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Hesquiat Peninsula Provincial Park
About This Park
Hesquiat Peninsula Provincial Park is situated on the west coast of Vancouver Island and occupies most of the eastern shore of Nootka Sound. This park is a significant tourism corridor for rugged coastal hiking, boating and sea kayaking.
Adjacent to the park is home to the heritage attraction known as Cougar Annie’s Garden. In 1915, the pioneer settler known as Cougar Annie arrived on the west coast in Hesquiat Harbour and homesteaded on this wilderness property. She bore 8 of her 11 children here, outlasted 4 husbands and carved a magnificent, magical garden out of five acres of this thick and foreboding rainforest. This garden is now one of British Columbia’s premier heritage gardens and tours can be arranged at Boat Basin.
This prominent low-elevation peninsula is a significant wilderness area protecting heritage sites, representative old-growth forest stands of Sitka spruce, lodgepole pine, white pine and yellow-cedar and a freshwater lake. The park also encompasses a variety of coastal ecosystems including extensive off-shore reefs, boulder, cobble and sand beaches, sea caves, sheltered bays, kelp beds and mudflats.
This wilderness park has numerous hazards and is in a remote area of the coast. Kayaking and hiking along the shores of the Hesquiat Peninsula is recommended for experienced paddlers and hikers only. This undeveloped wilderness park has no facilities, however backcountry camping is allowed.
Park Size: 7,888 hectares (6,689 ha upland and 1,199 ha foreshore)
Know Before You Go
- Due to the low elevation of the peninsula and off-shore reefs there are navigational hazards for small boats traveling close to shore. Visitors can arrange to be dropped off by boat from Gold River and picked up from Boat Basin at the head of Hesquiat Harbour. This coastal route is along the beaches and over rocks, crossing creeks along the way – there is no trail and hikers must pass through several Indian Reserves along the way.
- Bring your own drinking water as potable water is not available in the park. All surface water in the park must be boiled, filtered or treated prior to consumption.
- This park doesn’t have a boat launch. The nearest boat launch is at the Fourth Street Dock in Tofino.
- There is an outdoor school offering a variety of educational programs for outdoor adventurers.
Guiding in Parks
- In Provincial Parks, any person acting as a guide or offering guiding services, including vessel drop offs, must hold a valid Park Use Permit (Park, Conservancy and Recreation Area Regulation, Section 4). Please ensure the company you hire is legally operating in the park.
- Tsunamis are a series of unusually big waves caused by a large-scale disturbance of a body of water. If you are on the beach and feel strong shaking from an earthquake or if the water suddenly recedes, move immediately to higher ground (greater than 15 metres or 45 feet above the tide line). There is no way to be certain how high a tsunami is going to be. The first wave to arrive at the coast is often not the largest, and each wave may be separated by up to an hour or more. Waves may continue for up to twelve hours, so you must stay on high ground until advised otherwise. Do not go to the beach to watch.
Location and Maps
Maps and Brochures
Nature and Culture
- History: In 1915, the pioneer settler known as Cougar Annie arrived on the west coast in Hesquiat Harbour and homesteaded on this wilderness property. She bore 8 of her 11 children here, outlasted 4 husbands and carved a magnificent, magical garden out of a thick and foreboding rainforest. The remoteness of the area brought inherent risks to Annie and her family; cougars prowled endlessly nearby, sensing easy prey. Ada Annie Rae-Arthur shot and trapped dozens of the animals and thus emerged the legend of Cougar Annie. This garden is now one of British Columbia’s premier heritage gardens. Surrounded by the tall trees of the West Coast rainforest, Cougar Annie’s garden is a place of strange and compelling beauty. From this remote location, Annie ran a nursery garden and shipped countless varieties of plants across Canada. For decades she advertised her wares (and occasionally for husbands) in the Western Producer and in the Winnipeg Free Press. The garden consists of a five-acre clearing, criss-crossed with more than two kilometres of meandering pathways and dotted with outbuildings that once housed goats and chickens. Resurrected from a tangle of salal, Scotch broom, and salmonberry, this garden has endured for nearly 100 years. The survival and the continuity of the garden make it an important heritage site. No other pioneer homestead in Clayoquot Sound remains in private hands and no other garden of this scope exists on the West Coast.
- Cultural Heritage: There are many First Nations cultural heritage sites in Hesquiat Peninsula Park, including middens.
- Conservation: This prominent low-elevation peninsula is a significant wilderness area protecting heritage sites, representative old-growth forest stands of Sitka spruce, lodgepole pine, white pine and yellow-cedar and a freshwater lake. The park also encompasses a variety of coastal ecosystems including extensive off-shore reefs, boulder, cobble and sand beaches, sea caves, sheltered bays, kelp beds and mudflats.
Activities Available at this Park
Rockfish Conservation Areas occur within this park. Fishing activities are limited in Rockfish Conservation Areas. Before you go fishing please refer to the Rockfish Conservation Area descriptions available from Fisheries and Oceans Canada DFO.