Great Scott!

The windswept northern tip of Vancouver Island is home to Cape Scott Provincial Park

The windswept northern tip of Vancouver Island is home to Cape Scott Provincial Park.

Still relatively undiscovered, the park’s sweeping tidal flats, forested trails and ocean-slammed headlands are showing up on the radar of an international backpacking community.

All members of the family will enjoy the 90-minute return trip to San Josef Bay’s sandy beach on a well-groomed, wheelchair accessible path from the trailhead parking lot. Or for the ultimate in backcountry adventure, try the original Cape Scott Trail and, more daunting still, the North Coast Trail. The latter is a particularly challenging route for experienced hikers only that traverses steep headlands, muddy swamps and cavernous gorges with the aid of fixed ropes, boardwalks and cable cars. The two trails add up to a 54km one-way trip that requires a minimum of five days.

Access the North Coast Trail through the Cape Scott trailhead by driving via Holberg on the gravel logging road or arrange a shuttle from Port Hardy. Water access to the other end of the trail, Shushartie Bay, is also available via Port Hardy by water taxi.

Many backpackers who want a taste of the region without the longer treks embark from the Cape Scott trailhead to Nissen Bight, Nels Bight and Guise Bay, all within a day’s hike. Those who head to Cape Scott itself are invited to sign the guest book at the lighthouse. Expect to see some abandoned buildings and other trace evidence of the late 19th century Danish settlers who tried to make this beautiful area their new home in the new world.

Come prepared! The weather is highly changeable, and layered clothing topped by sturdy rain gear is essential.

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