Monday, 30 April 2012

The East Beach Trail – Remote Wilderness Hiking on Haida Gwaii

Photo Credit (Forest along Each Beach Trail): Karen Noeh

About 25 years ago I was inspired to hike Vancouver Island’s West Coast Trail (ok, it’s a given that I was much younger and in far better physical condition)! I felt blessed to experience nature in such a rich and remote setting and thoroughly enjoyed the challenge of the 75km (47 mile) hike.

Apparently, that trail is now more 'populated' (8,000 hikers per year/appx 50 per day) and reservations must be made to hike it. The cost for a hiking permit is appx $140 with a reservation fee of $25.

For those seeking a lesser known wilderness trail of similar scope (no reservations or fees), you might consider Haida Gwaii’s East Beach Trail.

  Photo Credit: Caroline Cournoyer-Galt
Haida Gwaii’s East Beach Trail

The East Beach Trail is a 90 km (55 mi) ‘demanding’ hike along ‘East Beach’. The route is located in Naikoon Provincial Park (a wilderness area) and is rated as being ‘moderate to difficult’.

Photo Credit: Ron Caves

Shorter hikes such as the Cape Fife Trail (10km one way - see our Jan 16, 2012 Blog and the Pesuta Shipwreck (5km one way) hike connect with the East Beach Trail and are more popular as single day hiking destinations.

Photo Credit: Karen Noeh

 Photo Credit:
The East Beach Trail hike is for the most part, a beach walk with no firmly defined trail, however, the route is easy to follow and takes about 3-5 days to complete the trail.

Photo Credit: Wild Isle Adventures

Note: For those looking forward to 'getting away from it all', it is rare to see other people on this hike except at the trail heads.

Photo Credit: Caroline Cournoyer-Galt
Please also see the BC Parks information on hiking in the Naikoon Park

Photo Credit: Melinda Pick

The first segment of the East Beach hike from Tlell takes hikers to the shipwreck of the Pesuta, a log-barge that ran aground in 1928.

Photo Credit: Karen Noeh
Gold in The Sand!

On some parts of East Beach, patches of black sand stand out from the rest of the yellow-gray beach. These black sands are thought to contain trace amounts of gold. Local history has it that approximately 4 gold recovery operations extracted small quantities of gold from the beach at Cape in the mid-1930s.

Photo Credit: Ryan Conroy

Feral Cattle!

There have been reports over the years of ‘wild cattle’ sightings along this trail. The cattle are reportedly the descendents of free-range cattle which had been left behind by the settlers and have been described as small & shaggy and locally referred to as “hippy cows”. The sightings have become less common in recent years.

Photo Credit: Karen Noeh


There are three rustic shelters along the East Beach route and are located near the mouths of Cape Ball and Oceanda Rivers approximately 2 km south of their respective river mouths, above the high tide line.

Photo Credit: Ron Caves

The Fife Point cabin has a wood stove and is located on the east beach side of the Cape Fife

 Photo Credit: Ron Caves

All three shelter locations are marked with an orange sign posted on a tree above the beach zone. Please keep a watchful eye for the signs as you approach the Cape Ball and Oeanda Rivers and Fife Point, as they are not directly obvious from the beach zone.

Photo Credit:

Photo Credit:
At the north end of the trail, you can cut through the woods on the Cape Fife trail or continue all the way around Rose Spit (an ecological reserve).

 Photo Credit:

A vehicle waiting at North Beach will be a welcome site and will transport your tired body to one of the lovely B&Bs, Cabins or hotels/motels awaiting you on Tow Hill Road or Masset...a hot bath and a meal to celebrate – memories for a lifetime…


Tlell to Tow Hill via the Cape Fife Trail - 78 km

Tlell to Tow Hill via the base of Rose Spit - 89 km

Tlell Bridge to Tlell River outfall - 4.5 km

Tlell River outfall to Mayer River outfall - 4.5 km

Mayer River outfall to Cap Ball River - 6 km

Cape Ball River to Oeanda River 36.5 km

Oeanda River to Cape Fife trailhead - 17 km

This is a long and demanding wilderness hike along the length of East Beach requiring sufficient preparation and supplies. Please see the BC Parks web-site for planning information or contact BC Parks staff at (250) 557-4390

Monday, 23 April 2012

Camping on Haida Gwaii!

 Photo Credit: Larry Duke 'Kagan Bay Campsite'

Camping on Haida Gwaii is a great way to experience nature at its very best!

Photo Credit: Anvil Cove Charters
Wander amongst the old growth cedars, stroll the sandy beaches... feel the cool ocean spray on your cheeks... run your hands through the sea foam and hear the surf pounding on the beach… this is what memories are made of!

Photo Credit: Brian Eccles
Photo Credit: Ian Gould

Haida Gwaii offers many camping experiences ranging from rugged wilderness camping to Provincial campgrounds or private campgrounds with full hook-ups, a restaurant and a hot shower at the end of the day! You can even rent camping equipment while you are here…but call ahead – camping is a popular activity!

 Photo Credit: Tourism BC

Photo Credit: Heron Weir

Please refer to our Visitor Map  to assist you in locating the various communities on Haida Gwaii. You may also wish to check out community profiles on our GoHaidaGwaii website.

