By Flavien Mabit
It is always great to do some real exploring. Once you start going off trails, things get more interesting.
Gray Bay in the morning light - Flavien Mabit
Dogfish Bay is a small bay that sort of looks into the larger and more famous Copper Bay, on Moresby Island. There are no roads to it, but some people are still able to get there on quads. There is 2 ways to get the bay, from 2 different entry points, and this is what makes the hike interesting: you can make a loop out of it!
The little bridge at the start of the Secret Cove hike - the trail turns right about 100m after the bridge - Flavien Mabit
This hike is not really listed anywhere, and it is a somewhat harder hike, that requires some navigational skills, a bit of common sense, scrambling on rocks, watching for the tides, and having at least a half day to "waste".
Secret Cove - Flavien Mabit
Though Dogfish Bay is not really the destination of the hike in itself, it is the name given to that particular hike, that essentially starts either from Sheldens bay, or from the Secret Cove trailhead.
I prefer to start from Secret Cove, and park at the trailhead, as the Sheldens Bay area is now so overgrown that driving there is a little hard on the vehicles. It is also possible to start right from Gray Bay.
Secret Cove - Flavien Mabit
I took my parents on this hike this past September, and they loved the hike so much that it gave me the idea to write about it, and maybe even work on making it a more known hike, for locals and visitors.
We started the hike to Secret Cove, right next to Gray Bay. So far, nothing really hard or tricky about it, this is a short hike, listed on the excellent Guide to recreation sites and trails of Haida Gwaii.
Overlooking the water - Flavien Mabit
The short hike takes you through some blowdown, where giant trees have been brought to the ground, and on to a small cove, that is not really a secret anymore. From the cove, if you look on your left, there are some cliffs. The more adventurous can actually climb those cliffs and will end up on a rough trail through the forest. The less adventurous will simply go into the forest and find the trail, marked with pink tape, that actually avoids massive scrambling on slippery rocks. It is up to you!
Hiking through the boulder field - Flavien Mabit
The trail follows the coastline and as long as you can stay on that trail, it will be relatively easy going, through salal patches, between rocks, overlooking the water... At one point though, you will have no choice but to get down onto the "beach". It isn't much of a beach though, more like a boulder field. This is where a lower tide is better, as it gives you more options to find a suitable route. It is also probably best to not choose a day with strong south east winds, as this would be a very exposed area, with possible crashing waves all over.
The harder part of the walk - Flavien Mabit
There are some really cool tidal pools to look at, beautiful rocks, and sweeping views of the Hecate Strait. The boulder field here is probably as tough as the hike will get, so if you get past it, the rest is a stroll. A few years ago, with some friends we had found parts of the skeleton of a whale amongst the rocks. Ribs were sometimes jammed firmly under big rocks, backbones scattered around and what was really impressive was to see the long bottom section of the backbone, with vertebreas still attached, just lying down on some rocks. It looked totally alien in that landscape, with the yellowish-white bones contrasting over the black rocks. There are now no remains of the carcass.
Sandy beaches ahead - Flavien Mabit
Once you are past the boulders, you are out of trouble, and the sandy beach will make you want to pause to take a picture of what looks like a remote tropical lagoon. The grassy meadows backing the beach there makes you think it would be a great place to build a cabin. It was actually the site of an ancient Haida fishing village. There are no remains of a settlement, but one can definitely see that it would have been a good place to spend the summer.
Sand Dollar - Flavien Mabit
The beaches in those areas are littered with shells, seaweed, crab remains, driftwood and some plastic debris. It is a great place to beachcomb.
Copper Bay in the distance - Flavien Mabit
Once you past the point, the beaches face north, and you will soon get to Dogfish Bay. At a low tide, one can see that the bay is almost cut off from the open ocean, which would have made the bay a great place to fish, as fish would get trapped in the bay and the shallow waters would make them easy targets. There is what looks like a man-made mound 0on the west end of the bay, visible at low tide, that one could imagine being a structure for a fisherman, maybe using a spears, to stand on and catch fish as they would pass by. This is just a personnal theory.
Getting rockier - Flavien Mabit
Beaches follow one another and at one point, when progress gets too hard as you come across some very beautiful rock formations, you may want to veer straight into the woods, where you will soon find an old logging road, still passable by quads, that you can follow all the way to Sheldens Bay. Sheldens bay is also on the Guide to recreation sites and trails of Haida Gwaii. This is also the alternative starting point for that same hike, and going the other way round.
Old Logging roads - Flavien Mabit
Hikers then have to follow the main road out towards Gray Bay road. It is of course possible to walk all the way back to Gray Bay on the main road, but there is an alternative to that. This is a harder part of the hike to describe. Once you leave Sheldens Bay and hike up the road, you will at one point, after maybe 1.5km, have reached the saddle, or higher part of the road. There will be views of some clear cuts. The road then flattens, and eventually goes down towards a valley where the main Gray Bay road is. Just as you start going down sharply, there is deactivated logging road on your left, that hikers can take. It is closed off by boulders, so vehicles cannot go through.
Hiking up from Sheldens Bay - Flavien Mabit
If you take that old logging road, you will end up at your starting point at the Secret Cove trailhead. The loging road itself is very pretty, with the typical "cathedral" effect of tall alders lining up the sides of the road. There is a seriously washed out part of the road, that is easily passable with caution, but which makes the road impassable for any vehicle, even Atvs.
More logging roads - Flavien Mabit
This hike is especially interesting as it takes you through very varied landscapes, from beaches to forests; from exposed coastal rocks to moss covered stumps.
Back to the Secret Cove Parking lot - Flavien Mabit
You are unlikely to see anyone in those areas and this can be a great way to get away from it all and "reconnect". It is a harder route, where there are sometimes no marked trails to follow. Very sturdy footwear is essential. And as always, pack water, snacks and warm clothes...