Cape Scott Provincial Park is a provincial park at the cape of the same name. It was established in 1973 with about 15,100 ha (37,200 acres), but had been expanded to approximately 22,294 ha (55,090 acres).
Lanz and Cox Islands Provincial Park, formerly Scott Islands Marine Provincial Park, is offshore, to the northwest of Cape Scott.
The Kwakwaka'wakw First Nations created trails through the area that includes the park, using these trails for trade, to harvest resources, and to visit locations that were considered sacred. Three First Nations reserves are within the park, including the former village of Nahwitti.
In 1786, the area was named "Cape Scott" in honour of David Scott, a merchant of Mumbai (Bombay), who had backed James Strange's maritime fur trade voyage to the Pacific Northwest Coast.
From 1897 until 1910, Danish settlers tried to establish a fishing community near San Josef Bay. Due to the harsh climate and lack of government support, the community failed and most settlers left the area. Following that, another attempt was made at Hansen Lagoon, similarly failing by 1917. Alfred Spencer, the last resident, left in 1956.
Some artifacts can still be seen in the park, including a three-metre-tall granite tombstone, several corduroy roads, many ruins (that look like anonymous mossy mounds), and rusty farming implements.
The former settlement of Cape Scott is at 50°47′00″N 128°20′00″W at the head of Hansen Lagoon. Another related settlement in the area is Strandby, named after a coastal village in Denmark and located facing Shuttleworth Bight at 50°50′15″N 128°08′20″W.
The park is known for its old growth forest and sandy beaches. The terrain is rugged, and the area is known for its heavy rain and violent storms.
The park's highest point is Mt. St. Patrick, 422 metres (1,385 ft) above sea level. The park's largest lake is Eric Lake, at 44 hectares (110 acres).
Most of the park is in the Nahwitti Lowland, a subunit of the Hecate Depression, part of the Coastal Trough.
Flora and fauna
From Port Hardy, go south on Highway 19 to Holberg Road, a logging road. Follow it to NE 60 Road. Follow that road into the village of Holberg, and turn on to Green Acres Trailer Ct. Turn right onto Be 60 Road and take that out of the village. When it ends, turn right on to San Josef Main. Take that road until you meet Cape Scott Road greeting off to your left. That road leads to the southern end of the park. You will want a good road map before setting off from Port Hardy, and to confirm road conditions.
The rest of the park is accessible only by foot, helicopter, or boat.
Upgrades and replacements of several bridges and crossing structures on the access road to the Cape Scott Parking lot (San Josef Main FSR) is planned during the summer of 2018. The road will be closed for bridge construction (with no access to or from the parking lot) during the following periods:
- Monday, June 18 – Thursday, June 21, 2018
- Monday, June 25 – Thursday, June 28, 2018
- Tuesday, Sept 4 – Friday, Sept 7, 2018
- Tuesday, Sept 11 – Friday, Sept 14, 2018
Fees and permits
Cape Scott Provincial Park is home to sea stacks, which visitors can access at low tide.
The eastern portion of the park has a number of estuaries that are accessible only by boat.
Cape Scott has some excellent examples of old-growth forest, including Sitka Spruce over 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.
- The park is a popular destination for backpackers during the less rainy summer season. A popular backpacking trip is to hike the 16.8-km Cape Scott Trail to Nels Bight, which typically requires 4–7 hours each way and is rated as easy/moderate in difficulty. It is mostly flat, but is often very muddy. Much of the trail consists of wooden boardwalk.
- The 43.1-km North Coast Trail, which opened in 2008, is an extension of the Cape Scott Trail. It has some very difficult sections in the east, and more moderate terrain in the west.
There are several campsites with pit toilets, metal food caches, and wooden tent platforms along the original Cape Scott trail and the North Coast Trail. For day hikers looking for a shorter trail (less than an hour each way), there is a path out to the beach at San Josef Bay.
Camping season is May to September.
- Backcountry Camping Fee: $10 per person/night (16 years of age and older), and $5 per child/night (6 - 15 years of age)
BC Parks Backcountry Registration System allows you to purchase a backcountry camping permit before leaving home.
BC Parks has received ongoing reports of high wolf activity in some areas of Cape Scott Park. Dogs are permitted in San Josef Bay area only and must be leashed at all times. Dogs are prohibited in all other areas of the park, including the North Coast Trail.
All visitors and hikers in Cape Scott must be extremely mindful about how they recreate in coastal wolf habitat to help prevent wolves from becoming habituated to humans and conditioned to attractants:
- Securely store your food and cooking equipment during the day and night in food caches provided at all designated camping locations.
- Avoid camping or recreating in locations where a carcass (i.e. sea lion or seal) has washed ashore.
- Keep your distance
- Never approach wolves and scare them away immediately if they approach you.
- Keep children close to you at all times and leave your pets at home.
If you encounter an aggressive wild animal, report it by calling the Conservation Officer Service 24-hour hotline toll free at +1-877-952-7277 (RAPP) or #7277 on the Telus Mobility Network.