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“At the end of the road at San Josef Bay and beach”

Cape Scott Provincial Park
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Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: More than 3 hours
Owner description: Cape 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. Cape Scott is characterized by more than 115 kilometres of scenic ocean frontage, including about 30 kilometres of spectacular remote beaches. The rugged North Coast Trail is a challenging and popular 43.1 km hiking track that connects many pristine beaches by stretches of tough overland passage. 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.
Reviewed July 23, 2013

I drove the 1.5 hour road from Port Hardy area, to the end of the road with Pat P., who submitted the previous review of mostly the San Josef Heritage Park, and the road to get there. I just wanted to add to her accurate review.

The Heritage Park adjoins the Cape Scott Park. If one wants to launch their kayak or other small boat, one drives into and through the Heritage Park, into the tight woods on a short bumpy, possibly muddy road to get to the river. The river level is affected by the tides, and differs accordingly. It is a fairly small river, with lots of vegetation. Recommendation is to park in Heritage Park where there is plenty of room, and the owner, Doug will watch over the car. I have no idea if there is much vandalism history at the Cape Scott Park, parking lot...but peace of mind for a minimal fee would be worth it to me. Just meeting Doug, the owner for 25 years is worth it alone! A nice guy living quite remotely.

The other thing I really enjoyed was the 45 minute walk from the parking lot to San Josef Bay. A easy, wide trail with bridges, and is considered wheelchair approved (we saw wheelchair tracks in the beach sand to prove some had been there). I made a point of looking around and up to see the wonderful trees along the walk. I was amazed seeing old trees which in earlier life, began on a "nurse log", but were no longer there, leaving the large trees propped up on amazing roots. The beach is a very wide, shallow sandy beach to stroll on. I immediately thought how nice this would be to camp on in sunny warm weather like we had. We didn't walk to the caves and places in the cliffs further down the beach (1/2 mile or so?).

I would have loved to talk more with Doug about his creating his park. I found it lovely with lots of cut grass, woods, and some huge trunk remnants in the woods, and a nice stream flowing through. He threw fish feed into the stream outside his house, and we watched the horde of fish taking it in. Also loved the talking Ravens.

Just remember to bring water. The stream might be ok, or use a filter to be sure, but there is no development anywhere along the stream, and the appearance was fine.

The telephone number I listed is the owner, Doug. His listed mail address is Box 38, Holberg, BC VON 1Z0.

25  Thank Larry J
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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"logging trucks"
in 5 reviews
"sea stacks"
in 5 reviews
"day hike"
in 3 reviews
"coast trail"
in 3 reviews
"provincial park"
in 7 reviews
"water source"
in 2 reviews
"great hike"
in 3 reviews
"camping gear"
in 2 reviews
"bear proof"
in 2 reviews
"low tide"
in 4 reviews
"wild animals"
in 2 reviews
"an easy walk"
in 2 reviews
"cache"
in 3 reviews
"filter"
in 4 reviews
"firewood"
in 5 reviews
"josef"
in 18 reviews
"bight"
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Reviewed July 19, 2013

If you brave the dusty, wash-boardy, gravel road from Port Hardy to Cape Scott Provincial Park, you’ll want a place to camp , because you probably don’t want to do that road twice in one day. Pickings are VERY slim, and information hard to come by, but there’s hope: Doug. Doug’s place is called “Heritage RV Park,” but get any notion of hook-ups out of your mind. There are no-hook-ups, in fact there is no electricity and no water, period (except for the creek). There is another campground up there, but it’s not maintained (moss growing on tables), and there’s no water there, either. 25 or so years ago, the area was clear-cut. Since then, Doug has created a little park--grassy swaths through the woods with little camping alcoves carved out. Most have tables and fire pits, and they all have mosquitoes (but this is north Vancouver Island, you do have bug dope, right?), but there are also birds (especially the ravens!), and you’re minutes from the Cape Scott main parking lot where the trails take off (or Doug will let you park your rig at his place where he’ll keep his eye on it). I don’t want to create false expectations--this is no provincial park campground with showers and hosts coming by to sell wood, but for the same price as a BC park, it is a little oasis at the end of a really long road, and wood’s available for “a donation.” Doug’s an eccentric guy who lives a pioneer life in the 21st century, and we wish we’d had more time to talk to him, but the weather was great and the walk to San Josef too tempting. If you’re a Vancouver Island car camper looking for something literally off the beaten track, head for Doug’s and tell him Hi from us in the US. Oh, and bring your own water!

PS: More about the road. Port Hardy to Holberg, takes an hour, and the first part is actually worse than the last part. Take advantage of the Scarlet Ibis Pub in Holberg where you can wash out the dust with a pint. Holberg to Cape Scott is just under half an hour, and actually not as bad as we’d been warned. We drive a Chevy van, so we ride more like a truck--a sedan might be a smoother ride. The biggest problem was the logging trucks, but we got good advice from a local: keep track of pull-offs, so you’ll know how far to back up and which side of the road you need to retreat to. The truckers know there will be tourists on the road, but they have the right of way, and they move fast.

20  Thank Pat P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 14, 2013

I'm sure it would have been lovely but as our car didn't make it I don't know. This park (and raft cove) are for the brave only. 60km of logging roads that turn into slidy muddy messes in the winter. Recommend for those with awd or 4wd (preferably higher clearance). And be safe on the road - logging trucks have right of way and can suprise you!!

All my friends say its worth the drive.

2  Thank Spudyagain
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 4, 2012

I just completed my fifth hike to Nels Bight. The trail is fairly flat with several muddy section but lots of boardwalk too (careful - some is quite slippery). Good footwear is a must to ensure an enjoyable hike. There are signs along the 17km trail that provide information about the park and the previous settlement attempts by the Danes.

Nels Bight is a big, beautiful, sandy beach that stretches about a kilometre. There are humpback whales feeding in the bay all summer and early fall. Totally breath-taking and worth the 5-7 hour hike in.

Many also do a day hike from this beach to explore Guise Bay, Experiment Bight, and the lighthouse at Cape Scott.

Do be prepared for the elements and check the weather. The park rangers Dave and Cathy were very helpful too, loaning us a few tarps that are stored behind the ranger station.

8  Thank RedSnapper40
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed August 13, 2018 via mobile
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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