Backcountry Hut : Cape Scott
The pacific winds will blow their freshness to you
and the storms their energy.
Nature’s peace will flow and all your cares and
worries will drop off like autumn leaves.
May you never forget the magic of Cape Scott.
-BC Parks welcome sign at Nels Bight.
Leaving the populated Southern Vancouver Island in the rearview mirror, the remote North Vancouver Island is an escape to the rugged coastal wilderness. At the most northern point on the island, weary travelers restore their soul in the magic of Cape Scott.
Cape Scott Provincial Park provides several hiking trails for day trips and the popular North Coast Trail multi-day trip. The Cape itself is a lighthouse station and can be reached using the hiking trails within the park. A ranger cabin was re-built in 2014 on Nels Bight to house the summer park operator contractors, typically during July and August. Outside of that time, the cabin is free for public use on a first-come, first-served basis.
The cabin is reached using a mostly flat 18km trail to Nels Bight, passing through rainforest, mud, flooded fields, and boardwalks, ending with a dramatic entrance onto the expansive sandy beach called Nels Bight. The cabin has sleeping pads available for use, and a toasty warm wood stove. There is an outdoor table for cooking but users must bring their own stove and cooking and eating utensils. The cabin has a loft sleeping area with space and sleeping mats for up to 10 people. There are many further hiking options from the cabin, the most popular is out to the Cape Scott lighthouse station.
RAD adventure tip: Prepare to share the cabin with an unknown number of other people! Sometimes you will have it all to yourself, other times you may find a large group there!
When to go: Anytime outside of July and August.
Trip rating: B1
Access: This park is remote! Get yourself up island! It is a six hour highway drive from Victoria to Port Hardy, then another 65km on dirt roads to reach the trailhead. 2km South of Port Hardy, take the turn off to Holberg (see coordinates below), soon after the road will turn to gravel. Continue 45.5km to Holberg, passing through town and onto San Josef main – follow the signs for Cape Scott Park. After another 18.5km from Holberg, you will reach the Cape Scott Provincial Park trailhead. The trailhead has a covered picnic area and pit toilets.
Turnoff from the island highway just before Port Hardy onto the Forest Service Road towards Holberg: N50.70390°, W127.49133°
Turnoff in Holberg towards Cape Scott Park: N50.65122°, W128.02395°
Trailhead: N50.68544°, W128.25158°
Cabin: N50.79747°, W128.29537°