Hiking opportunities local to Port Hardy and the surrounding area exist for all skill levels. Hikers can embark on gentle to moderate trips or take on challenging multi-day excursions. For unwavering spirits, challengers of the North Coast Trail are not left disappointed as they trek across windswept terrain and rugged headlands intermittent to stretches of the most secluded, sandy beaches on Northern Vancouver Island. For the more low-key explorers, enjoy a leisurely stroll along the town’s waterfront or an evening walk during low-tide on the beautiful Storey’s Beach.
Quatse Loop & Estuary Trail
Follow along the edge of the Quatse River and estuary, enjoy the natural beauty of the riparian settings while watching for local wildlife. Sights of nesting bald eagles, kingfishers and great blue herons are not uncommon. In the early fall, watch for schools of Pacific salmon at the mouth of estuary or in the river’s pools. Resident black bears also frequent the area. Attracted to the spawning salmon the bears may be seen ascending from the forest and fishing for salmon on the river’s shores!
Port Hardy Seawall
A leisurely walk along the seawall, wind the shore of Hardy Bay and waterfront park areas out to the pier. Posed along the route, interpretive signage features wildlife native to Port Hardy and the surrounding area. Breathtaking sights of neighboring isles and the coastal mountain range are visible from the seawall on a clear day.
Climb up and into the seven hills between Stories Beach and Hardy Bay. Follow in the steps of ancestors along the traditional route of the Kwakiutl Nations, connecting commuters from Beaver Harbour overland to neighbouring Bear Cove. Terrain varies from uneven forest floor and boardwalk to crushed gravel, taking almost two hours round trip. Sights of wildlife and culturally modified trees can bee seen along the way. Trailheads are at either end, beginning at the Bear Cove highway or near Storeys Beach. Pack water, wear appropriate footwear and prepare for a great adventure.
Tex Lyon Trail
The challenging 8-hour round trip trek along the Tex Lyon trail brings hikers through old-growth forest stands down onto the rocky shoreline of Beaver Harbour. The tough trail is difficult with an uneven forest floor, muddy sections, exposed roots, and rope-assisted inclines on multiple occasions, it offers a stunning panoramic view of Queen Charlotte Strait upon arrival at Dillon Point. Pack a day pack with plenty of food and water. Wear appropriate footwear and clothing. Be advised of the presence of wildlife including resident black bears, cougars, and wolves. Pack a cell phone and emergency kit. Tell someone where you are going and expected return time.
Winging through coastal old growth, crossing streams, and opening to a never-ending view of the Pacific, the hike to Raft Cove is rewarding. Uneven, steep, and muddy in sections, the trail takes most 45 minutes to reach the surf. Known for its rolling waves, this beach is a destination for surfers. Be sure to wear proper footwear and pack plenty of food and water for the day. Dogs are not permitted within the park boundaries. Cellular service is unavailable. Bring an emergency kit. Always tell someone where you are going, and your expected return time.
San Josef Bay & Cape Scott
A destination for many west coast day-trippers, the hike out to San Joseph Bay is ideal. Only 2.5 km long, the trail is well-maintained, averaging almost 45 minutes to arrive on the sandy shores of the beach. With its expansive view and seemingly never-ending shoreline, San Joesph Bay offers kilometers of beach to comb and explore. Sea stacks, sea caves, and tidepools await discovery with the low tide. Watch for the blow of whales on the horizon, and signs of other local wildlife including black bears, black-tailed deer, cougars, and even coastal wolves. Overnight camping is permitted.
From coastal rainforest and salt marshes to protected stretches of white sandy beach surrounded by rugged rocky headlands, the trek to Cape Scott brings hikers into the unspoiled depths of the west coast’s natural wilderness. Averaging 6 to 8 hours to complete the approx. 16.8 km hike, the shores of Nels and Nissen Bight offer incomparable beach camping. Day trip to the neighbouring beach of Guise Bay, explore the sand dunes of Experiment Bight, and hike the remaining 6.8km along the heritage road to the Cape Scott Lighthouse. Culturally significant First Nations sites and remnants of a Danish settlement are still present. Please leave sites undisturbed, do not touch, alter or remove items.
