.

Please check back for updated information as assessments and repairs are completed. The trails in the western end of the Park (San Josef Bay, Eric Lake, Nels Bight, Nissen Bight, and Guise Bay areas) remain open. All campers and hikers must be prepared for extremely cold and wet conditions.

UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE – WOLF ADVISORY: CAPE SCOTT PARK – NO DOGS ALLOWED IN CAPE SCOTT PARK
No Pets
There have been recent confrontations between wolves and domestic dogs in this park. Pets are not allowed in the park at this time to prevent further habituation (= loss of fear) of the wolves and wildlife conflicts.

Wolves have frequently been sighted in the areas of: Hanson Lagoon, Nels Bight and Nissen Bight, Laura Creek, and around the Strandby River. BC Parks is warning visitors that dogs are not allowed in the park and is encouraging hikers and campers to take the following necessary precautions to avoid wolf encounters:

Avoiding Encounters with Wolves
  • Do not bring pets into the park.
  • Keep a clean and orderly camp. Cook and store food away from sleeping areas. Suspend food, toiletries, garbage and other loose objects on a rope between trees, in secured kayak hatches, or in provided food caches, out of reach of wildlife.
  • Do not bury garbage. If you pack it in – pack it out!
  • Wash dishes in a container and dispose of grey water at sea, away from your camping area.
It is extremely important to discourage wolves from approaching. Remember, you are a guest in this environment. This is home to the animals that live here. If a wolf appears and acts unafraid or aggressive, take the following action as soon as you notice the animal:
  • Raise your arms and wave them in the air to make yourself appear larger.
  • When in a group, act in unison to send a clear message to the wolves they are not welcome.
  • Back away slowly, do not turn your back on the wolf.
  • Make noise, throw sticks, rocks and sand at the wolf.
  • Use pepper spray if you have it and know how to safely use it.
The wolf needs to know that you may be a threat to them.

Please report wolf sighting to BC Parks and Park Facility Operator staff; and report any wildlife – human interactions where public safety is at risk by dialling 24 hour hotline 1-877-952-7277.

Know Before You Go

Access

Logging trucks are present on the gravel access road from Port Hardy to the Cape Scott Trail Head. Drive with caution and lights on at all times. Always yield to logging trucks and be mindful of pull outs. It is best to pull to the side of the road and let trucks pass.

Wildlife Safety

Visitors should be prepared to encounter bears and wolves throughout Cape Scott.

Read the bear safety guidelines and the wolf safety guidelines.
  • Ensure your vehicle is locked and windows are closed. Food and other attractants must be secured in the trunk of the vehicle. Bears have broken into vehicles parked in the Cape Scott Provincial Park.
  • During low tide, bears frequent the shoreline turning over rocks in search of food on the North Coast Trail, Nahwitti River area. Camp only within the developed campsite area, avoid camping along in close proximity to shoreline areas.

Hiking and camping notices

School hiking groups please register here

Read the detailed hiking and trail information
  • All campers and hikers should be prepared for extremely cold and wet conditions year round.
  • 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.
  • Water sources are very limited. Carry an adequate supply of drinking water or be prepared to boil or treat water.
  • Please pack out what you pack in and use “No Trace” ethics while visiting the park.

About This Park

Cape Scott Provincial Park Cape Scott Provincial Park is a truly magnificent area of rugged coastal wilderness that is located at the northwestern tip of Vancouver Island, 563 kilometres from Victoria.

Established in 1973 and named after the site of a lighthouse that has guided mariners since 1960, Cape Scott is characterized by more than 115 kilometres of scenic ocean frontage, including about 30 kilometres of spectacular remote beaches.

The 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 impressive of these beaches, Nels Bight, stretches more than 2,400 metres long and 210 metres wide at low tide, and is one of the Park’s most popular camping destinations. Other significant beaches include San Josef Bay, Guise Bay, Experiment Bight, Lowrie Bay and Nissen Bight.

Visitors can choose between a day hike or a backpacking excursion to explore the sandy beaches, rainforests and lowland bogs and muskeg of this wilderness park. For information about hiking trails, click here.

Special Features:
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 metres 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 metres in circumference. This is a popular spot for hikers to stop and absorb their surroundings, as well as take photographs.

Park Size: 22,294 hectares

Cape Scott Lighthouse

The 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 property.

Tourist Facilities and Information

Even 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. Some links that may be helpful:
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Location and Maps

Please note: Any maps listed are for information only – they may not represent legal boundaries and should not be used for navigation. National 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 Columbia.

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 kilometres 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.

Click here to view The North Coast Trail Shuttle’s webpage, for additional information on transportation options to the park.

Maps and Brochures

Any maps listed are for information only – they may not represent legal boundaries and should not be used for navigation.
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Management Planning

Management Planning Information
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Activities Available at this Park

Canoeing

Canoeing

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.
Fishing

Fishing

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 an appropriate licence.
Hiking

Hiking

Get detailed hiking trail information and descriptions.

For 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.
Hunting

Hunting

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.
Swimming

Swimming

There 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.
Wildlife Viewing

Wildlife Viewing

The 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.
Winter Recreation

Winter Recreation

This park is open year-round. The camping rules noted above apply, however there is no winter camping fee.
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Facilities Available at this Park

Boat Launch

Boat Launch

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.
Campfires

Campfires

While 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.
Pit or Flush Toilets

Pit or Flush Toilets

There are 10 pit toilets available throughout the park. There are no flush toilets at this park.
Walk-In/Wilderness Camping

Walk-In/Wilderness Camping

There 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.

Random 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. 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.

A backcountry fee for overnight camping may be in place year round. Self-registration vaults are located at the San Josef River boat launch and trailhead.
No Pets
Fees in Cape Scott will be collected from May 1 through September 30.

WOLF ADVISORY: NO DOGS ALLOWED IN CAPE SCOTT PARK

Backcountry Camping Fee: $10.00 per person / night (persons 16 years of age and older)
Backcountry Camping Fee: $5.00 per child / night (persons 6 - 15 years of age)
BC Parks Backcountry Registration System allows you to purchase a backcountry camping permit before leaving home. Although the system does not reserve a campsite, the system provides visitors the convenience of prepaying for their trip and not having to carry cash. We encourage all visitors to register online so we can reduce the need to collect fees in the field.

Backcountry Registration System
Wheelchair Access

Wheelchair Access

The trail to San Josef Bay has been re-surfaced with crushed material, and an existing section of boardwalk has been extended. The trail is now accessible for high clearance “BOB” style strollers and assisted wheel chairs as it is a rough gravel backcountry trail with some slopes that are steeper then the optimal grades for special needs access.