Isolated on the northwest coast of Vancouver Island, south of Cape Scott Provincial Park, you will discover Raft Cove Provincial Park, a forested spit and wild sandy bay at the mouth of the meandering Macjack River.
A rugged, rough and muddy 45-minute trail from the road cuts through coastal old-growth forest of hemlock, western red cedar and Sitka spruce that blanket the shoreline. The trail is not conducive to a casual stroll down to the beach.
Raft Cove Provincial Park (405 hectares), located just south of San Joseph Bay, is wonderfully scenic, attracting wilderness adventurers on day hikes or backpackers carrying in overnight gear to set up camp on the 1.3-km sandy beach – a great place to really get away from it all. Visitors should dress warmly and bring good rain gear at most times of the year, as Raft Cove is extremely exposed to the Pacific weather systems that have pounded this coastline for thousands of years. Come prepared to wear waterproof clothing on top of your waterproof clothing in an attempt to stay dry.
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Remember that away from the road it’s a wilderness with limited development in the park, but it sure is beautiful country. Camping on the beach in wilderness campsites or amongst the trees on the peninsula is very popular, as is surfing, swimming, fishing, hiking and beach hiking. During low tides, long shore walks over rock and beach can be made north or south of Raft Cove, at the edge of the pounding surf of the mighty Pacific Ocean.
An old trapper’s cabin still stands on the southern bank of the Macjack River, opposite the tip of the wooded peninsula. This is the abandoned home of Willie Hecht, an early Cape Scott pioneer who settled in the area early this century. The best fresh water is available from a stream emptying into the south side of the Macjack River near the old cabin.
Raft Cove offers visitors spectacular views of a rugged west coast beach environment. The park’s exposure and impressive waves make it a great place for storm watching. Visitors may also spot a variety of wildlife in the area, including river otters, black bears, cougars and wolves.
Raft Cove Provincial Park is located on the west coast of North Vancouver Island. Access to the park by road is on Ronning Main, off the Cape Scott road out of Holberg or Port Hardy.
Experienced sea kayakers paddle to Raft Cove down the San Josef River and out to the Pacific Ocean through San Josef Bay. The nearest towns and amenities are at Winter Harbour and Holberg.
The rough and strenuous trail from the parking lot to the beach rules out the possibility of transporting and launching kayaks at Raft Cove – unless you favour a challenge of Herculean proportions.
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