Let’s take a look at some of the campgrounds in close proximity to each of the islands’ communities:

 Photo Credit: North Pacific Seaplanes

Sandspit: (see the Sandspit Community Map)
*Sani-Station and water are available at 501 RV Camping in Sandspit

 Photo Credit:

Photo Credit:

501 RV/Tent Park 501 Beach Rd 250-637-5473
(Private Campground)
  • Showers, Laundry, Power/Water/Sani-Station, Boat Launch
  • 16 RV and Tenting Sites
  • Ocean Access/Beachcombing

Ministry of Forests/BC Parks Recreational Campsites on Moresby Island:
  • Please be advised that all public camping sites on Moresby Island are accessible only by logging roads. Please check at the Sandspit Visitor Info Centre located at the Sandspit Airport for up to date road and hauling conditions
Photo Credit: 21Mickrange

Gray Bay
(BC Parks Recreation Site)
Located 25km SE of Sandspit
  • 20 sites on beach, group camping site, picnic tables, pit toilets, fire pits, day use shelters, no water
  • Access by logging road / 4-wheel drive recommended 
Photo Credit: Caroline Cournoyer-Galt
Photo Credit:

Moresby Camp
(BC Forest Recreation Site)
Closest road access to Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve
  • 6 sites, picnic tables, pit toilets, fire pits, no water
  • Suitable for single or large groups
  • Access by logging road / 4-wheel drive recommended

Queen Charlotte: (see the Queen Charlotte Community Map)
*Sani-Station located on Oceanview Drive adjacent to NAPA Auto Parts

Photo Credit: Jenn Dolen

Joy’s Campground
(Private Campground) 3922 Oceanview Drive, Queen Charlotte 250-559-4666
  • 2 large RV sites, 3 small camper sites and 6 tenting sites
  • 2 Electrical hook-ups/ No washroom facilities /Close proximity to Public Porta-Potties

The Bunkhouse Campground Resort
(Private Campground)
921 3rd Avenue, Queen Charlotte (206) 259-6013

  • 12 sites on 3 tenting greens
  • 4- 20' x 50' RV sites with water, sewer and 30 amp electrical hookups available
  • 4- car/mini van sites with water and 15 amp electrical hookups available
  • Washroom, shower   

    Haydn Turner Community Campsite
    (Community Campground)
    Follow Oceanview Drive to western end of the village
    • 6 sheltered sites, 3 walk in tent sites on beach,
    • Water, picnic tables, fire pits, dry toilets

     Photo Credit: Larry Duke

    Kagan Bay Campground
    (BC Forest Recreation Site)
    Located 4km west of Queen Charlotte City
    •  6 sites located on the Kagan Bay, picnic tables, pit toilets, fire pits, no water 

    Tlell: (see the Tlell Community Map)

     Photo Credit: Jason Shafto

    Photo Credit: Natural Impressions Photography
    Misty Meadows Campground
    (BC Parks Campground)
    (250) 557-4390 for more information

    Located on Hwy 16 in the community of Tlell
    Near Pesuta Shipwreck Trail & East Coast Trail

    • 30 sheltered sites(10 tent sites), water, picnic tables, fire pits, dry toilets, day use, cooking shelter
    • Ocean access/Beachcombing
    Photo Credit: SATaylor

    Photo Credit: Natural Impressions Photography

     Photo Credit: Ryan Conroy

    Port Clements: (see the Port Clements Community Map)
    *Sani-Station located on Bayview Drive (see the Port Clements Community Map)

    Photo Credit: Ian Gould

     Photo Credit: Kerri Haybittle

    Photo Credit: Ian Gould

    Sunset RV Park & Campground
    (Community Campground) Phone: 250-557-4295

    Located on the east shore of Masset Inlet in Port Clements
    Near Golden Spruce Trail, Haida Canoe
    • 6 RV sites, 4 tent sites, 
    • Hydro, water, picnic tables, dry toilets, cooking shelter, day use picnic shelters

    Masset/Tow Hill: (see the Masset and Tow Hill Community Maps)
    *Sani-Station located at Visitor Info Booth on Highway 16

      Photo Credit: Ian Gould

    Photo Credit: Caroline Cournoyer-Galt

    Hidden Island RV Park 1790 Tow Hill Rd 250-626-5286
    (Private Campground)
    • 16 large private treed lots with/without hookups
    • Large private tent sites available
    • Full hookups (include: highspeed internet, cable TV, telephone, electricity, water and sewer)
    • Restaurant, Heated washrooms, Laundry, Showers, Fishing Charters & Licenses

    Old Beach Road RV Park 1470 Old Beach Rd 250-626-5083
    (Private Campground)
    • 16 sites - water, sewer and electrical

      Photo Credit: Ron Caves

     Photo Credit: Ron Caves

    Agate Beach Campground
    (BC Parks Campground)
    (250) 557-4390 for more information

    Located 23 km east of Masset on Tow Hill Road
    Near Cape Fife Trail, Tow Hill & North Beach
    • 32 ocean front sites(10 tent sites), water, picnic tables, fire pits, dry toilets, day use, cooking shelter
    • Ocean access/Beachcombing 

    Photo Credit: Natural Impressions Photography

     Photo Credit: Ian Gould

    For more information on many of these campgrounds please check out , and  as well as the Queen Charlotte Visitor Centre

      Photo Credit: Anvil Cove Charters

    Haida Gwaii Tourism has provided a list of campsites on Haida Gwaii. We encourage you as a visitor to research the various facilities prior to your visit as we cannot guarantee the quality of your experience.

      Photo Credit: Anvil Cove Charters

      Photo Credit: Anvil Cove Charters

      Photo Credit: Anvil Cove Charters