Date: Aug 17 – 23, 2017*
* Date corresponds to high tide conditions necessary for landing vessel at Sutil (see itinerary)
We have been doing water based alumni trips for a few years. I thought it time to offer a backpacking adventure for a change – not too difficult but many great rewards. The beaches of Cape Scott are memorable – white, sandy. The human history – inspiring, interesting. The natural location – tip of northern Vancouver Island. The marine and land-based wildlife – always promising.
Cape Scott was named in 1786 in honour of David Scott, a merchant who was one of the principal backers of a trading voyage to this area.
From 1897 to 1907, Danish pioneers from Minnesota, Nebraska, Iowa and North Dakota attempted to settle in the area around Hansen Lagoon, but were unable to survive without a direct supply and trade route. After several years of hardship – sparked by annual rainfall that often reaches 500 centimeters and frequent severe storms – the Danes had their dreams dashed. Forced by the harshness of nature and other conditions beyond their control, they finally gave up their struggles and left.
By 1913 another wave of settlers had arrived from Washington State, Eastern Canada and Europe, establishing themselves in the homes vacated by the Danes six years earlier. In 1917, facing the same hardships as the Danes and battling violent winds and rainstorms, the new settlers also deserted the area.
Requirements of national security during the Second World War led to the construction of a small radar station at Cape Scott in 1942, which remained in operation until 1945.
This is coastal hike with the terrain switching between temperate rain forest (trail with some muddy sections, boardwalks, ladders, log and bridge crossings) and beach (gravel, rock, hard and loose sand).
Level of Difficulty
The trip is open to people of all abilities and can be classified as mostly easy/moderate with some challenging sections; however, it does require physical endurance and psychological stamina.
Temperatures in the summer can range from 20 C in the evening to 30 C during the day. Expect a variety of weather patterns, from hot, calm, summer days to rain, wind, and cold. As it is a coastal hike, rain is always a possibility and it can last for days. Hikers should arrive with this expectation and have appropriate wear.
Maximum group size is 12 – minimum needed is 10.
Cost: Per person $1100 – no taxes apply.
Includes: Charter boat Port Hardy – Sutil, Van from Cape Scott trailhead to Port Hardy, park fees, kitchen equipment (pots, utensils, stoves, fuel, water filter), bear spray, camp cover, lunches and dinners, beverages.
Excludes: Travel to/from Vancouver, bus travel Vancouver/Port Hardy, air travel Vancouver/Port Hardy, trail snacks, breakfasts, accommodation Vancouver, Port Hardy, rental fees for tent, backpack, sleeping bag, sleeping pad.
Bus Vancouver to Port Hardy, and return, provided by Tofino Bus Lines.
Air to Port Hardy provided by Pacific Coastal
This is a camping trip. You are welcome to bring your own tent. Bathroom facilities will range from outhouses to wilderness sanitation practices.
The food we bring is plentiful, nutritious, and primarily vegetarian (because this keeps better than meat). You can expect meals to be varied, and delicious. Beverages include herbal and regular tea, coffee, hot chocolate. If you have special dietary restrictions or preferences you will have to see to them.
Equipment and Clothing
Will supply you with a list of outdoor clothing and articles you will need.
We will be traveling from east to west, beginning at Cape Sutil. Disregard section from Shushartie to Sutil. Also, hiking distances will be available in the itinerary that follows maps.
North Coast Trail is the new crowning jewel coastal hike in BC. Traveling through ancient, coastal, temperate rain forest and on sand and cobblestone beaches, enjoy this new, rugged addition to the glorious Cape Scott Provincial Park at the northwestern tip of Vancouver Island.
The North Coast Trail hike is a scenic tour through a number of coastal ecosystems. Dominated by hemlock, cedar, and sitka spruce, the trail passes through large stands of each tree species. The upland trail areas travel through coastal marsh and bog ecosystems full of small, but intricately beautiful plant species. At the shore, the trail winds through and around many pocket beaches adorned with sea stacks and caves, watched over by eagles from their aeries.
Cape Scott Trail is full of its own hiking trails leading to a number of incredible historical and geographical features. There is time on this trip to explore the beauty of Cape Scott Park, with side trips to Nels Bight, Hansen Lagoon, and Guise Bay.
Just outside the park, past Guise Bay, is the Cape Scott light station, one of the few remaining attended lighthouses in Canada. The history of this area is fascinating, and the views are unbeatable. Come see for yourself!
Day 0– Travel to Port Hardy via bus, air, or car. The first night will be spent in Port Hardy. Meeting to distribute food and equipment.
Day 1– The group will be transported by water taxi to Cape Sutil – camp there. Conditions will determine options.
Day 2-Cape Sutil to Shuttleworth Bight: Distance 7.8 km
The route (most challenging of hike) continues round the very northern tip of Vancouver Island, initially along the beach then leading inland and across clifftops on a side hill before breaking out onto the beach again. The views and scenery are stunning! The camp site at Shuttleworth Bight is reached just after crossing Irony Creek.
Day 3-Shuttleworth Bight to Laura Creek: Distance 11.8 km
This day’s hike begins westward along the beach to the cable crossing at Strandby River. Some boggy forest hiking followed by pebble beach and some easily negotiated tidal obstacles. Much of the trail is along the various pocket beaches before reaching the campsite at Laura Creek, where the marine life in the tidal in vibrantly colouful.
Day 4-Laura Creek to Nissen Bight: Distance 7.5 km
This is the last leg of the ‘Nahwitti’ trail and begins with an up hill climb over Nahwitti Cone. It joins the old pioneer road which climbs up through a boggy forest to a plateau. Eventually the trail descends and an elaborate staircase leads to the beach at Nissen Bight.
Day 5/6-Nissen Bight to Nels Bight: Distance 6 km
A great place to take a well-earned rest day, explore the magnificent beach, and a one of the easy Cape Scott trails.
Day 7-Nels Bight to Erik Lake: Distance 13 km
It is time to head back to civilization. The hike is along the established Cape Scott trail ending at the Cape Scott trailhead is the easiest section of the trip, however it is 15.4 km and takes 5 – 7 hr to hike. Here the group will be met by a shuttle bus to take us to Port Hardy. We will spend the night here.
Day 8-Eric Lake – Cape Scott Trailhead: Distance 2.5 km
Overnight Port Hardy or head home via air or personal vehicle.
Day 9-Bus to Vancouver.