A Favourite Camping Spot
Another surprising place to stumble upon.
Naka Creek forestry campground has become a personal favourite spot for me. I like the grand seaside location, and I like the remote location, along the NE coast roughly between Sayward and Port McNeill.
I was last at Naka Creek in April 2019, and heard from some other hardy campers that the Parks Department was planning to enlarge the campground. It is unclear whether they will put a host at the site, though that is likely needed. The site itself it looking a little long in the tooth and the Parks upgrade may be good news. I was also told that in summer, on weekends, the place has started to get very busy, with up to a hundred campers showing up and filling every corner of every field. This suggests that many folks may prefer to visit Naka Creek as a destination outside summer time.
Here's some real good reasons why you should check this place out:
a tough ride to reach Naka Creek makes getting there a reward in itself. The place has that 'end-of-the-road' oasis vibe, made a little special by how comfortable you'll be
spacious, grassy options for tents, with enough shelter trees in case of ornery weather, with tables and outhouses
and this is the kicker: you'll camp right along a fabulous stretch of Johnstone Strait. There's endless beach walking and views to kill for as ships, sea lions (and sometimes killer whales) pass you by.
I visited early in the season and was the only person there. The helpful owners of the adjacent home suggested I might want to camp near their gazebo, which is just down from the camping area (they can't do this once things get busier)
The campground is fairly small, with 7-8 formal sites (though it may soon get bigger). But there's good sized open fields surrounding the place - in other words, space for overflow, so I would expect (not sure) you wouldn't get turned away after a tough ride in.
I got water from a creek less than a half km back along the road in, beside a bridge. ~1 km before reaching the campground, you'll pass a log sort: you might faintly hear motors early in the morning.
There's a rough boat launch for fishermen, and the site is popular with kayakers, beach walkers and marine wildlife watchers.
If you like beach walking .....
Naka Creek can be accessed via several route options, and I recommend doing a loop - coming in via Eve River and heading back to the Highway via Naka Main to the north (or vice versa). The turn off onto Eve Main is ~25+kms north of Sayward Junction (with the north island Highway), itself ~65kms north of Campbell River. Then it's 20+ kms, mostly a slow descent (a couple of basic Rec camps along the way), to a log sort (rather ugly place) at the mouth of the Eve River (which flows into the larger Adam River there), where there's also a camping option (not so nice - there are better options). From Eve River, it's a tough 15 kms NW parallel to the coast to Naka Creek. If you come back to the Highway via Naka Main, it's a tougher, steeper, higher, more remote ride.
This ride into Naka Creek is also a segment of a major Favourite Backroads Ride, the Lower North Criss-Cross.
View down and over the Johnstone Strait from the tough connector NW from Eve River to Naka Creek
You can do this ride as a 2 day overnighter from Sayward, where I camped, but may want to stay at Naka Creek an extra day to chill out. There are a number of decent camping options in Sayward, including Elk Creek Rec Camp.
On occasion, I've driven up to Sayward, camped & left my car at Sayward Valley Resort (nice commercial place, and near the highway, though busy in season). Sayward itelf is worth a look about (see pics below). With rides south to Brewster Lake or Gold River as well, Sayward turns out to be a mini hub for some amazing riding.
The marina at Kelsey Bay, just a km past Sayward Village (which also has a nice little village campground). There's a fine little restaurant (big portions) just off the marina. The village is ~11 kms off the highway on a paved road to the seaside.
You can see the ride and Naka Creek Rec Campground in the map below. You also get a sense as to just how big the north Island is.
Routes to Naka Creek Rec Campground
A final view of the campground at Naka Creek. Basic stuff, but nice tenting terrain, and check out that view!