43K Wilderness Solutions
Click here to view a Cape Scott Provincial Park Transportation Provider, for additional information on transportation options to the park.
Cape Scott Provincial Park
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.
- 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.
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
AccessLogging 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 SafetyVisitors 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 noticesSchool 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 ParkCape 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.
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 LighthouseThe 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 InformationEven 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:
Location and MapsPlease note: Any maps listed are for information only – they may not represent legal boundaries and should not be used for navigation.
Cape Scott is a hike-in park, located at the northwestern tip of Vancouver Island. The only parking lot within the park, located near the southeast corner, provides easy access to the Cape Scott and San Josef Bay Trailhead. 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 BrochuresAny maps listed are for information only – they may not represent legal boundaries and should not be used for navigation.
Management PlanningManagement Planning Information
Activities Available at this Park
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.
Facilities Available at this Park
Pit or Flush Toilets
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.
WOLF ADVISORY: NO DOGS ALLOWED IN CAPE SCOTT PARK
Cape Scott Park is open year round (check website for updates on trail conditions in case areas are closed for safety reasons), however fees are only collected from May 1 to September 30 when backcountry services are provided. Self-registration vaults are located at the San Josef River boat launch and trailhead or you can use the Backcountry Registration System.