North Coast Trail

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The North Coast Trail is the last, most northerly section of the Vancouver Island Trail that connects Shushartie Bay with Cape Scott.


The following text is taken from the BC Parks website –  This website  provides more detail on the Trail and trail conditions.

“The North Coast Trail is a 43.1 km extension to the original Cape Scott trail. The total hiking distance is approximately 59.5 km. The minimum recommended one way hiking time is 5 days; although, it is more commonly completed in 6 to 8 days. Hiking times are estimated for the average hiker in good physical condition in optimal weather conditions.

This is a very challenging route and is not recommended for inexperienced hikers. Many sections require hikers to climb over or along fallen trees, to cross through deep mud, and to use fixed ropes to climb up and over steep sections. It is not recommended for those with a fear of heights. 

The trail is located in a wilderness area with minimal supplies or equipment of any kind. It is not regularly patrolled, so hikers should be completely self sufficient.  It is strongly recommended that all hikers carry a satellite phone or VHF radio in case of emergency. Cell phones do not work in the park, and assistance may be days away in case of an accident.

The trail runs along the northern coast of Vancouver Island spanning Cape Scott Provincial Park. It can be traversed east to west from Shushartie Bay to the eastern end of Nissen Bight or in reverse from west to east. The trail becomes progressively easier eastwards. Access to the Shushartie Bay trail-head is by boat or float plane only. There are currently no docking facilities. One water taxi service runs from Port Hardy during the summer season (An alternative is to hike via logging roads from Port Hardy – see  the Port Hardy to North Coast Trail description). Access to the western portion of the trail is from the San Josef parking lot at the Cape Scott trailhead. Shuttle service to this parking lot can also be arranged in Port Hardy.

The trail offers visitors a glimpse into wild, west coast ecosystems. The rugged trail passes through old and second growth Sitka spruce, hemlock and cedar forests, upland bogs, riparian areas, across sand, gravel and cobble beaches, and past sea stacks, rocky headlands, and tidal pools. The park is home to bald eagles, black bears, cougars, wolves, river and sea otters, mink, and an array of marine mammals. Cape Scott Provincial Park is rich with First Nations history. Many signs of their historic presence are evident in the park. Please respect all cultural sites and leave them in an undisturbed state. Do not touch or remove any cultural items.”

For information about and reservations for the water taxi service (best to reserve ahead if at all possible!) –

For information about the shuttle service from the Cape Scott trailhead via Holberg back to Port Hardy –

Here is a GPS file in gpx format:    Download

Total distance: 55627 m
Max elevation: 222 m
Min elevation: -95 m
Total climbing: 2518 m
Total descent: -2460 m