Winter Harbor is located on the northwest tip of Vancouver Island. The small community is in Forward Inlet and is close to Quatsino Narrows. Winter Harbor is reached by driving along a scenic logging road from Port Hardy.
Winter Harbor got its name from the merchant sailing ships of the 1700s. During the winter months, the cove was used for protection from the storms. Winter Harbor is still very active along its waterfront. The commercial fleet still puts it to good use, and it’s a destination for tourism and a put-in for small boats, kayaks, and a port for sailboats during the summer months.
There is a waterfront trail and boardwalk that is easy to walk, it’s a great place to view wildlife including many types of birds and marine life. You can also walk along the Botel Park Trail. This trail explores the area from the sea to old-growth forests and will give you awesome views of Hunt Islet and Matthews Island.
Kayaking, hiking, and fishing are the most popular activities in the area. You can head out on the trails that go to San Joseph Bay and Cape Scott Provincial Park including the North Coast Trail. This part of Vancouver Island is absolutely beautiful, the sea stacks at San Joseph Bay will amaze you and the rugged scenery of Cape Scott will take your breath away.
Among the many attractions in this tiny harbor community is the ocean side boardwalk that was at one time the only road and is still maintained today, it’s a great way to see the harbor, keep your eyes open as you walk along, you can see a variety of birds such as eagles, puffins, ducks, oystercatchers, gulls, herons, murres, murrelets, and other sea life, this is a very pleasant walkway.
In Winter Harbor there are some basic amenities available to visitors, some accommodations, campgrounds, a general store, boat supplies, and a liquor store are available. There are bigger stores close by in Port Hardy to pick up your hiking supplies.
From Campbell River, you travel Hwy 19 for 238 km until you reach the turnoff for Winter Harbor. Watch for the signs just before reaching Port Hardy, you turn left to reach Winter Harbor. It’s another 60 km further along this road to reach Winter Harbor.