Cape Scott 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.
Cape Scott 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.
Cape Scott Lighthouse
The lighthouse and the cape are outside the park boundary and are private property belonging to the Department of National Defence. The old trail and foghorn were built during World War Two 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: