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Go Haida Gwaii


Rose Spit - where the Hecate Strait meets Dixon Entrance - Photo: Owen Perry

The rainforest experience - moss carpeted paths, a lingering scent of fresh cedar and the sounds of silence - Photo: Owen Perry

Step into another world as you tour ancient Haida village sites in Gwaii Haanas - Photo: Owen Perry


A walk on the wild west coast - Hiking in Rennell Sound

By Flavien Mabit

The West Coast.

It has a nice ring to it. It sounds like a remote and wild place. And on Haida Gwaii, the West Coast is definitely wild and awe-inspiring, and is a coastal area fully exposed to the force of the elements.

Photo Credit: Flavien Mabit - The Wild West Coast

For the time being, the only road access on island to the West Coast is at Rennel Sound. The road itself is a logging road where there can be active logging. It is a remote road, with steep sections (very steep in places and the final descent to the sound is over 20% gradient) of loose gravel, with some rocky surface, and absolutely no service. You will not have cell phone reception there and the closest grocery store is miles away. It can be accessed from either Port Clements or Queen Charlotte, on the back roads connecting the 2 communities.

Photo Credit: Flavien Mabit - Arriving at Rennel Sound

A four-wheel drive is highly recommended to visit the area. You should always enquire at the local visitor centres about logging activity when planning to venture on logging roads.

Photo Credit: Flavien Mabit - Surfer in front of Cone Head, Gregory Beach

Rennell Sound is an area that attracts visitors for the very reason that it is so remote and wild. There are a few campsites in the sound and some beautiful beaches, where surfers can sometimes be seen riding waves on days with good swells. There are a few trails and some gravel boat-launching ramps too. It is possible to put to the water there and explore and fish in the sound.

To find out more about recreational possibilities in the area, consult the excellent brochure “A guide to recreation sites and trails on Haida Gwaii”.

Photo Credit: Flavien Mabit - Bonanza Beach

The sound is somewhat protected from the massive pacific swells but it can get rough. It can be a very wet place too, as the West Coast can be drenched under more than 4 metres (!) of rain a year. In comparison, at just over a metre a year, Vancouver is pretty dry.

Photo Credit: Flavien Mabit - Bonanza Beach

I have been to Rennel Sound on a few occasions but have never seriously explored the area. I had heard of some sea caves that are apparently a little hard to find, but the pictures we were shown and the descriptions looked cool enough that I tried with a friend to find them. This was a fairly unplanned and informal trip to the “West Coast”: 2 days out, a campsite, off-season, no expectations…

Photo Credit: Flavien Mabit - View from our campsite

We took our time going in, not exactly ripping down on logging roads but taking in the scenery. The road goes up for quite a ways and the final descent is impressive. We explored Gregory Beach and Bonanza Beach, where some surfers seemed to be having fun in the rolling surf.

Photo Credit: Flavien Mabit - Surfers in the Sound

Our campsite was a little farther down the road, at a place called Cone Head.

Photo Credit: Flavien Mabit - Cone Head

There is a peninsula in the distance that looks like a pyramid, hence the name.  

Photo Credit: Flavien Mabit - Hiking in the forests

The next day, we headed out to the farthest place our vehicle could take us, passing Bonanza Beach and then taking a spur somewhat following the coast, but up on the flank of the mountains. I believe it is called the Bill Brown Spur but don’t think there are any signs indicating it. We found the entrance to a “trail”, which we had had described to us, and mainly bushwhacked our way through a forest down to the ocean.

Photo Credit: Flavien Mabit - Deer on the beach

There are some beautiful remote beaches in this part of the sound, and beautiful coves.

Photo Credit: Flavien Mabit - The surge

We hiked for a while, taking our time scrambling on rocks, and observing the surge and the swells.

Photo Credit: Flavien Mabit - Coves and beaches

We never made it to those caves… We turned round as this was starting to be a little late in the day.

Photo Credit: Flavien Mabit

This is probably a trail worth exploring in the summer months, when the days are longer.

The goal was to explore the area, and in that regard, it was a successful outing. It is always good to leave some things still to see and discover.

Photo Credit: Flavien Mabit

Next time!


Contact Us

Queen Charlotte Visitor Centre

email: | telephone: 250-559-8316

Sandspit Visitor Centre

email: | telephone: 250.637.5362

Port Clements Visitor Centre

email: | telephone: 250-557-4576

Masset Visitor Centre

email: | telephone: 250-626-3982

Haida Gwaii Tourism

Destination Marketing Organization

Super Natural British Columbia