Cape Scott Trail (Vancouver Island, Canada)

Cape Scott Trail

DISTANCE (round-trip)

43 km (27 mi)

DIFFICULTY

TIME

3-4 days

ALTERNATIVE TO

West Coast Trail

SOLITUDE

Wild, rugged and wet as hell

It’s wild. It's technical. And it's a helluva lot tougher than the West Coast Trail. This route gets just a fraction of the attention lavished on the WCT but has terrain that’s just as awesome.

The trail winds through mammoth old-growth forests, untouched beaches and wind-swept meadows brimming with diverse plants and birds.  Sea caves and tidal pools? Yeah, you'll find those too.

The North Coast Trail stretches 43 kilometres (27 miles) along the northern tip of Vancouver Island starting at Shushartie Bay, which requires a 60-minute water taxi to get there. It eventually joins up with the old Cape Scott Trail and continues on for another 15 kilometres – that’s 58.5 kilometres of killer trekking in total. It takes about six days to tackle this trail, depending on the weather.

Expect rain, especially if you’re not hiking between June and August.

When to go

Late May and early June, when the trail is starting to dry up but the crowds are still scarce. Late September and early October aren't bad as well.

Getting there

The Cape Scott Trail is located about 65 kilometres west of Port Hardy on the northwest tip of Vancouver Island, Canada. To arrive at the trailhead, hikers must first drive along 67 kilometres of tire-killing logging roads. 

A few kilometres south of Port Hardy, turn onto Holberg Road and watch for signs for the Cape Scott Provincial Park. You'll pass through Holberg, a tiny village that offers some supplies. 

Know before you go

  • This trail is crazy-wet. All year. Be prepared with gaiters and decent rain gear.

  • Spend an extra day to hike up to the lighthouse

  • There's an old cabin to stay in, but it's often full. Camp 10 km north instead.

One of the artifacts found around Cape Scott.

Fallen trees create obstacles along the Cape Scott Trail, especially after storm season.

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About the author

Dustin Walker

Dustin Walker is a journalist, travel copywriter and editor/owner of Slick and Twisted Trails. Follow him on Twitter @dustinjaywalker


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