Hiking 5+ days

Take these hikes not just as a means of reaching your destination, but to experience the rugged beauty that is revealed with each remarkable step. On Vancouver Island North, one doesn’t so much hike as one goes on an expedition. Not so much a visitor as an explorer. At every turn, there’s opportunity to uncover another hidden passage and reveal long-forgotten treasures. Serving up every type of terrain you can imagine, Vancouver Island North offers rocky shorelines and sandy beaches, mountain passes and cliffside trails with views that plunge into the Pacific.

Travel to Vancouver Island North
Days 01 - 07
Day 08
Additional Activities
Days 01 - 07
This trail is rugged, challenging, and an unbelievably rewarding adventure. It crosses headlands, remote beaches and coastal temperate rainforests within Cape Scott Provincial Park. While the hike can be completed in as little as 4 days, it is recommended that you take 7 days to hike this 58 km trail in order to allow some extra time to truly experience the raw beauty of Vancouver Island’s rugged north coast.
Most people start the North Coast Trail by taking a water taxi from Port Hardy to Shushartie Bay and hike the trail from east to west. Hiking legs to consider:
  • Sushartie Bay to Skinner Creek, 8.1 km, 5 – 7 hours
  • Skinner Creek to Cape Sutil, 5.1 km, 3.5 – 5.5 hours
  • Cape Sutil to Irony Creek, 7.8 km, 4 – 6 hours
  • Irony Creek to Laura Creek, 11.8 km, 4 – 7 hours
  • Laura Creek to Nissen Bight, 7.5 km, 2.5 – 4 hours
  • Nissen Bight to Nels Bight, 6 km, 2.5 – 4 hours; Once you’ve set camp, you can explore the most western regions of the park. Visit the sand neck, Guise Bay, Experiment Bight or even the Cape Scott Lighthouse (7 km from Nels Bight) if you’re feeling up to it at this point in your journey.
  • Nels Bight to the Cape Scott Trailhead, 16.8 km, 5 – 8 hours

This is a true backcountry adventure and is quickly gaining a reputation as one of the best coastal hikes in the world. But be aware, this is no walk in the park: it is not recommended that you tackle the trail without previous backpacking experience.

**Travel on logging road required.

Check out Day 08
Day 08
Whale watching day tour duration ranges from 2 – 5 hours. Daily scheduled departures from Telegraph Cove, Port McNeill, Alder Bay, or Port Hardy.
Members of a population of some 285 fish-eating orcas known as the “Northern Residents” are often in the area in pursuit of salmon. The more stealthy marine mammal-eating population of killer whales known as “Transients” are also often hunting in the area. Humpback whales are back from the brink of extinction and are now spotted with increasing frequency.
Vancouver Island North sightseeing crews operate with respect, ensuring safe, sustainable encounters that serve the whales and the sightseers in equal measure. Captains closely adhere to “Be Whale Wise” guidelines that dictate boats stay at least 100 meters away from any whales. That’s not to say these remarkable mammals won’t make a memorable encounter on their own terms.
Check out Days 01 - 07
Additional Activities
  • If you’re heading west, be sure to stop at the Shoe Tree on the eastern end of Kains Lake, this old cedar snag is covered with hundreds of shoes contributed by visitors
  • It’s all about salmon at the Quatse Salmon Centre in Port Hardy, learn about the important role salmon play in a healthy ecosystem
  • Listen to stories, witness traditional song and dance, and learn how to weave cedar or make drums through an aboriginal cultural experience
  • Learn about biology, habitat needs and threats to local marine mammals at the Whale Interpretive Centre in Telegraph Cove
  • You will be struck immediately by Telegraph Cove’s charm, dig into the roots of this place by touring historic boardwalk
  • Find the perfect Island-inspired gift item to remember your trip by, shop galleries in Port Hardy, Fort Rupert, Port McNeill & Telegraph Cove
Getting here & Getting around

The North Island may feel like a remote destination, but it’s certainly not a challenge to get here. With a fully paved highway leading you North, to daily flights and multiple ferry options, you have your pick of ways to travel! Visit the Getting Here page to learn more.

Waivin’ Flags Taxi & Bus Service
Town Taxi
Pacific Coastal Airlines
National Car and Truck Rentals
Mount Waddington Regional Transit
Drive BC – Provincial Highway Information
Cape Scott Water Taxi
Budget Rent-a-Car
BC Ferries
View On Google Maps
Explore Vancouver Island North
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