North Coast Trail
An extension of the Cape Scott Trail, the North Coast Trail offers the most challenging wilderness trek on Vancouver Island. While this 59.8 km trail accesses the most spectacular, secluded sandy beaches on the North Island it is recommended for only the most experienced hikers and requires careful planning and preparation. Averaging most between 6-8 days to complete, the duration is dependant on trail and weather conditions. Challengers can expect to endure the most difficult hiking between Shushartie Bay and Laura Creek with sections requiring tram-assisted creek crossings, rough and uneven terrain, steep gradients as well as a dense narrow trailhead.
Preparing for Cape Scott Provincial Park & North Coast Trail
- Food caches and pit toilets are available on select sites.
- BC Parks rangers are seasonally present, maintaining the trail and park amenities, and providing emergency services if necessary. The ranger cabin is located on the south end of Nels Bight.
- Sections of the North Coast Trail are tide dependant.
- Pack appropriately, bring ample food and water, prepare for the potential of an extended trip.
- Water sources are seasonal and weather dependant; access to freshwater is limited during drought conditions.
- Prepare for varying weather conditions.
- Bring an emergency kit, emergency services are limited.
- Cellular services are unavailable; pack a satellite phone or VHF radio.
- Be aware of wildlife, store food and scented products accordingly. Use pit toilets and food caches when available.
For more information, please contact the Port Hardy Visitor Information Centre
Sandy toes, tideline treasures and the perfect makings for sandcastles, Stories Beach is a Port Hardy gem. A leisurely stroll or a brisk shoreline walk, the salty air of Storeys Beach will clear the mind and rejuvenate the soul. Just around the corner is Thomas Point and while this beach may be rocky, its shores are one of the best spots in town for an afternoon beach fire. Stay warm, roasting a marshmallow and wait for the sun to set. The colours of evening sky on the distant landscape are perfect for making memories.
Port Hardy is the North Island’s gateway to the beautiful west coast. Raw, rugged and windswept; the west coast of Northern Vancouver Island is becoming well known for its remarkable coastline and stunning beaches. Explore a rocky tideline, discover sea stacks and sea caves, feel the warmth of the sand beneath your feet and trace the sandy shoreline; west coast beaches are where the real adventures begin. Hike to San Joesph Bay, surf the waves at Raft Cove, beachcomb at Cape Palmerston, or camp at Grant Bay; these beaches are the perfect place to lose yourself in nature.
Port Hardy and the surrounding area is rich and deep-rooted with cultural heritage and history intricately tied to the offerings of the landscape and natural environment. Local parks and reserves encompass diverse regions of Northern Vancouver Island’s landscape. From old growth forests, alpine mountain ranges and marine parks to heritage sites marking early historical importance from the first known First Nation culture to the first known European settlements, local parks invite adventure and discover of an area like none other.
Quatse River Regional Park & Campground
Step into nature in the backwoods of Port Hardy at the Quatse River Regional Park. The natural settings of towering old growth and riparian habitat follows the edge of the Quatse River. A perfect experience for wilderness enthusiasts, visitors will find exceptional freshwater fishing, refreshing swimming holes, and leisurely hiking. Able to accommodate both tent and RV’s, over 60 fully serviced campsites are available to nestle into nature. Only minutes from town and the BC Ferries terminal. Shower and laundry facilities are also available. Reservations are recommended.
Marble River Provincial Park
Renowned for some of the best wilderness experiences Northern Vancouver Island has to offer, adventure awaits at Marble River Provincial park. Fish for trout in riffles and rapids, swim in pristine river pools, picnic on the riverside, and kayak between the stunning walls of the Marble River canyon. Tuck into the backwoods of the North Island. Campsites are first come first served and user maintained; pit toilets are available.
