Distance: 20 km
Elevation gain: MinimalView mapDownload GPS track
The Cape Fife hiking trail connects the north beach of Graham Island to the east beach. Unless you hike for several days from the south or take a very long day trip around Rose Spit
, it is the only access to the east beach. It is one of the few trails in Haida Gwaii that has an official trailhead sign, likely as a consequence of being in Naikoon Provincial Park, and as such is relatively popular. It also serves as an early exit point for those backpacking along the east beach, or as part of a potential backpacking loop along the north beach and around Rose Spit
. A cabin at Cape Fife provides a nice place for you to stay should you wish to overnight, but it can't be reserved so you might have company.
The trailhead is located across the Hiellen River bridge from the Tow Hill parking area. See the Tow Hill
trip for directions to this area. For the most part the trail is obvious and the only intersection is near the beginning and is signed. Some parts of the trail, including the initial part, follow an old wagon road and thus are in reasonably good shape. However, the majority of the trail is a muddy quagmire that is more difficult to walk along than you might expect. (The trail is maintained, but there isn't much you can do about the mud in a rainforest). It took us nearly 3.5 hours to cover the 10 km to the east beach, and we met another couple who commented it seemed far longer than 10 km. Be very careful on anything wooden (roots/boardwalks) as it will be remarkably slippery.
The trail passes through rainforest of varying ages and variety. While at least some of it has been logged in the past, it has had sufficient time to regrow that it is once again beautiful. The end (or midpoint, I suppose) of the hike is the east beach of Graham Island - apparently the longest beach in Canada - and it is spectacular. Sand dunes, huge driftwood logs, and the sandy/rocky beach stretches as far as you can see in either direction.
Retrace your route to return to your car, or, if you're in incredible shape and the tide is receding, continue northward to Rose Spit, then head west along the north beach. Total distance for that option is 35 km or more, so before setting out be sure you're capable!