The northern half of Vancouver Island is rich with natural caves and limestone features. There are over 1000 known caves, with speculation of just as many waiting to be discovered. Little Huson Caves offers us a small yet spectacular taste of the karst topography found on the island.
The great thing about Little Huson Caves is that it offers caving opportunities without going 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, an area of breathtaking natural beauty. There are several fantastic karst features to view and explore.
Highlights of Little Huson Caves
The Vanishing River Cave has a large cathedral entrance that welcomes exploration. Inside, the creek flows underground for 60 meters. It’s thought that the Atluck Creek Canyon was formed by a stream which then, as now, flowed underground only briefly. What’s left today is unique topography, surrounded by deep pools and filled with crystal-clear green water.
The park has several other minor karst features that might interest visitors with a discerning eye. Keep on the lookout for:
- ‘Grykes’, which are shallow cracks in the ground
- ‘Scallops’ – rippled rock surfaces created by high pressure water flow
- And, of course, the many shadowy openings that urge you to click on your flashlight and peer inside (or explore further, if you are willing).
Things to Note
Little Huson Caves Park was developed as a day-use recreation area and an interpretive area for residents and tourists. So camping and picnicking are NOT permitted on site. Visitors wishing to camp can do so at the nearby Atluck Lake and Anutz Lake.
While you are in the area, please take note:
- Visitors take a self-guided tour using interpretive signs erected at strategic sites.
- This area is great for the inexperienced caver, as no special equipment is necessary to view the area. That is, unless you are there to explore underground.
- The trails developed throughout the park are quite undeveloped, so use caution.
- 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 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.
From the Island Highway (Hwy 19), take the Zeballos turn-off 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 notice 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 would pull over should we happen upon a vehicle coming in the opposite direction.
While the road doesn’t require four-wheel drive, good tires (and lots of gas) are in order. It is recommended that you drive slowly to avoid a flat tire.
Just remember, there is no cell coverage in the area, so extra precautions are necessary!
While You are in the Area
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. You have access to vehicle-accessible wilderness camping at this lake, great fishing, and an excellent 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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