By kayak or canoe, paddle the waters of Georgie Lake. Offering up some of the best freshwater fishing on Northern Vancouver Island, Georgie Lake is home to a healthy population of cutthroat and rainbow trout. The Georgie Lake Recreation site features unmaintained backwoods campsites as well as a boat launch access to the lake. The Georgie Lake/Songhees Lake trail also begins here. Campsites available on a first come first served basis.
Raft Cove Provincial Park
Where surf meets sand and sand meets forest. Raft Cove Provincial Park features all the elements of the west coast, perfect for adventure. Combine hiking with surfing, beachcombing and camping. While trail to Raft Cove is considered challenging by some, the hour long hike brings visitors on to one of the most stunning beaches of Northern Vancouver Island.
Cape Scott Provincial Park
Cape Scott Provincial Park, where nature, wildlife, and history collide. Renowned for the myriad of landscapes encompassed within its boundaries, Cape Scott Provincial Park features coastal rainforests, estuarine marshlands, and rugged coastline protecting stretches of stunning sandy beaches. With the lands once shared by the nations of the Tlatlasikwala, Nakumgilisala and Yutlinuk peoples and a later attempt at colonization by Danish settlers, the cultural heritage, and history of Cape Scott is as deep-rooted as many of the trees.
While day-trippers hike to the nearby shores of San Joseph Bay, explore seacaves and seastacks, and relax and unwind on the sand beach, the more adventurous trek on to Cape Scott or embark on the more challenging multi-day hike along the North Coast Trail. Lined by ancient Western red cedars and towering Douglas fir, the trail brings hikers into depths of the wildest, secluded nature on Northern Vancouver Island. Tent pads are available at Eric Lake. Pit toilets and food caches are available at select locations. BC Parks rangers are seasonally on-site to the Cape Scott portion of the park. Water taxi transport is available for those requiring transport to and from Shushartie Bay.
Plan & Prepare for Cape Scott & the North Coast Trail
Situated on the west coast of the North Island, trips out to Cape Scott Provincial Park, Raft Cove, and neighboring west coast destinations require careful planning and preparation.
- Always pack plenty of food, water, and emergency supplies.
- Familiarize with the location of nearby water sources, many sources are seasonally available.
- Bring appropriate clothing and footwear; be prepared for wet weather, even in the summer.
- Monitor the local weather forecast and tides, conditions can change unexpectedly and rapidly.
- Be respectful of wildlife. Use food caches and pit toilets if provided, if food caches are unavailable store at a distance from campsite suspended from a tree.
- Avoid bringing pets into parks. Dogs are not permitted within Cape Scott Provincial Park boundaries.
- Practice responsible hiking etiquette, leave no trace.
- Fuel up your vehicle prior to departing Port Hardy and drive to road conditions; the road from Port Hardy out to the west coast is a gravel logging road.
- Expect industrial traffic, giving them the right of way.
- No cellular services are available outside of Port Hardy, bring a satellite phone if planning an extended trip.
- Always tell someone your adventure plans and when you expect to return.
For more detailed information about Cape Scott and the North Coast Trail, click here to visit BC Parks
Go from surf to snow during your visit to the North Island. The slopes of Mount Cain make for a refreshing winter getaway!
Skiing, snowboarding, or snowshoeing; guaranteed, Mount Cain’s slopes are worth the trip. Combine fresh powder with crisp alpine air and top off with a phenomenal view from the mountain’s peak, a perfect way to start any day! Experience some of Vancouver Island’s best powder, with over 20 runs and backcountry routes, Mount Cain has something for every skill level. The community owned and operated resort offers locals and visitors a great time, pair with some fine dining, a cozy log cabin makes an ideal spot rest up and recharge for another day of powder! For a truly authentic North Island winter experience, don’t miss out on a great day trip from Port Hardy!