The northern half of Vancouver Island is rich with natural caves and limestone features. In fact there are over 1000 known caves, with speculation of just as many waiting to be discovered. Little Huson Caves, located within the Regional District of Mount Waddington, offers us a small, yet spectacular, taste of the karst topography found on the island.
The great thing about Little Huson Caves is it offers caving opportunities without having to go underground, unless you want to. This regional park contains 15 known caves, however it was developed mainly because of the limestone rock formations unique to Vancouver Island.
The park is centred around Atluck Creek Canyon, which is an area of breathtaking natural beauty. There are a number of amazing karst features to view and explore.
Entrance to the Vanishing River Cave
Highlights of Little Huson Caves
The Vanishing River Cave has a large cathedral entrance that welcomes exploration. Inside this cave the creek flows underground for 60 meters. It is thought that the Atluck Creek Canyon itself was formed by a down-cutting surface stream which then, as now, flowed underground only briefly. What’s left today is amazing topography, surrounded by deep pools which are filled with crystal-clear green water.
The park has a number of other minor karst features that might be of interest to visitors with a discerning eye.
- There are ‘Grykes’, which are shallow cracks in the ground
- ‘Scallops’, which are rippled rock surfaces created by high pressure water flow
- And as well, there are many shadowy openings that urge you to click on your flashlight and peer inside (or explore further, if you are willing).
A rudimentary trail within Little Huson Caves Park that leads to one of the viewpoints
Things to Note
- Little Huson Caves Park was developed as a day use recreation area, as well as an interpretive area for local residents and tourists. This means that camping and picnicking are NOT permitted on site. Visitors wishing to camp can do so at the nearby Atluck Lake and Anutz Lake, or at any of the below mentioned locations.
- Visitors take a self-guided tour using interpretive signs erected at strategic sites.
- As no special equipment is necessary to view the area (unless you are there to explore underground), the site is good for the inexperienced caver.
- The trails developed throughout the park are rudimentary at best.
- There are a few signs warning visitors that the site has inherent dangers, but it is largely up to you to use common sense when exploring the area.
- The rocks are extremely slippery when wet, so use extra caution when climbing.
- A few of the pools are quite deep, so keep children close by at all times.
- There are pit toilets at the trail head.
- There is no cell coverage in the area.
Road to Little Huson Caves Regional Park
From the Island Highway (Hwy 19), take the Zeballos turn-off just north of Woss onto a gravel logging road.
Keep close watch and follow the signs directing you down a series of gravel roads (for approximately 9 kilometres) to Little Huson Caves Regional Park.
The route is a little convoluted, so take notice of where you are going and pay close attention to the signs. It is good to note that the very first sign says, “Huston Caves” (with a t), but it is the correct one!
The road surface deteriorates in spots, and also becomes quite narrow in certain areas. We were able to get down the road with our motorhome. However, there were a few spots where we wondered how we were going to ‘pull-over’ should we happen upon a vehicle coming in the opposite direction.
While the road doesn’t require 4 wheel drive, good tires (and lots of gas) are in order. It is definitely recommended that you drive slowly to avoid a flat tire.
Just remember, there is absolutely no cell coverage in the area, so extra precautions are necessary!
Steam Train in Woss
While You are in the Area
Woss is a small village situated in the heart of Nimpkish Valley, and approximately 20 minutes south of Little Huson Caves.
The economy in Woss revolves around logging. Which is why there are a few logging artifacts to view, including the historic retired steam engine. The old No. 113 was once part of Woss’ longest running logging railway service in North America. It now sits at the end of Englewood Drive for others to view and climb aboard. (Take the main road off the highway when you see the sign for Woss, and follow it until you cross the railway tracks. The engine will be on your left hand side).
Woss Lake is situated approximately 5 km south of the town of Woss. Popular things to do at Woss Lake include fishing, canoeing and kayaking. On the south side of the lake (only accessible by boat or walk-in access) you will find Woss Lake Provincial Park. This undeveloped wilderness area is ideal for remote hiking and camping.
Schoen Lake Provincial Park
Surrounded by towering mountains, a clear lake, and superb scenery, Schoen Lake Provincial Park is considered by some to be one of the most beautiful parks on Vancouver Island. At this lake you have access to vehicle-accessible wilderness camping, great fishing, and a really good chance of seeing wildlife (be bear and cougar aware!).
From Little Huson Caves, head back to the main logging road and continue north-west to Zeballos. The 40 km gravel road to Zeballos is relatively well-maintained, and should take you approximately 1.5 hours from the caves. Zeballos is famous for kayaking and salmon fishing opportunities, and allows the opportunity to experience the wild west coast of Vancouver Island in a little more rugged way (compared to say, Tofino or Ucluelet). Camping and comfortable accommodations are available in the village of Zeballos.
Have you been to any of these areas? Let us in on your experience in the comments below!
For more photos of Little Huson Caves, watch this short video:
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