|There are two
large parks in Haida Gwaii, the former Queen Charlotte Islands; Naikoon
Provincial Park on Graham Island in the north, and Gwaii Haanas National
Park on Moresby Island in the south. Pure
Lake Provincial Park is the the third and only other provincial
park in Haida Gwaii, located between Masset and Port Clements.
The are four trails running through Naikoon
Provincial Park, and hiking time
ranges from a few hours to a few days. The longest and toughest trail
is the East Beach Trail. The trail runs 55 miles (90 km) from
the Tlell River Bridge to Rose Point, a three- to four-day hike along
mostly level terrain, with three shelters along the route. It's recommended
that you hike the trail south to north to avoid fighting prevailing
winds. Hikers should carry their own water, as there is no fresh water
along the route. Strong hikers can do the East Beach Trail from the
Tlell River Bridge to Cape Ball River and back (8.5 miles/14.5
km one way) in a day.
A second trail runs 3 miles (5 km) one way from the Tlell River Bridge
and leads to the Pesuta, an old log barge that was wrecked
here in 1928. Follow the trail along the bluff or along the river
at low tide. Allow for two to three hours each way.
Two trails start from the 109-metre high Tow Hill on the north
side of the park. The first leads to the summit of Tow Hill, an easy
0.6-mile (1-km) uphill climb. From the top of this unusual basalt
tower, the hiker is rewarded with expensive views of the ocean, Graham
Island, and even Alaska away in the distance. Be cautious when the
trail is wet. It is from Tow Hill that legend says the cruel Tow threw
boulders to slay the Haida warrior Hopi.
The second trail leads 6 miles (10 km) to Cape Fife on the
east coast. Starting at the Hiellen Bridge, the trail takes three
to four hours one way, following an old settler's path through forests
of spruce, hemlock and cedar. Carry water with you, as there is no
fresh water along the route. From Cape Fife it is possible to hook
up with the East Beach Trail, and hike a two-day, 13-mile (21-km)
loop back to Tow Hill.
Hike the 10-km trail along North
Beach to Rose Spit Ecological Reserve, but check the tides first!
Be prepared for a very long day if you want to make it to Rose Spit
and back in one glorious day. Rose Spit is a long finger of tidal
sand on the northeast tip of Graham Island that experiences frequent
strong onshore winds and wave action during winter storms, as evidenced
by the profusion of driftwood logs cast ashore.
Many of the Forest Service recreational sites on Graham Island, are
located along beaches, with long stretches of open sand before your
wandering feet. If level, sandy beaches aren't your cup of tea, try
the Sleeping Beauty Trail, which leads up to the top of Mount
Genevieve near Queen Charlotte
City. It's not a long trail, but it is steep. To reach the trailhead,
go north of the Forest Service office on 1229 Cemetery Road and follow
Honna Forest Road for 3 miles (5 km). The trailhead is well signed.
Allow 90 minutes to reach the summit of Mount Genevieve. For more
information and directions, check with the Queen Charlotte Visitor
Take a short hike to Yakoun Lake, about 15 miles (25 km) northwest
of Queen Charlotte City, a popular freshwater fishing destination
with a beautiful beach and a fabulous hike along Bellis Trail.
Follow the backroads over the hogback ridge to Rennell Sound, where
the rugged coastline, beautiful crescent beaches and excellent beachcombing,
great hiking, fishing and kayaking make the trip very worthwhile.
The beaches at Bonanza Creek and Gregory Creek are the
easiest to walk to, about 10 minutes each way, and a 3-km/1-hour trail
leads to Riley Creek beach.
Over on Moresby Island, The Gray Bay-Cumshewa Head Trail leads
25 km from the end of the Forest Service road near Sheldens Bay along
the shoreline to Cumshewa Head, one of the easternmost points on Moresby.
You might not encounter another soul on the hike to the ancient village
of Cumshewa and back, a two- to three-day trip one way. The trail,
which passes through second-growth forest and follows the beach at
places, can be very rough, requiring experienced hikers to be well-prepared.
Day hikes are also possible to Sandy Cove, about a 5-hour return
From the first campsite at Gray Bay, there is a well-marked trail
through old-growth forest to Secret Cove. The 1-km trail is
marked from easy to moderate.
From the Sandspit side of the Haans Creek Bridge the difficult three-hour
Louise Dover Memorial Trail winds through second-growth and
old-growth forest, including culturally modified trees - trees that
have been altered by native people as part of their traditional use
of the forest. Pink, chum and coho salmon can be seen in Haans Creek
during the fall spawn, and steelhead trout spawn in the creek during
There are no designated, maintained trails in Gwaii
Haanas National Park. All hiking in the park is of the bushwhacking
variety. It is easy to get lost, due to fog and density of forest,
so hikers should have excellent compass skills and use a map and compass
at all times.
The exquisite and natural beauty of the Haida Gwaii (Queen
Charlotte Islands) can be enjoyed by striking out on your own,
or through the services of hiking guides available at the local villages.